CINCINNATI — A misplayed fly ball. A passed ball. Four walks in an inning. The St. Louis Cardinals did a lot of things wrong, and they added up to a third straight loss.

Zack Cozart hit a pair of doubles during run-scoring innings that included St. Louis misplays, and the Cincinnati Reds pulled away to a 9-1 victory on Saturday that left the Cardinals treading water in the playoff chase.

The Cardinals have lost seven of 11. They’re still in position to get the NL’s second wild-card spot, staying ahead of the Mets, Pirates and Marlins, but they’ve wasted plenty of chances to make their playoff path easier.

“We haven’t put together that big inning, haven’t been able to string together hits,” manager Mike Matheny said.

And that’s not all. Their bullpen and defense have let them down, too.

Pinch hitter Ramon Cabrera’s two-run single in the seventh inning put the Reds ahead 4-1. Cincinnati used four walks by Jerome Williams to score five times in the eighth, capped by Tucker Barnhart’s bases-loaded double.

Dan Straily (11-7) gave up three hits, including Jedd Gyorko’s homer, and a career-high seven walks in only 5 2/3 innings. Gyorko hit his career-high 25th home run, 18 since the All-Star break.

The Cardinals have homered in a club-record 22 straight games, hitting a total of 43 in that span. Only San Diego (25 games) has a longer streak this season. The 2002 Rangers set the major league record of 27.

Cincinnati used a couple of Cardinals miscues to squeeze out two runs against Jaime Garcia (10-11). The lefty had allowed at least five runs in each of his last three starts.

“I thought I made good pitches when I needed to,” said Garcia, who gave up six hits in six innings and fanned eight. “They hit some stuff that found holes. But no excuses — today, unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough.”

Right fielder Stephen Piscotty lost track of Tyler Holt’s flyball in the third, letting it fall for a double. Holt scored on Cozart’s two-out double.

Another double by Cozart helped the Reds load the bases in the fifth, and Alberto Rosario’s passed ball on a tailing sinker let in a run for a 2-1 lead.

“There was a lot of movement, but you’ve got to be ready for any situation,” Rosario said through a translator. “I just couldn’t get a hold of it.”

IMPRESSIVE PLAY

Reds CF Billy Hamilton caught up with Rosario’s fly to the warning track, smacked into the wall after making the catch, and threw back to the infield to double up a surprised Greg Garcia at first base to end the fourth inning.

“Garcia made a good, aggressive move,” Matheny said. “If the ball comes off the wall at all, he’s going to score. He (Hamilton) closed a lot of space in a hurry and made a great play.”

AND …

Hamilton ran into umpire Angel Hernandez as he rounded first base and thought about trying for second on an errant throw in the seventh inning. Hamilton went down and had to stay at first for a while. He took second on his 58th steal of the season.

GOLDEN TICKET

Joey Votto used a song from “Willy Wonka” as his walk-up music for his first at-bat. Gene Wilder, who played the part of Wonka, died on Monday.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: RH Mike Leake will fly into Cincinnati on Sunday morning and threw in the bullpen before the final game of the series. Leake has been sidelined since Aug. 22 with the shingles.

Reds: 2B Brandon Phillips was scratched from the lineup with a sore left foot that took a foul ball on Friday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Carlos Martinez (12-7) is 4-1 career against the Reds with a 2.72 ERA, including four starts and 11 relief appearances. The Cardinals are 13-2 when he’s pitched against Cincinnati.

Reds: Tim Adleman (2-2) faces the Cardinals for the first time. He’s 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA in three starts since his promotion on Aug. 16.


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