Given another chance, Edman homers in ninth to give Cardinals 5-4 victory

Given another chance, Edman homers in ninth to give Cardinals 5-4 victory

Tommy Edman, who uncharacteristically had grounded into a double play to snuff out a Cardinals rally in the seventh — he also went off script by giving his helmet a considerable toss — got another chance in the ninth inning Saturday.

Needing only a single to tie the score, Edman went big, cracking a two-out, two-run, game-ending home run off Joel Kuhnel to enable the Cardinals to overcome the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 at Busch Stadium before a huge crowd of 43,832.

The home run was the first hit by either the Cardinals or Cincinnati in five games played between the two teams this year. Juan Yepez, replacing Harrison Bader, who had been benched for lack of effort, had singled with two out and pinch runner Edmundo Sosa had moved up on a wild pickoff throw by Kuhnel to give Edman an opportunity after Yadier Molina had grounded into a double play

After hitting the first walk-off RBI of his big-league career, Edman said, “In that situation, with the tying run at second, I’m not trying to get under one. I’m just trying to find a way to get the ball to the outfield past the infielders. I didn’t think it was going to get out. I was a little surprised to see it bounce in the bullpen.

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“The seventh inning, I didn’t come through. A little frustration, there,” said Edman.

“I did a good job of getting past that and trying to find a way to help us win later in the game. That’s something I’ve gotten better at — putting those at-bats behind me — in knowing I could have another chance later in the game. Kind of like I had today.”

Edman recalled his last previous walk-off homer had come when he was a freshman at Stanford and his hit won an NCAA Regional final in 2014 against top-seeded Indiana, whose catcher was noted Cardinal killer Kyle Schwarber.

“I think it was the same situation,” Edman said. “We were down 4-3. Runner on second.”

After the game-winner Saturday, Edman said to himself, “This seems kind of familiar. I have done this before.”

That college homer was Edman’s first as a left-handed hitter, bringing back memories of another switch hitting shortstop’s first homer left-handed — Ozzie Smith in the 1985 National League championship series.

Starting pitcher Adam Wainwright said “He’s everyone’s favorite player. He just does everything right.”

Wainwright’s dismal 10-16 career record against Cincinnati is something of a mystery in that much of this damage has been done in the supposedly more friendly confines of Busch Stadium rather than Great American Ball Park.

Wainwright is 98-48 with a 2.67 earned run average at Busch against all teams not named the Redlegs. After a no-decision against the Reds, Wainwright is 3-8 against Cincinnati at Busch III with a whopping earned run average of 5.27.

“It makes no sense,” said Wainwright.

But it turned out to be a centerpiece moment for Wainwright and catcher Molina, who teamed as a starting battery for the 316th time, tying Milwaukee Braves Warren Spahn and Del Crandall for second all time, eight behind Detroit’s Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan. Wainwright blanked the Reds in six of the seven innings he pitched, being tagged for three runs in the third.

“Just one more place (Lolich-Freehan) to go,” said Wainwright. “Each time, we pass somebody, it’s an incredible blessing. We’re getting there. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

Wainwright, who didn’t strike out any Chicago Cubs hitters over seven innings in his last start after fanning 10 in seven innings against San Diego in the start before, fanned seven and walked one on Saturday. Joey Votto, who went down twice, hadn’t struck out against Wainwright in seven years.

“That was one of my goals,” said Wainwright. “I told Yadi, ‘We’re striking out Joey Votto.’”

Wainwright hung a couple of curveballs in the third, including one to former teammate Tommy Pham, who hit a two-run double and Kyle Farmer, who had four hits, singled off another curveball.

“Just a couple of faulty curveballs when it comes down to it,” Wainwright said. “Curveball wasn’t great today. Everything else was pretty good.

“You give up three runs. You’ve got to find a way to keep it there.”

The Cardinals did little or nothing for the first five innings with fire-balling Reds rookie Hunter Greene. Nolan Arenado’s second-inning double was their only dent against the right-hander.

Greene entered the game having retired the final 20 men he faced in a game against Arizona on Monday, and a couple of weeks before he threw 7 1/3 no-hit innings in a 1-0 loss at Pittsburgh.

It appeared the Cardinals’ best chance — perhaps only chance — was to get into the Reds’ bullpen. That they did in the sixth inning after Edman opened with a single off Greene’s foot and then Greene hit Nolan Gorman in the foot with a pitch.

Greene was at 101 pitches and the Cardinals’ strategy of making Greene work hard early to get his pitch count up, had been successful. Marmol said the Cardinals were “trying to take one inning away from him.”

In this case, it was six to five.

Arenado later walked on four pitches against Alexis Diaz and Tyler O’Neill took a shot at a grand slam but center fielder Nick Senzel jumped against the center-field wall to pull the ball in. “I thought I got pretty good wood on it,” O’Neill said. “It seemed to have died at the end.”

The Cardinals threatened in the eighth when Dylan Carlson reached second on an infield hit and a throwing error by second baseman Alejo Lopez. Carlson ran into first baseman Colin Moran, who was stretching for a throw. Moran, knocked down, had to come out of the game. Carlson had a gash on his chin attended to and had a couple of stitches after the game.

Carlson moved to third on Molina’s groundout and Reds manager David Bell, whose bullpen is suspect, brought his infield in even though the Reds were two runs ahead.

Yepez walked and Bell then moved his second baseman and shortstop back into double play position. Luis Cessa induced Edman to bounce to shortstop Farmer.

The Reds then increased their lead to three runs again in the eighth against Drew VerHagen on three singles. But O’Neill doubled into the left-center-field gap, driving in two, to cut the margin to 4-3 in the home eighth.

“You can see there definitely was an adjustment that was made,” said Marmol, referring to O’Neill’s ability to get on top of fastballs thrown to him. “He’s on time. And when he’s on time, it can be pretty scary.”

Kuhnel relieved and O’Neill, who was armed with intelligence, took off for third with one out. But Kuhnel stepped off the rubber and threw to third, where O’Neill was tagged out to end the rally.

“They chose right,” said Marmol.

“They had a heavy shift on (Brendan) Donovan,” said O’Neill. “I thought I could sneak behind the third baseman. Obviously, a little overaggressive and it came to nip me in the end.”

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