Reds adapt to early start time, edge Cardinals

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto hits an RBI single off St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Mike Leake during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, in Cincinnati. The Reds won 3-2. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto hits an RBI single off St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Mike Leake during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, in Cincinnati. The Reds won 3-2. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

Maybe Friday’s earlier-than-normal first pitch messed with some players’ minds.

Two players were guilty of questionable baserunning. Joey Votto seemed to forget there was a runner on first base behind him. Scooter Gennett lost track of the number of outs.

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Heck, even the official scorer was confused, awarding Gennett a hit on a fielder’s-choice grounder – a decision he quickly adjusted.

The Reds were able to get their heads straight enough to ride Votto’s two hits and two runs batted in to a 3-2 win over the Cardinals, Cincinnati’s fourth win in the last five games and fifth in five games this season at Great American Ball Park over the St. Louis.

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The game started at 6:40 p.m., a half-hour earlier than normal to leave time for a postgame concert by rap artist Flo Rida.

Billy Hamilton snapped a 1-1 tie with a fifth-inning single and Jesse Winker and Votto each followed with singles for a 3-1 lead.

Tucker Barnhart was thrown out at the plate on Hamilton’s single, a play that was reviewed for two reasons. Reds manager Bryan Price thought it might’ve violated Major League Baseball’s home plate collision rule. It also wasn’t clear whether Barnhart’s foot touched the plate before the tag. A two-minute, 37-second review confirmed the out call and no collision rule violation.

Right-hander Asher Wojciechowski (2-1), making his first start filling Tim Adleman’s slot in the starting rotation, allowed three hits and one run with a walk, five strikeouts and a hit batter in five innings. In one of his previous four starts, Wojciechowski pitched six innings of eight-hit, two-run ball while receiving no-decision in a 4-2 Reds win over St. Louis on June 5.

“He really pounds the zone with a nice three-pitch mix and he’s just been throwing the ball well,” manager Bryan Price said before the game about his decision to move Wojciechowski from the bullpen. “He’s earned his way into the rotation.”

The Reds lost another review in the eighth, costing left fielder Adam Duvall an assist and keeping alive a rally that led to Michael Lorenzen allowing at least one run in a career-high fifth consecutive appearance. The right-hander regrouped to strike out Randal Grichuk looking with the bases loaded.

Raisel Iglesias pitched the ninth for his 19th save in 20 chances.

Before the game, the Reds played a video tribute and had a moment of silence to honor the memory of first baseman Lee “The Big Bopper” May, who played for Cincinnati from 1965 through 1971 and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player in his final season before being part of the three-player package sent to Houston in exchange for Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo, Jack Billingham, Denis Menke and Ed Armbrister. May passed away at the age of 74 on Saturday.

Cincinnati reached former Reds right-hander Mike Leake for three hits and a run in the first inning. Winker singled to center with one out and ran through third base coach Billy Hatcher’s stop sign to score with a sprawling headfirst slide on Votto’s double into the right field corner. The relay to catcher Carson Kelly was off-target and high, allowing Winker to get away with his gamble.

Leake (7-10), Cincinnati’s 2009 No. 1 draft pick, went into the game 0-4 with a 4.79 earned-run average over seven career starts against his former team. He lasted six innings on Friday, allowing eight hits and three runs with three strikeouts.

The Cardinals tied the score in the third on Greg Garcia’s leadoff triple, which bounced high off the top of the right field wall, and Leake’s grounder to shortstop Jose Peraza, which the official scorer called a hit after Peraza fielded the ball cleanly and thought about trying to get Garcia at home before throwing to first too late to get Leake.

Hamilton logged his league-leading 10th outfield of the season by throwing Leake out at second as the pitcher tried to tag up on Matt Carpenter’s fly ball. After applying the tag for the inning’s second out, second baseman Scooter Gennett started trotting off the field as if there were three outs.

Hamilton, MLB’s stolen base leader with 44 going into the game, was thrown out trying to steal second in the seventh after misreading left-handed pitcher Zach Duke’s move.

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