Hamilton reaches career high in stolen bases; Reds roll past Cards

Alberto Rosario might have seen Billy Hamilton in his nightmares on Saturday night.

The St. Louis backup catcher certainly saw more than he wanted to of the speedy Reds center fielder on the Great American Ball Park field earlier in the day.

Rosario watched Hamilton turn a possible two-run double into an inning-ending double play, then was credited with a bases-loaded passed ball that allowed Hamilton to score the go-ahead run from third in what eventually turned into a 9-1 Reds romp.

“I really don’t know if I’m in his head or not,” said Hamilton, who reached base on each of his last three trips to the plate and set a single -season career high with his 58th stolen base – with, of course, Rosario still behind the plate. “He told me, ‘Great play.’”

Ramon Cabrera added a pinch-hit, two-run double with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, helping the Reds win consecutive games for the first time since completing their season-high, five-game winning streak on Aug. 20.

Reds right-hander Dan Straily, who tied career highs by allowing seven runs and four home runs in his last start on Monday against the Angels in Anaheim, set a career high by allowing seven walks in 5 2/3 innings, but he limited St. Louis to one runs on three hits with five strikeouts. Straily (11-7) improved to 7-1 in 10 starts since the All-Star break.

“I didn’t know I had that many until I came back in here,” Straily said. “I knew I walked a few, but I didn’t know it was seven. I had no clue. I guess you could say they were timely walks. The last time, I gave up seven runs and had one walk.”

The right-hander walked the bases loaded with two outs in the sixth before Blake Wood came in and got – who else? – Rosario to ground out on the first pitch.

The teams combined to issue 17 walks, nine by the Cardinals, including four by Jerome Williams while the Reds were sending 10 batters to the plate in a five-run eighth inning.

Manager Bryan Price considered Cabrera’s hit the key to the win.

“That had to be the biggest hit of the evening,” he said. “Then we had the add-on runs in the eighth that gave us some breathing room. Another big moment was Wood coming in and getting the first pitch out. The game was still teetering in the balance.”

Jedd Gyorko gave St. Louis a quick 1-0 lead with his 25th homer of the season, a skyscraping shot on the first pitch he saw from Straily as the Cardinals’ second batter in the first inning.

Tyler Holt, playing right field while Scott Schebler got the day off, led off the third with a ground-rule double into the right field corner that seemed catchable by Stephen Piscotty but, instead, got over his head and bounced into the stands. Straily extended his stretch of career hitless at bats to 44 by bunting foul with two strikes, but after Hamilton lined out to center field, Zack Cozart doubled into the left field corner to tie the score, 1-1.

Hamilton helped stymie a Cardinals’ fourth-inning rally, tracking down Rosario’s drive to the center field warning track and quickly getting the ball to second baseman Jose Peraza, who was able to easily catch Greg Garcia off of first base for an inning-ending double play.

Hamilton started the go-ahead rally in the sixth inning with a single to left and went to third on Cozart’s second double, setting up the tie-breaking passed ball.

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