Friday, August 24, 2012 - At Great American Ballpark (Lance Lynn - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent: Cincinnati Reds (Mat Latos - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance: 36,162
The Cardinals entered the sixth-inning at Great American Ballpark trailing Mat Latos and the Reds by three runs - by the time they were finished, the Cardinals had turned the tables - turning that three-run deficit into a three-run advantage, en route to an 8-5 win. Joe Kelly, who entered the game in relief of Lance Lynn - inheriting two runners on base in the bottom of the third - worked three innings of mostly dominant relief to notch the win (4-5). Kelly allowed one run on five hits and one walk - with six strikeouts - all swinging.
As a matter of fact, all six pitchers used by manager Mike Matheny - Lynn, Kelly, Salas, Mujica, Boggs and Motte - all had at least one strikeout in the game. The final total of fourteen strikeouts featured thirteen that were of the "swing and miss" variety.
Starter Lance Lynn didn't last long in this one - however, he avoided total disaster in the first-inning - when with one run already in, and runners on first and third and nobody out - he induced Ryan Ludwick to ground into a 5-4-3 double play. A second run scored - but that was it - at least for now.
David Freese returned the favor in the second-inning - with runners on first and third and nobody out - he grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Allen Craig, who singled to open the inning, scored the run for St Louis.
The Reds came right back with another run in their half of the second - when Ryan Hanigan's sacrifice fly scored Todd Frazier from third, to make it a 3-1 Cincinnati lead.
After the Cardinals failed to score on Latos in the third, the Reds put the first two runners on base in their half of the third. Singles by Brandon Phillips and Ludwick prompted Matheny to bring Kelly in from the bullpen to restore order. After yielding an RBI single by Frazier and an infield hit by Scott Rolen - Kelly found himself in a bases loaded-one out jam - but he struck out Hanigan and Latos to avoid further damage.
The Cardinals - trailing 4-1 entering the fourth-inning - got a two-out single by Yadier Molina to keep the inning alive. Then with Freese batting, Latos uncorked a wild pitch to move Yadi up to second - and this time Freese drove him in with a base hit to center.
Kelly struck out the side in the bottom of the fourth - giving him a string of five straight strikeouts - but he ran into more trouble in the fifth-inning. With one run already in and runners on second and third with just one out - Kelly issued an intentional walk to Hanigan - then stuck out Latos again for the second out. Then, lead-off hitter Zack Cozart nearly hit one out of the park to deep center field - but Jon Jay hauled it in at the base of the wall to retire the side.
Trailing 5-2 entering the sixth-inning - the Redbirds began teeing off on a suddenly ineffective Latos. Singles by Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday preceded Allen Craig's game-tying three-run home run to straight-away center field. Next up - Molina - made it back-to-back jack with an opposite field shot to right - which just got over right fielder Jay Bruce's outstretched glove. The Redbirds tacked on two more runs. After Latos walked Freese - the fifth straight batter to reach base - manager Dusty Baker finally pulled his starter - bringing in Alfredo Simon to face Skip Schumaker - who promptly singled to left, as Freese stopped at second. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third - still nobody out.
Rafael Furcal scored Freese from third with a single to center, as Skip skipped to third on the hit. Pinch hitter Matt Carpenter (for Joe Kelly) brought in the sixth and final run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to center. It was also the first out recorded in the inning - but all good things must end sometime.
The Cardinals now had the lead - 8-5 - and that's how it ended.
Fernando Salas - in relief of Kelly - struck out the three batters he faced in the sixth.
Edward Mujica struck out the first two batters in the seventh in his perfect inning of relief.
Mitchell Boggs was perfect in the eighth - with one strikeout. He got Stubbs on a called third strike - a rarity in this game.
Jason Motte made it interesting in the ninth - allowing a pair of hits - but striking out Scott Rolen to earn his 30th save of the season.
Even with this win over first-place Cincinnati, the Cardinals (69-56) were still six games behind in the NL Central race. The race for the second wild card spot was definitely up for grabs, however. The Redbirds were a game and a half behind the Atlanta Braves for the number one spot - but they held a game and a half advantage over the Dodgers for that second slot.
Despite a fairly lackluster 19-18 finish, the Cardinals still held onto that second wild card berth, as LA could only muster an even .500 (18-18) stretch run.