ST. LOUIS — Paul DeJong closed out a rough August with two big swings.
It’s another positive sign for the rolling St. Louis Cardinals.
DeJong hit a three-run homer and a two-run single for a career-high five RBIs, helping Austin Gomber and the Cardinals pound the Cincinnati Reds 12-5 on Friday night.
“Just trying to find my rhythm these last couple weeks,” said DeJong, who batted just .202 in August. “I feel like I’ve been struggling a little bit. Just constantly working, trying to find my swing and find my rhythm. Today I felt like it showed up.”
Matt Carpenter hit his NL-best 35th homer as St. Louis pulled within 3 1/2 games of NL Central-leading Chicago. Gomber (5-0) pitched seven effective innings and also contributed a two-run double.
The surging Cardinals have won eight of 10 to improve to 28-13 since the All-Star break. They also lead the NL wild-card standings.
Scooter Gennett and Scott Schebler had three hits apiece for last-place Cincinnati, which has dropped three straight and eight of nine.
Homer Bailey (1-13) was charged with seven runs, three earned, and nine hits in five innings.
“He’s getting closer and closer being what he can be,” Cincinnati interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “But, as he goes through it, he’s not getting away with anything. Hitters are all over his stuff.”
Gennett had an RBI single in the Reds’ two-run first, but the Cardinals took over from there.
Gomber hit a tying double before Carpenter connected in the second, sending a drive down the right-field line. DeJong added his 15th homer in the third.
The Cardinals have been getting some key hits from their pitching staff lately, including recent homers by starters John Gant and Miles Mikolas.
“There’s a lot of competition, we push each other,” Gomber said. “I was able to put a good swing on it, that’s probably the best swing I’ve taken my entire life.”
Cincinnati closed to 7-5 when Schebler hit a two-run shot and Jose Peraza added a sacrifice fly in the eighth. But St. Louis responded with five runs in the bottom half.
Patrick Wisdom hit his second homer. DeJong drove in Yadier Molina and Jose Martinez, and Yairo Munoz added another two-run single.
The Reds dropped 1-18 in Bailey’s 19 starts this year.
“I think it’s almost like a snowball effect,” DeJong said about overcoming the early deficit. “We’ve done it a few times, come from behind and all of a sudden it becomes our new normal. Whenever we’re down, we don’t expect to stay down and we try to pick each other up. It almost gives us an extra boost.”
Carpenter became the fourth lefty batter to hit at least 35 homers in a season for St. Louis, joining Stan Musial, Jim Edmonds and Johnny Mize.
PITCHING, PITCHING, PITCHING
Matt Wisler relieved Bailey in his first appearance with Cincinnati. Wisler was acquired in a July 30 trade with Atlanta and recalled from Triple-A Louisville on Friday.
Wisler allowed one hit in two scoreless innings. Infielder Brandon Dixon got the final out for the Reds, retiring Wisdom on a fly ball to deep right-center.
Cardinals: OF Marcell Ozuna (right shoulder inflammation) is expected to be activated Saturday, but manager Mike Schildt said the outfielder will see limited action for the near future. … RHP Michael Wacha (oblique) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Saturday. He has been out since June 21.
Reds: RHP Luis Castillo (7-11, 5.07 ERA) gets the ball on Saturday. He went 1-3 with a 5.57 ERA in four August starts.
Cardinals: RHP Daniel Poncedeleon (0-0, 2.08 ERA) returns as part of the team’s September promotions.