(BaseballStL) — Live by the big inning, die by the big inning. The Cardinals have won five of their last six games, but have earned some grey hairs a long the way.
Three of the wins have been one-run games and nearly all of them have seen the Birds score early, then either hang on by their fingernails or have to retake a lost lead.
Monday’s game was another hard-fought victory, with a three-run advantage being erased by the Reds in the fifth inning.
“In the fifth, my arm started dragging behind and wasn’t able to make the adjustments to get back,” said starter Justin Masterson said at his locker.
Cincinnati would tally three hits for four runs in the frame, capping their volley with a three-run homer by Jay Bruce.
The quartet of runs seem to stagger the home crowd, but the Cardinals tied the contest off a Daniel Descalso double in the seventh.
Jon Jay began the rally with a one-out single, setting the stage for the St. Louis utility man to make an impact.
“I’m just looking to keep the rally going and get on base for the top of the order,” he said. Instead, he evened the score with a gap double and his eighth RBI of the season.
“Coming off the bench you have to be aggressive. “You have to go up there ready to hit and he came after me,” Descalso said. “I was ready to hit his fastball there.”
A.J. Pierzynski would pick up a go-ahead single in the eighth, bringing home Jhonny Peralta who had doubled with two outs.
It was the third two-out RBI in the game for the Cardinals, who lead the National League with 201.
“I keep going back to the fact that what we did last year wasn’t a fluke. Same approach, a lot of the same characters and we just had a tougher time making that happen early in the season,” Mike Matheny said of his club’s two-out success.
The Birds would earn another grey hair when Billy Hamilton walked, stole second, advanced to third on the throw and tied the game in the top of the ninth on a Bruce double.
It would take 10 innings for St. Louis to pull it out, with the game winner coming off Peralta’s bat. After Matt Holliday singled with one away, Matt Adams moved him to third with a shot into right.
With men at the corners, Peralta stepped to the plate amid the roar of a reenergized crowd. With the middle infield at double play depth, the Reds needed a ground ball to bail them out.
“I knew they were trying to play for the double play so in that situation I tried to get the ball to the outfield and try to stay in the middle of the field,” Peralta said. “I knew he’d try to come inside with a sinker and I tried to get a good swing early.”
The shortstop got the ball in the air, lofting it over the head of Ryan Ludwick in left field. The outfield had drawn in hoping for a shot at catching Holliday and had no chance on Peralta’s ball.
With the win, the Cardinals are 10 games over .500 and 2.5 back of the Brewers. The Reds fall to nine full games out of the division lead.
“It worked out pretty good today. Even though it wasn’t perfect, a win’s a win,” Masterson said with a smile, adding he feels optimistic about what’s ahead. “A couple steps forward, maybe a half step back, but now we’re able to lean forward into our next one.”