CINCINNATI — Instead of starting a final-month surge to the playoffs, the St. Louis Cardinals let one slip away.

The Cardinals escaped bases-loaded threats in the seventh and eighth, but couldn’t do it again in the ninth. Eugenio Suarez’s single up the middle sent the Cincinnati Reds to a 3-2 victory on Friday night.

St. Louis is in position to get the NL’s second wild card behind San Francisco. Instead of moving up, the Cardinals helped the Reds rally and end a four-game losing streak.

Seung Hwan Oh (4-3) walked Zack Cozart on four pitches to open the ninth, putting the potential winning run on base. The closer’s control was off from the start.

“Especially in a tie situation, you don’t want to give the leadoff hitter a walk,” he said through a translator.

Brandon Phillips followed with a single. After Scott Schebler singled one out later to load the bases, Suarez got his first career game-ending hit.

The Reds had loaded the bases the two previous innings, but failed to score as Matt Bowman and Kevin Siegrist escaped the threats to keep it tied at 2.

“We kept getting in trouble,” manager Mike Matheny said. “When you’re going to load the bases in the seventh, eighth and ninth of a tie game, it’s hard to get out of that.”

Raisel Iglesias (1-1) gave up a walk in the ninth.

Yadier Molina and Randal Grichuk connected for an early lead off Anthony DeSclafani, who has been tough against St. Louis during his career. The right-hander is 3-1 in six starts against the Cardinals with a 2.25 ERA.

Molina led the Cardinals with a .347 batting average in August and had 32 hits, his most in any month since May 2015. He connected in the second inning for his sixth homer.

Grichuk led off the fifth inning with his 20th homer, extending his big week. He had a game-tying homer and a game-winning single earlier in the week.

The Reds tied it in the sixth against Alex Reyes, who made his second major league start. Cozart singled, ending his 0-for-17 skid. Phillips followed with a double that ricocheted off third base. Adam Duvall’s sacrifice fly and Schebler’s single made it 2-2.

“I made good pitches,” Reyes said. “It wasn’t that hard of contact. The balls were just well-placed.”

Reyes allowed only six hits, fanned seven and threw 103 pitches. His fastball was clocked at 100 mph in the third inning, and he fanned Billy Hamilton with a 76 mph curveball in the fifth.

DIFFERENT LOOK

The Reds wore their special camouflage jerseys as part of a night honoring the military.

ADAMS BACK

Matt Adams was activated off the disabled list. He’d been sidelined since Aug. 10 with inflammation in his right shoulder, missing 19 games. Adams pinch hit and grounded out in the seventh.

TAKE THREE

Hamilton stole three bases — the first two off Reyes’ move to the plate — leaving him 23 for 25 career in steal attempts against Molina. It’s the most steals by any runner against the eight-time Gold Glove catcher. Hamilton leads the majors with 57 steals.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: RH Mike Leake is expected to rejoin the team in Cincinnati and throw a bullpen session on Sunday. He’s been on the disabled list since Aug. 22 with the shingles.

Reds: Joey Votto was out of the lineup with a stiff neck. Ivan De Jesus Jr. started at first base.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: LH Jaime Garcia (10-10) has allowed at least five runs in three straight starts for the first time in his career.

Reds: RH Dan Straily (10-7) had a career-high six-game winning streak snapped Monday in a 9-2 loss at the Angels. He tied his career high by allowing seven runs and four homers.


Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay