By Kevin Kelly
Enquirer staff writer
The bill of Josh Hancock's hat dripped sweat like water from a leaky faucet. And that was by the third inning of Tuesday's start against the Cardinals.
"They were waiting for their pitches," the Reds pitcher said, "and I was just throwing everything but the kitchen sink."
St. Louis made Hancock work for his outs, and for a second quality start in a week against the National League's most successful team.
Jason LaRue looks back to the field after catching a fly ball off the bat of St. Louis' Albert Pujols in the 3rd inning.
(Enquirer photo/JEFF SWINGER)
Though Hancock did not figure in the decision, his performance in a 4-3 Reds win in 10 innings did.
"Facing the same team in back-to-back starts, especially a team the caliber of the Cardinals, I think 'impressive' is the word to use," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "He scattered some hits and pitched out of some jams."
St. Louis stranded seven runners and was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position while Hancock was on the mound at Great American Ball Park.
The right-hander left after the sixth inning with the Reds leading 3-2, an advantage lost when St. Louis tied the game the following inning.
Reds right fielder Darren Bragg won the game with his RBI single off Cardinals reliever Julian Tavarez in the 10th inning before 20,163 fans.
The hit scored Juan Castro from second base. Castro slid headfirst into home to beat Larry Walker's throw from right field.
"It just happened to be my slot tonight," said Bragg, who was 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position before Tuesday. "I got up there with guys in scoring position late in the game.
"But it was our pitching that kept us in it. Every guy, from the starter to all the relievers, did a great job. That's how you win ballgames. Keep the games close and let someone be a hero."
Hancock's outing - two runs on eight hits over six innings - continued a nice run for the reshaped Cincinnati rotation.
Reds starters are 3-2 with a 2.00 ERA and four quality starts in the past six games.
Acquired from the Phillies in the Todd Jones trade last month, Hancock has done well since moving to the starting rotation earlier this month.
He is 1-0 with a 3.78 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, and was coming off a winning 6 2/3-inning effort against the Cardinals on Aug. 18.
"They didn't adjust that much," Hancock said. "And I didn't adjust that much either."
TheCardinals forced Hancock into throwing 63 pitches for his first nine outs.
A solo home run by outfielder Reggie Sanders gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead in the top of the second.
The Reds tied the game in their half of the inning with a solo homer by second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez.
Two singles to lead off the third inning put Hancock in danger with nobody out and three of the NL's most potent batters coming up.
"I had to bear down," Hancock said. "I had two guys on."
Hancock got Albert Pujols to pop up behind home plate for the first out, struck out third baseman Scott Rolen with a curveball and struck out center fielder Jim Edmonds with a high 91 mph fastball to end the inning.
"That's the time you've got to bear down and make your pitches," Hancock said. "Luckily enough, I was able to come out of it unscathed."
Cincinnati's bullpen had been equally reliable as its starters in its previous three games.
But the Cardinals tied the game at three after Reds reliever Phil Norton allowed a leadoff walk to Tony Womack in the seventh inning. The next batter, Walker, doubled home Womack.
Ryan Wagner replaced Norton and pitched the Reds out of that inning and the next without further damage. Gabe White and Joe Valentine combined for a scoreless ninth inning. Valentine also worked a scoreless 10th for his first win.
Cincinnati had a pair of scoring chances in the seventh (bases loaded) and ninth (two on) innings but failed to score both times.
Tuesday marked the start of the final series between the teams this season.
With the win, the Reds are 4-13 against the Cardinals with two games remaining.
"They tied it up on us," Hancock said, "but we were able to hold it there just long enough for us to score a run."
|Vander Wal ph||1||0||0||0||0||0||.150|
E-Rolen (8). LOB-St. Louis 11, Cincinnati 13. 2B-LWalker (12), Pujols (36), LaRue (18). HR-Edmonds (32), off Hancock; DJimenez (9), off Marquis; RSanders (19), off Hancock. RBIs-LWalker (36), Edmonds (86), RSanders (55), Casey (81), DJimenez (48), LaRue (42), Bragg (4). SB-Freel (26). S-Larkin, LaRue. GIDP-LWalker, Dunn.
Runners left in scoring position-St. Louis 5 (Rolen, Edmonds 2, Renteria, Marquis); Cincinnati 5 (Freel, DJimenez 4).
Runners moved up-YMolina, Casey.
DP-St. Louis 1 (Womack, Renteria and Pujols); Cincinnati 1 (Casey, Larkin and Casey).
|Tavarez L, 5-4||1/3||2||1||1||1||0||12||2.65|
PNorton pitched to 2 batters in the 7th.
|PNorton BS, 2||0||1||1||1||1||0||7||4.50|
|Valentine W, 1-1||1 1/3||0||0||0||2||0||17||7.71|
Inherited runners-scored-King 1-0, RWagner 1-0.
HBP-by Eldred (LaRue), by RWagner (Rolen), by Hancock (RSanders), by Marquis (Freel).
T-3:24. A-20,163 (42,271).
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