Paul's broken-bat hit helps Reds win

Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- The barrel of Xavier Paul's broken bat sailed into the seats behind the St. Louis dugout in the fourth inning Monday night, normally an embarrassing development for a hitter.
"But I can rest easy knowing that at-bat was the deciding run," he said.
Paul's shattered-bat groundout to shortstop scored Jay Bruce with what turned out to be the winning run as Mat Latos outdueled Adam Wainwright in Cincinnati's 2-1 win at Busch Stadium.
Latos (2-0) tightroped his way through six more scoreless innings, working around five hits, three walks and a hit batter to win his second straight start and lower his earned run average to 1.83. In the process, he stretched his streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 17.
There was nothing easy about it for Latos, who saw the leadoff man reach base in three innings but made tough pitches when required. The Cardinals (14-12), who entered the night leading the majors with a .335 batting average with men in scoring position, went just 1-of-7 in that situation against the right-hander.
"He was effectively wild," St. Louis second baseman Matt Carpenter said of Latos. "I thought we had competitive at-bats, but it didn't work out for us."
Latos threw just 91 pitches, but injured his right hip in his last inning. Manager Dusty Baker pinch-hit for him in the seventh, and the Reds bullpen picked up the last nine outs, with Aroldis Chapman working a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixth save.
"I'm glad we have him," Baker said of Latos. "He hasn't scratched the surface of what he can do. The first runner kept getting on, but he battled."
Wainwright (4-2) worked seven strong innings, yielding five hits and striking out six to tie Steve Carlton for seventh place among Cardinal pitchers with 951 career whiffs. Wainwright retired the last 10 men he faced after intentionally walking Devin Mesoraco in the fourth.
That came one batter after Paul hit with Bruce at third and Todd Frazier at second following Frazier's one-out double to the right-field corner. After falling behind 0-2, Paul took a ball and then fouled off three straight pitches before making just enough contact against Wainwright's cutter.
"Every at-bat counts, especially in an RBI situation," Paul said. "Wainwright is tough because he has that cutter, two different speeds on his breaking ball and a good four-seam fastball. Like all good pitchers, he found a way to get out of trouble."
Figuring runs would be hard to score in a high-level pitching matchup, Cincinnati (15-12) played for one run in the top of the first after Shin-Soo Choo's leadoff double. Zack Cozart got a bunt down on a high and inside fastball to move Choo to third, and Joey Votto cashed him in by lining a single over a drawn-in infield.
After Paul's RBI out, the Reds managed just one baserunner over the last five innings, but hung on as Jonathan Broxton escaped serious trouble in the eighth.
Allen Craig and Yadier Molina started the inning with back-to-back doubles for St. Louis' only run. But Broxton induced a comebacker out of David Freese -- Molina was caught in a rundown and tagged out as Freese made it to second -- for the first out.
Pinch-hitter Carlos Beltran, who didn't start because of illness, flew out to left, and Pete Kozma rolled out to first, stranding the team's 10th runner of the night.
"Someday, we're going to hit," Molina said. "We can't put our head down. Tomorrow, we might score 10 runs."
Since routing Pittsburgh 9-1 Friday night, the Cardinals have lost three straight, scoring just four runs in the process. They've fallen into a second-place tie with Cincinnati in the National League Central, a half-game behind the Pirates.
Meanwhile, the Reds enjoyed their second straight road win after eight consecutive losses away from the Great American Ballpark. They are 2-3 on a 10-game, 11-day trip that ends this weekend against the Cubs.
"This was a real good game," Baker said. "Both pitchers were dealing. I hoped we would score more, especially in the first inning, but we executed really well on defense."
Notes: St. Louis made a move designed to shore up its struggling bullpen Monday, calling up right-handed pitcher Seth Maness from Memphis of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League and sending down left-hander Marc Rzepczynski. Maness went 2-2 with a 4.32 earned run average in four starts at Memphis, while Rzepczynski was 0-0 with a 7.88 ERA in seven appearances for the Cardinals ... Cincinnati put outfielder Chris Heisey (strained right hamstring) on the disabled list Monday and called up outfielder Donald Lutz from Pensacola of the Class AA Southern League. Lutz, who was hitting .211 with five homers and 14 RBIs, pinch-hit in the seventh and grounded out ... Wainwright issued two walks, giving him three for the season in 44 1/3 innings.