CINCINNATI (AP) — An inconsistent St. Louis Cardinals lineup cranked out just enough offense Sunday to stay in first place.
Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run homer, Tommy Edman added a solo shot among his three hits and the Cardinals held off the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 to split a strange four-game series in which they totaled two runs in their two losses and 23 in a pair of wins.
“It was up and down,” Edman said. “We scored one run in the first and third games, exploded in the second and did pretty good today. A lot of it depends on the pitcher you run into.”
Jack Flaherty’s scoreless streak was snapped at 23 innings, but he allowed only one run in five frames as St. Louis remained just ahead of the Chicago Cubs atop the NL Central.
Carlos Martinez gave up three straight hits and two runs to open the ninth but hung on for his 14th save, striking out Eugenio Suàrez to end it. Suàrez homered early but also committed a costly error at third base and grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the seventh.
Reds rookie Aristides Aquino went 0 for 2 with two walks after hitting 10 home runs in his previous 11 games.
Suàrez went deep in the first inning, his first at-bat after missing Saturday’s game with a sprained left thumb. That run was the first against Flaherty (7-6) since a 5-3 win over Houston on July 26. He had thrown seven scoreless innings in each of his three previous August starts.
“The one to Suàrez got away,” Flaherty said. “I was flying open. I lost my mechanics a little bit.”
The right-hander improved to 3-0 in four starts this month after allowing three hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
“Jack was good,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. “He wasn’t quite as crisp as he has been, but that’s a pretty high bar. He pitched well with the lead. He had a little more in the tank, but his command was starting to get away from him.”
Left-hander Alex Wood made his fifth start for the Reds after spending the first four months of the season on the injured list with a lower back problem. Wood (1-2) gave up eight hits and five runs — four earned — in five innings, with one walk and six strikeouts.
“The moral of the story is that I have to keep the ball in the ballpark,” Wood said.” I don’t think I’ve ever gone through a period like this where I gave up a lot of home runs. The only bad pitch I made was the one to Goldschmidt.”
Goldschmidt wiped out a 1-0 deficit with his 28th homer, driving in Edman in the third. Yadier Molina reached on Suàrez’s two-base throwing error and scored on Lane Thomas’ single in the fourth.
Edman hit his fifth home run with one out in the fifth. One out later, Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna teamed up on back-to-back doubles for a 5-1 lead.
The Reds loaded the bases with one out in the seventh against Giovanny Gallegos. Andrew Miller came on to walk in a run before John Gant got Suàrez to bounce into a double play.
Before the game, the Reds placed 1B Joey Votto on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Thursday, with lower back tightness that had kept him out of the past three games.