After Joey Votto hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth on Tuesday to give the Cincinnati Reds a 7-6 victory, the St. Louis Cardinals responded on Wednesday night with a 12-7 win, fueled by four home runs. Wednesday's game was quite an offensive battle, as the Reds were good for two home runs of their own.
As the Chicago Cubs continue to run away with the lead in the NL Central division of Major League Baseball, the Cards and Reds will meet on Thursday night to see who comes away with the best two-out-of-three games in the series. The third place St. Louis Cardinals and last place Cincinnati Reds continue a division rivalry that reached a boiling point just a few years ago.While a win for St. Louis could potentially mean being tied with Pittsburgh as they begin their series against the Pirates on Friday, a win for the Reds would simply put them five games behind the Milwaukee Brewers, at best.
St. Louis Cardinals home runsAlfredo Simon got off to a bad start, as Matt Adams hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the first after Simon walked the first two batters he faced. Adams was 2-for-5 on the night and currently has the highest batting average (.333) of any of the Cardinals' regular starters. The Reds would play catch-up over the next few innings however, and the game would be tied 4-4 before the Cardinals saw their second home run on the night. In the top of the fifth, Brandon Moss hit a two-run homer to put the Cardinals up 6-4, and St. Louis held the lead for the rest of the game. In his next at-bat in the top of the seventh, as the Cardinals led the Reds 6-5, Moss sent another one out of the park with a single-run homer that put St. Louis up by two runs. Like Adam, Moss would end up going 2-for-5 on the night, one of three Cardinals players to tally three RBIs against the Reds on Wednesday (along with Adams and Jhonny Peralta). Peralta managed three RBIs off of a home run in the top of the eighth. It increased the Cards' lead to seven runs, which they would hold until the bottom of the ninth. Fortunately for St. Louis, it was too big of a lead for the Reds to overcome, with the final score being 12-7. Matt Bowman (1-1, 3.75 ERA) was awarded the win after pitching a single out in the bottom of the fifth.
Cincinnati Reds home runsDown 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth, Zack Cozart hit a solo shot to tie the game. Unfortunately, once St. Louis scored two runs in the top of the fifth, Cincinnati was never able to catch back up. Cozart went 2-for-5 on the night, good for two of the Reds' seven RBIs. He was the only member of the Reds' line-up with multiple runs batted in on Wednesday. The next inning, as Cincinnati trailed 6-4, Tucker Barnhart hit another single-run homer, bringing the Reds within a single run of the Cards. Barnhart was the most productive member of Cincinnati's offense on Wednesday, going 3-for-4 and crossing the plate twice.
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Rubber gameHaving split the series so far, the winner of Thursday night's rubber game will have NL Central bragging rights, at least until the teams play each other again in August, when the teams have two more three-game series in the first two weeks. Adam Wainwright (5-4, 5.40 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Cardinals on Thursday night, while Brandon Finnegan (2-4, 3.89 ERA) will be on the mound for the Reds. After this series, the Cardinals travel across state lines to face the Pittsburgh Pirates, Friday through Sunday. Meanwhile, the Reds will stay at home, hosting the Oakland Athletics for a three-game series over the weekend.
NL Central StandingsThe St. Louis Cardinals (31-28) continue to chase the Pittsburgh Pirates (32-27) for a Wild Card qualifying-position in the NL Central. The Pirates are playing in Colorado against the Rockies (27-32) on Thursday night. Still the best team in the MLB, the Chicago Cubs (41-17) have Thursday night off, leading the Pirates by 9.5 games before any of the Thursday night action begins. The Milwaukee Brewers (28-31) are hosting the New York Mets on Thursday night. They're currently three games behind the Cardinals and 13.5 games behind the Cubs. The last place Reds (22-37) will be 20 games behind the Cubs if they can't beat the Cards on Thursday.
Where To WatchThe St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds (final game of this series) is set for Thursday, June 9. As of Thursday afternoon, plenty of tickets were still available (directly through the Reds' website) for the Reds-Cardinals game for fans who want to watch the Cards vs. Reds live in Cincinnati. Thursday's match-up will be an evening game, which is scheduled to begin at 7:10 p.m. EST. The Cardinals-Reds game will air regionally on FOX Sports Ohio.
[Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images]