ST. LOUIS – The Cincinnati Reds couldn’t hold onto a four-run lead with their ace on the mound and their bullpen couldn’t keep up with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Nolan Arenado, the Cardinals’ big acquisition in the winter, drilled a go-ahead, two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning off Lucas Sims. The Reds, who haven’t won back-to-back games since Aug. 26-27, will have to wait at least a couple of more days after Saturday’s 6-4 loss at Busch Stadium in front of 33,404 fans.
Sims, who struck out all three batters he faced Friday, had trouble with the heart of the Cardinals lineup. Paul Goldschmidt lined a one-out double to the center-field wall. After Tyler O’Neill had a groundout to first base on a weird hop around the foul line, Arenado crushed a slider over the fence.
Arenado was rewarded with a curtain call as his teammates erupted with cheers in the dugout.
Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo completed seven innings, but he couldn’t hold the four-run lead he was handed in the third inning. Castillo permitted eight hits and four runs while striking out five.
When the Cardinals were trailing by two runs in the sixth inning, they had a two-out rally sparked by a dribbler back to the mound. O’Neill was initially called out, but it was quickly overturned on replay review. Arenado followed with an RBI triple down the left-field line to end an eight-pitch at-bat, the ball misplayed a bit in the corner by left fielder Max Schrock.
After a mound visit, Dylan Carlson hit a fly ball into no-man’s land in center field. Reds center fielder Tyler Naquin and shortstop Jose Barrero collided in their attempt to make the inning-ending catch, the ball dropping for a game-tying, RBI double. Naquin left the game with bruised ribs after taking a knee to the chest.
The Reds rallied with two outs in the third inning with the top of the lineup facing Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas for the second time. Jonathan India thumped a two-run homer to straightaway center field for his 20th home run of the season.
The 24-year-old India became the sixth rookie in franchise history to hit 20 home runs, the first since Joey Votto (24) and Jay Bruce (21) did it in 2008. He has 14 homers since the All-Star break, which is tied for the seventh-most in the National League.
Schrock, who made a catch before colliding into the left-field wall in the first inning and a diving catch in the sixth, extended the inning after India’s homer with a single to center. Schrock was moved into the No. 2 hole for the first time this season as a reward for his hot bat.
Nick Castellanos, the next batter, drilled an elevated curveball over the left-field fence for a two-run homer. It was Castellanos’ 28th home run of the season, which is a career-high.
Castellanos started running to his position in right field between innings before returning to the dugout fence to initiate a high-five sequence with Eugenio Suárez. Some routines are sacred.
In the bottom of the third inning, Paul DeJong hit a leadoff homer off Castillo to center field. After Harrison Bader, the No. 8 hitter, followed with a double, Tommy Edman hit an RBI single. A slick double play between India and Barrero prevented the inning from snowballing.
The Reds, however, didn’t produce a hit in four innings against the Cardinals bullpen.