The pattern of abuse continues when it comes to the St. Louis Cardinals against the Cincinnati Reds and Bryan Price is tired of it.
Seemingly, every bounce, every call, every move in the rubber game of this three-game series in front of a sold-out crowd and national TV audience went the Cardinals way in a 4-0 whitewash.
Adam Wainwright shut down the Reds' offense for the second time this year. He bested Johnny Cueto on opening day with seven scoreless innings in a 1-0 win. Yadier Molina homered to provide all the scoring that day but sat out this contest to take a rest.
It is not just Wainwright that Price is tired of talking about it.
"Wainwright is really good but I'm really tired of talking about the other team's pitching and how good they are to be honest with you," Price said with no trace of a smile. "I just to the point that I'm tired of talking about how well these other guys are pitching against us. We have a really good pitching staff too. There is no reason that we're not more competitive. I've said it for a long time and we can't talk about the injuries anymore. We're almost completely healthy. We can't talk about what it's done to our lineup and so on and so forth but I do know that these guys (Reds) can hit and produce runs and hit situationally and more than we have at this point. Baseball is a game of frustration. I get it. They get it. Everyone gets it. It's just been a frustrating the first couple months. I just hope to go to LA and do some damage, do what we're capable of doing. I have no idea what the lineup will look like. It may look different. I don't know."
"Leake is pitching winning baseball every time he takes the ball. He is not just competing. He's giving us a chance to win every time out. There is nothing he can do," Price said.
The first two innings were scoreless but in the third Molina's replacement, Tony Cruz singled. Wainwright bunted him to second. Leake struck out Matt Carpenter but Kolten Wong laced a single to centerfield to provide all the offense Wainwright needed.
Zack Cozart, who was hitting .350 over his last 10 games, singled one out into the third. Leake bunted Cozart into scoring positions. Billy Hamilton, who struck out in each of his first five appearances against Wainwright drew a walk. Todd Frazier sent a hard grounder up the middle that looked promising to the Reds. It took a big hop right into the glove of shortstop Jhonny Peralta who nipped Hamilton to end the threat.
"He never gives you a pitch out over the plate that you can drive," Cozart said of Wainwright. "He is like Johnny Cueto. He works the corners. You may get a single but nothing you can drive."
Leake matched Wainwright after that until the sixth.
"Wainwright is always tough. He's one of the best pitchers in the league. It is always going to be a battle when you face him," Leake said. "I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing. You can't control any of this stuff. All you can control is how you throw the ball and where you throw the ball. I'll just keep plugging away."
Matt Adams singled to open the inning. Allen Craig walked. Leake fanned Peralta and Jon Jay and was on his way to pitching out of trouble but Cruz drove Adams home with a single.
Manny Parra relieved Leake.
Matt Carpenter opened the frame with a hit to right and headed for second. Bruce made a strong throw but secondbase umpire Bill Miller called him safe on a close play. Reds' manager Bryan Price had used his challenge in the third, protested but the umpire used his right not to review the second play. Price asked for a replay review in the third when Miller ruled that Wong reached around Phillips' attempt to block the base. The ruling was upheld in New York.
Wong bunted Carpenter to third. Matt Holliday topped a pitch that rolled just far enough that catcher Devin Mesoraco couldn't get to Carpenter racing home. His only option was an off-balanced throw to first but the ball sailed into the stands. Holliday was awarded second. Holliday wasn't out of lives yet. Adams hit a one-hop grounder to Parra on the mound. Holliday was too far off and Parra ran right at him to make him commit as taught. The problem was that he flipped too late and too hard to Cozart, who couldn't handle it and both runners were safe. Sam LeCure replaced Parra and gave up a single to Craig to cap the scoring.
The Reds wasted a pair of perfectly good scoring opportunities against the Cardinals ace.
Brayan Pena and Cozart had back-to-back singles with one out in the fifth. Leake bunted them up a base but Hamilton struck out again.
Mesoraco and Ryan Ludwick opened the seventh with singles. Pena flied out to left. Cozart flied to right. Price sent former Cardinal Skip Schumaker up to try to get a run home but Wainwright made him one of his 12 strikeout victims, tying a career high.