Different forms of clutch hitting have determined the winner in each game between the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals.
With Mike Leake and Lance Lynn pitching, that will likely be the case again Sunday when the NL Central rivals conclude their series.
St. Louis (64-45) was the first to find its hitting stroke as the two squads chase Pittsburgh in the Central, going 5 for 8 with runners in scoring position Friday in a 13-3 romp. Despite going 1 for 11 in such situations Saturday, the Reds scored their first five runs with two out en route to an 8-3 win, breaking out of an offensive funk in which they scored 12 runs their previous seven games.
Jack Hannahan’s two-run single in the first erased an early deficit before Devin Mesoraco added the first of his two home runs - a two-run shot in the fourth - to back Tony Cingrani’s solid effort.
“The hit of the game was the two-out hit by Jack Hannahan,” manager Dusty Baker said. “It was nice to see some of the guys swinging that way tonight. It looked pretty good tonight.”
Lance Lynn (12-5, 3.87 ERA) will try to keep the Reds in check as he attempts to become the Cardinals’ second 13-game winner alongside Adam Wainwright. The right-hander pitched well enough to end his three-game road losing streak on Tuesday at Pittsburgh, limiting the Pirates to one run and three hits in six innings of a 2-1, 11-inning defeat in the first game of a doubleheader.
“He was right on,” manager Mike Matheny told the team’s official website. “If we can keep him doing that the rest of the season, he’s going to win a lot of games.”
Both of Lynn’s lifetime wins over Cincinnati have come this year, and he has a 2.84 ERA in three outings against the Reds in 2013. He surrendered four runs and five hits in six innings before St. Louis posted an 11-4, 10-inning road victory on June 9.
Jay Bruce, who is 0 for 7 with three strikeouts in this series, is 4 for 9 with a double and a triple lifetime versus Lynn.
Mike Leake (10-4, 2.59) will try again for his fourth consecutive winning decision while giving Cincinnati (61-50) its first series victory over St. Louis in four tries this year. The right-hander was in line for his 11th victory Monday after scattering four hits and two walks in seven shutout innings at San Diego, but closer Aroldis Chapman served up a two-run walkoff homer.
It was the best outing during a four-start stretch in which Leake is 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA. He was on the losing end of a 9-2 decision versus St. Louis on June 7, yielding three runs and six hits over five innings.
Leake, whose five starts and six lifetime appearances versus the Cardinals have all come at home, is 2-3 with a 4.76 ERA against them.
Matt Holliday is 7 for 17 with two doubles versus Leake, while David Freese is 5 for 10 with a homer. Carlos Beltran, though, is 2 for 18 with a solo homer.
Matheny likely will re-insert All-Star second baseman Matt Carpenter into the starting lineup after bringing him off the bench Saturday. Carpenter is mired in a 1-for-31 slump that has plummeted his average 22 points to .303.