The Cardinals followed their early season blueprint for success Wednesday, building a 3-0 lead against the Reds.
But unfocused play caused the Birds to let their lead slip away and they were forced to settle for taking two out of three games against the Reds instead of picking up a clean sweep when they lost on a pinch hit, walk off single in the bottom of the ninth.
St. Louis scored all its runs with two out in the third when starting pitcher Jaime Garcia singled and scored when shortstop Rafael Furcal tripled to right field. Jon Jay then cranked his first homer of the season -- a shot to centerfield -- to put the Redbirds up by three.
Unfortunately, on this occasion, Garcia was more effective as a hitter than a pitcher. And he quickly let Cincinnati back up off the floor by allowing singles to the first two batters he faced and then a double to Joey Votto to make the score 3-1 with runners on second and third with no one out. Garcia pulled himself together to strike out the next two batters before getting an inning ending ground out. But he was in trouble again before he knew it.
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In the fifth inning, a pair of hits and a walk loaded the bases with no outs. Reds outfielder Jay Bruce hit a sacrifice fly to make the game 3-2 and Garcia got a pop out to put him in position to again wiggle off the hook. But he made a bad play on a bunt from Wilson Valdez that tied the game and made him the first Cardinals starter this season not to figure in on the decision in a game.
Garcia ended up allowing a total of 11 hits in only 4 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out four.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Jon Jay.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Jay's two-run homer.
Lowlight: Garcia's unfocused pitching performance.