Reds starter Tony Cingrani returning to the mound on after missing two starts with a strained lower back, manager Dusty Baker questioned how much he would get from him.The answer, thanks to the offense for putting up runs, as Cingrani lasted 5 1/3 innings and gave up just two runs picking up his seventh win of the season (7-2) as the Reds defeat the Cardinals 6-2 on Thursday night at Great American Ball Park.
Cingrani showed no pain effects in coming back from the injury, proving able to continue to fill in for Johnny Cueto, who likely will be headed to the bullpen when he returns from his own injury.
Cingrani’s effort helped the Reds, who took two of the first three games from the Cardinals, win their first series over St. Louis this season. The win pushed Cincinnati to within 1 1/2 games of second place Cardinals and 3 games back of first place Pittsburgh who were off tonight.
Cingrani put any doubts regarding his health early. After working around a two-out single in the first, he struck out the side in the second. In the bottom of the inning, he hustled down the line for a bunt single before recording the first stolen base of his career and scoring the first run of the game.
It wasn’t until the fifth that Cingrani surrendered a run, a solo home run off by David Freese. After retiring three straight to end the inning, he struck out a pinch-hitter to open the sixth, but Matt Carpenter followed with a triple. Carpenter then scored on a wild pitch, and after a single and a walk, Cingrani’s night was done. He allowed four hits and three walks on the night with seven strikeouts.
Zach Duke replaced Cingrani and needed just two pitches to force an inning-ending double play by Carlos Beltran. Second time in the two nights Duke has come in delivered.
The Reds relied mostly on the home run ball tonight, connecting on three solo shots off Cardinals starter Lance Lynn in three consecutive innings. Third baseman Todd Frazier got it started in the third with the first of his two homers on the night before Shin-Soo Choo connected his 20th of the season in the fourth and Jay Bruce hit his 27th in the fifth.
After they chase Lynn out of the game, the Reds added a big run in the bottom of the sixth, when Bruce drove in Choo for his second RBI of the night. Frazier hit his second solo homer of the game in the seventh, as the Reds scored in six straight innings.
The only bad news out of this for the Reds, came when second baseman Brandon Phillips exited with a contusion to his left quad after the seventh. Phillips appeared to sustain the injury while turning a double play in the sixth, and although he remained at second for the top of the seventh, he was replaced by Cesar Izturis before batting in the bottom of the inning. Fortunately for the Reds, the move was a precautionary.
Cincinnati has now won five of its last eight, including four of five against St. Louis. They will welcome the Los Angeles Dodgers for a big weekend series and also its Joe Morgan Weekend at the park, with the reunion of the Great eight team all beginning tomorrow night. Pitching match up for the opener will be Mike Leake for the Reds and Chris Capuano for the Dodgers. First pitch is at 7:10pm