Todd Frazier hit two home runs, and Shin-Soo Choo and Jay Bruce each hit solo homers, lifting the Reds to a 6-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in the finale of a four-game series between National League Central contenders at Great American Ball Park. Frazier finished 3-for-4, Bruce went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and Choo went 2-for-3 with two walks for Cincinnati, which took three of four in the series. "I'm just trying to get my swing again," Frazier said. "I've been struggling against the Cardinals. We needed a win. That's the biggest thing." The Reds (79-62) moved within three games of the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central. St. Louis (80-60) trails the Pirates, who were idle Thursday, by 1 1/2 games. Reds starter Tony Cingrani (7-3) allowed two runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked three. Making his first start since being on the disabled list with a lower back strain, Cingrani set the tone for the game in the second inning with some aggressive baserunning. With two outs, Cingrani reached on a bunt single, recorded his first career stolen base and later scored from third on Brandon Phillips' infield hit, putting the Reds ahead 1-0. "They didn't pay too much attention to me down there (at first base)," Cingrani said. "It played into what I want to do. I tried to get a little into Lance Lynn's head. I guess it worked. He gave up three home runs." St. Louis lost for the fourth time in five games against Cincinnati, a team it had beaten in seven straight series before this week. David Freese hit his seventh home run for the Cardinals.
Cardinals starter Lynn (13-10) lost his fifth straight decision, allowing four runs, including three solo homers, in five innings. Lynn, who threw 102 pitches, lost for the first time in five career starts against Cincinnati. "It was kind of baffling," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "You would see him make really good pitches and work ahead in the count and get quick outs, and the next thing you know, they're hitting the ball hard." Lynn's pitch count got elevated due to a 27-pitch first inning in which he walked three. In the third, Frazier launched Lynn's first pitch into the left field stands, giving Cincinnati a 2-0 lead. Choo added a 417-foot home run to center in the fourth, making the score 3-0. "If you look at the game overall, I made three bad pitches that they hit for three home runs. That usually doesn't happen," Lynn said. "You take away those three pitches and it's a totally different ballgame." Freese hit a solo homer leading off the fifth, but Bruce answered with a solo shot in the bottom half of the inning, giving the Reds a 4-1 advantage. In the sixth, Matt Carpenter tripled and scored on a wild pitch to trim the Cardinals' deficit to 4-2. Bruce had a two-out RBI hit in the sixth. Frazier hit his second home run off Seth Maness in the seventh inning, his 15th this season. It was his third career multi-homer game, his second this season. Cingrani, meanwhile, struck out five of six batters in one stretch, giving him 119 strikeouts in 103 innings this season. "We didn't know how far he was going to go," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Cingrani. "He'll do anything to beat you." Despite a four-run lead in the ninth, Baker summoned closer Aroldis Chapman in a non-save situation. Chapman issued a walk and gave up a hit but closed out the victory. "You've got to ice it down," Baker said. "I knew a threat was coming. This was a big series." NOTES: Cardinals 1B Allen Craig underwent X-rays and an MRI exam Thursday, and they revealed no fracture in his left foot. "Looks like a sprained foot, much more optimistic than what we were thinking last night," Matheny said. "The doctors are still kind of reviewing and looking at what we've got going on. But it's a big positive for us." Craig left Wednesday's game in the fourth inning after injuring his foot rounding first base. There is no timetable for his return. ... Cardinals C Tony Cruz started in place of Yadier Molina, who caught all 16 innings Wednesday. Molina struck out as a pinch hitter Thursday. ... Reds SS Zack Cozart extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the third. ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cardinals 1B Matt Adams is the first player in major league history to hit two homers in the 14th inning or later of the same game, a feat he accomplished Wednesday.
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