ST. LOUIS (— After sputtering for most of May, the St. Louis Cardinals are running past opponents.
Paul DeJong homered and St. Louis tied its season high with four stolen bases in a 3-1 win against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday that completed a 4-1 homestand.
“We’re always going to look to attack,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “We don’t hold our cards back a whole lot. It’s just about opportunity.”
After dropping five games back in the division in late May, St. Louis closed within 2½ games behind the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs and second-place Milwaukee. St. Louis started 20-10 but is just 31-29 overall.
DeJong hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer off Michael Lorenzen (0-1) in the seventh inning, DeJong’s ninth home run this season and first since May 18. He had been in a 3-for-43 slide with no extra-base hits.
“Probably too patient, taking too many heaters early in the count,” DeJong said. “Today I felt on that last at bat I was sticking to the middle, and it showed up and I put a good swing on it.”
Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, Marcell Ozuna and Dexter Fowler swiped bases for the Cardinals, who are tied with Milwaukee for the NL lead with 37. Wong became the only player in the major leagues who has 10 steals without being caught.
St. Louis stole three bases off DeSclafani after not registering a theft in two previous games against him.
“It’s not a huge running team, but they do look for opportunities,” Reds manager David Bell said. “That’s what happened today.”
John Gant (5-0) pitched 1 1/3 perfect innings in his ninth relief appearance of four outs or more this season. He is tied with Adam Wainwright for the team lead in wins.
Jordan Hicks threw a 1-2-3 ninth for his 12th save in 13 chances.
Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson allowed one run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings, which matched his high in 12 starts this season.
“He’s a guy that’s attacking with his stuff,” Shildt said. “He’s got such a heavy ball, and he’s got the good slider going too. He’s on the plate with both of them, ahead in counts. It’s a good recipe.”
Anthony DeSclafani gave up one run and six hits in five innings.
“It was a big day for him against a really good team,” Bell said. “I feel like the adjustments he’s making are showing up on the mound. You hold this team to one run over five innings, that’s a good day.”
Harrison Bader singled leading off the third, Hudson sacrificed and Bader realized third base was uncovered and kept on running, sliding in head first. Carpenter singled through the drawn-in infield.
“It just kind of boils down to wanting everything, wanting to be on first, wanting to take that extra base,” Bader said. “That was just kind of a hustle play.”
Tucker Barnhart hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
Cardinals: RHP Mike Mayers (right lat strain) is slated to throw a bullpen session Friday or Saturday according to Shildt.