A night after pounding out a dozen runs, the Cardinals could not get anything going at the plate, and the Reds hurled their way to a 4-0 victory in St. Louis on Saturday night. The win for the Reds evens the series at a game apiece and sets up a rubber game for Sunday.
Following Saturday’s loss, the Cardinals are 76-60 and sit 4 1⁄2 games back of the victorious Cubs in the National League Central division; Chicago is now 80-55. The Cardinals fell in to a tie with the Brewers in the Wild Card race, and the Dodgers are lingering at 2 1⁄2 games out.
Cincinnati starter Luis Castillo was dominant in his Saturday assignment. In what was the best start of the 25-year-old’s career thus far, Castillo limited the Cardinals to just two base hits in 6 2⁄3 innings with 11 strikeouts - a personal best for an outing. David Hernandez and Raisel Iglesias combined to record the final seven outs of the ballgame. Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter and reliever Tyson Ross had the only hits of the game for St. Louis. Right fielder Jose Martinez fanned three times, and Carpenter, left fielder Tyler O’Neill, and center fielder Harrison Bader each struck out twice.
Daniel Poncedeleon started for the Cardinals and lasted 3 1⁄3 innings. The Reds knocked the rookie out of the game in the fourth, when they scored three runs. First baseman Joey Votto knocked in a run, and third baseman Eugenio Suarez drove in two more. Ross entered in relief of Poncedeleon and turn in 4 2⁄3 frames. Tucker Barnhart batted in a run in the top of the seventh inning, and that was the only real blemish of Ross’s outing. Tyler Webb worked the ninth inning, his first big-league appearance since mid-August.
With Ross giving the Cardinals much-needed relief, St. Louis enters Sunday’s finale with a fairly-rested bullpen. Luke Weaver is expected to make the start for the Cardinals as they try to win their 11th consecutive series. Weaver will face off with Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani at 1:15 PM Central time.