CINCINNATI — Billy Hamilton was very matter-of-fact about his latest impressive play, one that turned the game when it was still close.
Hamilton robbed the Cardinals of a potential two-run hit in the fourth inning, and the Cincinnati Reds pulled away to a 9-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.
Zack Cozart hit a pair of doubles during run-scoring innings that included St. Louis misplays, and Hamilton’s catch-and-throw wiped out a Cardinals rally in the early going.
“It’s my job to catch the ball,” Hamilton said. “If a great catch happens, it happens. I don’t go out there to make great catches.”
With runners on first and second, Hamilton caught up with Alberto 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.
“Garcia made a good, aggressive move,” Cardinals manager Mike 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.”
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.
“I didn’t know I had (walked) that many until I came in here,” Straily said. “It’s baseball. It’s one of those bizarre lines you see every once in a while.”
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.
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.
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.
Right fielder Stephen Piscotty lost track of Tyler Holt’s fly ball 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 Rosario’s passed ball let in a run for a 2-1 lead.
Hamilton ran into umpire Angel Hernandez as he rounded first base and thought about trying for second on an errant throw in the seven 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.
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.
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.
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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