The St. Louis Cardinals finally figured out where they packed their offense Thursday, scoring seven runs against the Cincinnati Reds to win their first series of the season.
The Redbirds found themselves behind early when starting pitcher Lance Lynn gave up a two-out hit in the first inning and then things rapidly got out of hand.
Joey Votto volleyed a double to left field and the Lynn left a pitch over the middle of the plate and Jay Bruce hit a ball clear over the right field stands to put Cincinnati up 2-0. Lynn, still reeling, made another bad pitch to Todd Frazier who hit a ball out to left to make it 3-0.
It looked like the Cardinals might be done with a combined eight hits and one run in their previous 18 innings of play. But the Birds got a little bit of two-out magic to cut into the deficit. Matt Adams stroked an opposite field double and then Jhonny Peralta lined a homer just inside the left field foul pole to make the score 3-2.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
Jon Jay, who started his first game of the year, tied the game in the fourth with a line drive into the left centerfield gap to score Adams who was on base after his second opposite field double of the game. The score remained tied at three until the fifth when the Cardinals took advantage of their new speed element and scored Kolten Wong from first after he walked and then Matt Holliday doubled into the left field corner.
St. Louis plated three runs in the seventh inning thanks, in part, to a controversial play that included the Cardinals' first exposure to instant replay.
With two on and no outs, Holliday hit a long fly to the top of the right centerfield wall. The Reds contended that the ball hit the glove of centerfielder Billy Hamilton and then bounced back into play where it was caught just before it hit the ground by a diving Jay Bruce.
The replay clearly revealed that the ball hit the wall, not Hamilton's glove. But, because of confusion over whether Holliday was safe or out, the runners were only able to advance one base and the Birds couldn't grab the lead.
Allen Craig made the bad break academic when he singled off the glove of shortstop Zack Cozart to give St. Louis a 5-3 lead. Catcher Yadier Molina singled to make the score 6-3 and then Adams and Peralta popped out to seemingly waste a chance to add on to the St. Louis lead. But the Cardinals salvaged a run when Jon Jay was thrown a wild pitch and Holliday came home to roost.
The Cardinals would need all three insurance runs as the Reds scored three in the bottom of the seventh. Trevor Rosenthal completed a four-out save to salt away the win.
Lynn barely made it through five innings, giving up three runs on eight hits. But four of the hits and all three runs came on consecutive at-bats with two outs in the bottom of the first. If Lynn could have made one more good pitch and got out of that inning, he might have gone six or more innings with no runs allowed on five hits.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Adams hit two opposite field doubles to force the Reds to stop playing him with an exaggerated shift. Then he pulled another double for his first hit of the season that wasn't to left. The slugging first baseman's big day improved his batting average to .417 for the young season.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Peralta's home run got the Redbirds off the deck and ignited the offense when it seemed that they might get buried early.
Lowlight: The Birds' problems with the leather continued Thursday when Jay collided with Holliday as the left fielder was waiting for a lazy fly to come down.
Lowlight II: Adams went over the rolled up tarp to try to make a catch on a foul pop-up and not only got into a shoving match with a Reds fan who seemed to prevent the St. Louis first baseman from catching the ball, the fan also was caught on television making an obscene gesture towards Adams.