The Cincinnati Reds’ last game took much longer than expected. The wait was well worth it for the surging ballclub.
The Reds look to extend their longest winning streak of the year to six and record their first series win at Busch Stadium in four seasons on Saturday against the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals.
“I thought that game was going to continue,” manager Dusty Baker told the Reds’ official website.
A diving stop and putout by former St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen(notes) on the game’s final play capped the Reds’ fifth straight victory, 3-2. It also snapped the Cardinals’ season-high five-game winning streak and dropped them into a tie with San Diego for the NL’s best record.
With a chance at their first 6-0 stretch since Sept. 20-26 and first series win at Busch since a three-game sweep from June 5-7, 2006, the Reds will give the ball to Homer Bailey(notes) (0-1, 7.06 ERA). The right-hander did not receive a decision in his last outing, Sunday’s 5-4 victory over San Diego.
He tied a career high with eight strikeouts and walked just one.
“He was throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes,” Baker said. “… If he can do that consistently, he’s going to win a lot of games.”
Bailey was 0-3 with a 9.82 ERA in four career starts against the Cardinals before throwing seven innings of one-run ball in a 7-2 victory over St. Louis on Sept. 29.
Trying to avoid their first series loss at home this year, the Cardinals (15-8) counter with Kyle Lohse(notes) (0-1, 6.55). Although the veteran right-hander has by far the worst ERA among St. Louis’ starters, and opponents are hitting .306 against him, Lohse was satisfied with his effort in Monday’s 4-3 victory over Atlanta.
He not get a decision, but he retired the last seven batters he faced after giving up three runs and seven hits.
“I was proud to be able to hang in there and keep the team in it,” said Lohse, who went 9-17 with a 4.55 ERA for the Reds in 2006 and 2007.
He is 2-3 with a 4.96 ERA in six starts against Cincinnati.
Bruce, who is 2 for 9 with a homer lifetime versus Lohse, is batting .526 with a home run and four RBIs during the Reds’ winning streak after getting three hits and two RBIs Friday.
Albert Pujols(notes) had two hits and Matt Holliday(notes) added a two-run single, but that wasn’t enough to overcome nine men left on base. Rookie David Freese(notes) grounded into an inning-ending double-play in the eighth with the bases loaded.
“We can’t ask for more than we did,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told the teams’ official website. “All three innings, we created something. I thought we really toughed it out. We just couldn’t make it happen.”
Pujols is batting .439 with five home runs and 12 RBIs during a 12-game hitting streak at home against Reds. The two-time reigning NL MVP is 3 for 8 with a homer in his career against Bailey.
The Cardinals have won 16 of 23 at home against Cincinnati since the beginning of the 2007 season, but the teams have split the last eight in St. Louis.