ST. LOUIS (AP) — Harrison Bader returned from a month-long sojourn in the minors with a brand new philosophy.
“Slow everything down, keep it super simple, super easy,” the St. Louis outfielder said.
The rejuvenated Bader continued his hit parade with a game-ending single to lift the Cardinals to a 4-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday in the first game of a day-night double-header.
St. Louis, which has won nine of 10 and 12 of 14, pushed its lead over the Chicago Cubs to three games in the NL Central.
Eugenio Suarez homered for the Reds, who have dropped four in a row
Bader, facing five infielders with no one out, lofted a fly ball off Michael Lorenzen (0-4) to deep right field to bring in pinch-runner Tyler O’Neill.
“In that situation, I was aware of the infielders, but I wasn’t paying attention to them,” Bader said. “Because I’m just trying to get the ball in the air.”
Bader is hitting .333 (12-for-36) with nine RBI in 12 games since being recalled from Triple-A Memphis
He hit .317 with seven homers and 15 RBI in 16 games in Memphis prior to his recall.
Bader’s game-ending hit was the first of his career.
“He didn’t make the moment bigger than it was,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. “That’s the sign of a great player.”
Jose Martinez began the rally with a walk. Yadier Molina followed with a ground rule double to set the stage for Bader’s hit.
St. Louis scored single runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth for its second consecutive last at-bat win following a 3-2 triumph on Saturday.
Carlos Martinez (4-2) picked up the victory by striking out the side in the ninth on 13 pitches.
Cincinnati starter Tyler Mahle, who was added to the roster from Triple-A Louisville earlier in the day, gave up two runs, one earned, on two hits over 6 1-3 innings. He struck out five and did not walk a batter. He was making his first appearance since July 19.
St. Louis starter Miles Mikolas gave up three runs on four hits over six innings. He struck out five, did not walk a batter and retired the last 10 hitters he faced.
Suarez broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run shot in the third, his 40th homer of the season. He has a major-league leading 20 homers since the All-Star break.
“It made me feel so happy, so proud of myself,” Suarez said.
Bader cut the deficit to 3-2 with a run-scoring single in the seventh. Paul DeJong’s sacrifice fly tied the game in the eighth.
Joey Votto added a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the third for the Reds.
The Cardinals are playing back-to-back doubleheaders for the first time since Aug. 20-21, 1998 at the New York Mets. St. Louis won both games on Saturday. Cincinnati is playing back-to-back doubleheaders for the first time since Sept 10-11, 1968.
Cincinnati INF Freddy Galvis drew the ire of Mikolas after Galvis jogged over the pitcher’s mound after flying out to center in the fourth inning. Mikolas appeared to yell at Galvis. Players from both dugouts came on the field and words were exchanged, but no punches were thrown. Molina served as peacemaker.
“I asked him politely to use the grass,” Mikolas said. “To not use that avenue again.”
Bader robbed Galvis of an extra-base hit with a diving catch in the second inning. Bader made a fully extended leap into the gap in right-center.
Cardinals: C Matt Wieters suffered a calf injury on Saturday. He is listed as day-to-day. C Joe Hudson was added to the roster from Triple-A Memphis.
Reds: RHP Anthony DeSclafani (9-7, 4.05) will face Philadelphia LHP Drew Smyly (2-6, 6.95) on Monday in the first of a four-game series in Cincinnati. DeSclafani has given up two earned in his last 18 innings over three starts.
Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (9-9, 4.52) will face San Francisco RHP Tyler Beede (3-8, 5.56) in the first of a four-game set against the Giants in St. Louis. Wainwright is 6-7 with a 3.31 ERA in 16 career appearances against San Francisco