Dusty Baker told Tony Cingrani not to swing the bat. So the rookie pitcher bunted for a hit with two outs in the second, setting off a string of six scoring innings in the Reds' 6-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
After a bitter 16-inning loss on Wednesday night, the Reds blasted four home runs to bounce back but it was the bunt single and stolen base that jumped-started the Reds.
Tony Cingrani was taken off the disabled list where he recovered from a strained lower back
"We told him not to swing the bat," Dusty Baker said. "He just did the next best thing."
Baker forgot to tell Cingrani not to try to steal.
"He thinks like a winner," Baker said before the game. "We didn't know how far he was going to go. We didn't have a pitch count on him. We were going to let the Cardinals' hitters tell us when he had enough. He'd been running the bases. He bunted. He stole. He surprised all of us. Cingrani said they weren't watching him. He will do anything to beat you."
"I wanted to get into Lance Lynn's head," Cingrani said. "They weren't paying attention to me. I thought if the count went to two strikes on Choo, I'd go. If I got thrown out, Choo would lead off the next inning.'
The rookie gave up a harmless single in the first inning.
"It was great to get out there," Cingrani said. "It is hard to sit around for 16 days."
The Reds failed to take advantage of wildness from St. Louis starter Lance Lynn. Lynn walked Joey Votto, Bruce and Ryan Ludwick with two outs. Frazier struck out on some high heat.
Cingrani got the Reds' offense started. He bunted on Lynn and beat the Cardinals' pitcher to the bag with two outs. Then he surprised the 21,418 fans and likely the rosters of both teams by stealing second base. Bronson Arroyo was the last Cincinnati pitcher to steal a base.on August 31, 2008. Choo walked as Cingrani moved up on a wild pitch. When Brandon Phillips hit a ground ball in the hole at short, Choo beat Ryan Jackson's throw to allow Cingrani to score.
Solo home runs by Frazier, Choo and Bruce provided Reds' scoring in the next three innings. It was a career-high for home runs allowed by Lynn, who had never lost to the Reds in five decisions.
Cingrani gave up a home run to David Freese in the fifth. The Cardinals closed the gap with a run in the sixth. Matt Carpenter tripled with one out and scored on a wild pitch. Shane Robinson singled off the Reds' rookie. Cingrani walked Matt Holliday. Dusty Baker turned the ball over to Zach Duke. Duke got Carlos Beltran to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play.
"I was a little amped up when Carpenter hit that triple," Cingrani said.
The Reds are last in the National League in turning double plays. They turned just 101 coming into the game but turned three within a span of four innings.
"None were bigger than the one Duke got," Baker said. "We've seen the Cardinals get rolling. They can start a merry-go-round real quick."
The double play in the sixth inning cost the Reds its All-Star secondbaseman. He left the game with a contusion on his quad.
"We took him out as a precaution," Baker said. "This time of year when you're fatigued is when you get hurt. We will see how he feels tomorrow."
Frazier had a single in addition to his 13th and 14th home runs. Frazier was 8-for-16 in the series.
"It felt pretty nice to hit some balls hard. That's all we try to do," Frazier said. "I was struggling against the Cardinals. Everybody knows that. I was one for thirty something against them. To finish strong against them with a couple extra base hits and a couple RBI was pretty big."
The Reds won three of the four games. They closed to within a game and a half of the Cardinals for second place in the NL Central. They are now three games behind the division-leading Pittsburgh Pirates.
"That's what we needed to do," Frazier said.
Jay Bruce had two RBI to give him 90 on the year. His home run was his 27th.
Choo's home run was his 20th of the season, His career high is the 22 he hit for Cleveland in 2010. It was his third home run in his last five games.
Zack Cozart extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
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