ST. LOUIS — Mike Matheny managed with a playoff intensity. His offense didn’t respond.
“It’s baseball, you’re going to have times when you just don’t get it done,” Matheny said after his St. Louis Cardinals fell 2-1 to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night. “Tonight was one of those times guys make good pitches in big situations and we couldn’t finish it off.”
The Reds’ third win in their last four games dealt a blow to the Cardinals’ playoff hopes.
St. Louis remained one game behind San Francisco for the NL’s second wild card, with the New York Mets 1½ games ahead of the Giants.
The Cardinals had the tying run at third base in three of the game’s final four innings and with less than two outs in the eighth and ninth. St. Louis was 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left eight on.
“It’s not the lack of effort for sure, but nobody wants to hear that,” second baseman Greg Garcia said. “You got to get it done especially in crunch time and that’s where we are in right now. It’s a tough one to swallow.”
The Cardinals had second and third with one out in the eighth and Kolten Wong tripled to lead off the ninth. Each time, Reds closer Raisel Iglesias wriggled out of the jam.
Garcia’s fly ball to left was too shallow to score Wong and was the second out of the ninth.
“I didn’t do my job,” Garcia said. “I let my team down and you can’t do that right now. It’s tough.”
Cardinals starter Mike Leake (9-12) allowed five hits and two runs in five innings, striking out six.
Leake was lifted for pinch-hitter Matt Adams in the fifth and he grounded into a double play that scored Aledmys Diaz for the Cardinals’ lone run.
Matheny brought closer Seung Hwan Oh in with one out in the eighth inning. Oh struck out both batters to get the Cardinals out of a jam after Adam Duvall tripled to lead off the inning.
Oh left the game with two outs in the ninth after reaggravating a groin injury.
Matheny made two double switches and brought Oh in early to maximize the Cardinals’ opportunities.
“They all sting,” Matheny said. “When you have that many chances to score and take over the game, yeah that hurts and there’s no question about it.”
Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani (9-5) allowed one runner in each of the first four innings, but only once during that span did the Cardinals have anyone in scoring position. He stranded five runners, including two in the sixth, his last inning. He allowed six hits and one run.
It was the fifth quality start out of six in DeSclafani’s career against the Cardinals. He improved to 4-1 with a 2.13 ERA against St. Louis.
“I face them more often,” DeSclafani said. “I feel I learn more about them and they learn more about me so it’s a constant adjustment.”
Duvall drove in his 101st and 102nd runs with his third-inning single. He has seven RBIs in the series.
Iglesias earned his fifth save in six opportunities.
“They weren’t going down easy that’s for sure with Wong hitting that triple,” Duvall said. “But Iggy bared down and showed that he had some nasty stuff and was able to come out of it.”
The St. Louis Blues attended the game and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk threw out the first pitch. The Cardinals wore hybrid Blues/Cardinals jerseys during warm-ups.
The Reds claimed IF/OF Patrick Kivlehan off waivers from the San Diego Padres and placed SS Zack Cozart on the 60-day DL list. This is the fourth organization Kivlehan has been a part of this season.
Reds: 2B Brandon Phillips (left hand) and OF Scott Schebler (left hamstring) were scratched from the lineup.
Cardinals: OF Matt Holliday (thumb) is not on a live batting practice schedule.
Reds: RHP Dan Straily (14-8, 3.74 ERA) has made 11 starts in which he allowed three hits or fewer. He is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in three career appearances against St. Louis.
Cardinals: RHP Alex Reyes (4-1, 1.58 ERA) has earned a win in his last three appearances. He is 0-0 with a 2.57 ERA in three career appearances against Cincinnati.