The stupendous season of Eugenio Suarez hit another high note, a high-A sharp in this case, Sunday afternoon in Busch Stadium III.
Suarez launched a rocket’s red glare two-run home run in the 10th inning, breaking a tie and sending the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
The home run came off Cardinals closer Bud Norris, who hadn’t given up a home run since July 21. Guess who hit that one? Yep, Eugenio Suarez.
The home run was Suarez’s 31st and gave him 100 RBI, tying him with Chicago’s Javier Baez for the National League lead.
The victory gave the Reds a 2-1 series decision after the Cardinals had won 10 straight series. The last team to take a series from them? Yep, the Reds in that same series in which Suarez homered off Norris.
And the Reds 10th-inning uprising came after a stunning bottom of the ninth when the score was 3-3. Relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen’s nickname is The Zen Master, but they might change that to Mandrake the Magician.
The Cardinals filled the bases with no outs, needing only to score the runner from third to end the game with a victory.
But Lorenzen struck out Jose Martinez, who was swinging at anything inside the St. Louis area code. Marcell Ozuna grounded to second and Scooter Gennett threw home for a force out. Paul DeJong then popped to Gennett in shallow right field and The Great Escape II was in the books.
Norris walked Joey Votto on a 3-2 pitch to open the 10th. Scooter Gennett fouled out to third base on a 2-0 count. But Suarez unloaded to make it 5-3. Brandon Dixon followed Suarez with a home run, both homers landing in the Reds’ left field bullpen, to make it 6-3. The Cardinals scored a run off Raisel Iglesias in the bottom of the 10th and had two on with two outs before Francisco Pena flied to the warning track in right field to end it.
Before Pena’s fly ball, Riggleman had Iglesias walk Matt Carpener intentionally, putting the potential tying run on base. But who would any team rather face with the game on the line, Carpenter or a young, seldom-used catcher named Francisco Pena? It worked.
Along the way the Reds might have discovered a pitcher. Starter Anthony DeSclafani labored through 3 2/3 innings. He gave up only two runs, but the Cardinals had five hits and DeSclafani walked two.
The Reds scored two runs in the first inning off starter Luke Weaver, but the Cardinals scored two in the fourth. With two on and two outs Wandy Peralta came on in place of DeSclafani to retire Matt Carpenter on a ground ball to first base.
Reds manager Jim Riggleman then brought in Lucas Sims, just called up from Class AAA Louisville after he was part of the Adam Duvall trade to Atlanta.
Sims is the 32nd different pitcher to take the mound for the Reds this season, tying a franchise record.
He pitched a 1-2-3 fifth and a 1-2-3 sixth with two strikeouts. When he walked the leadoff batter in the seventh, Jared Hughes took over.
Billy Hamilton opened the game with a hustle double on a bloop to center field, Votto walked and Gennett singled to make it 1-0. The second run scored on a wild pitch.
But the big inning evaporated when Mason Williams hit into an inning-ending double play.
Weaver gave up a leadoff double to Curt Casali in the second and walked two, filling the bases, but the Reds didn’t score.
Weaver pitched four innings and gave up three hits, five walks and hit a batter, but the Reds scored only those two runs,
Hamilton’s legs again propelled him to a hustle double that again led to a run, this time when he hit a routine base hit to right field to open the seventh. But he never stopped and went head-first into second base for a double. He moved to third on Jose Peraza’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Votto’s sacrifice fly and the Reds led, 3-2.
One of baseball’s many tenets is: “Don’t issue walks to an inning’s first batter.” More often than not, that runner scores.
Well, Reds pitchers walked the leadoff batter in the first, second and seventh and the Cardinals didn’t score. It didn’t work in the eighth. Hughes walked Yadier Molina and Jose Martinez singled. The runners moved up to third and second on a ground ball to first.
DeJong was walked intentionally to fill the bases and Harrison Bader beat an infield hit to shortstop and the runner from third scored to tie it, 3-3.
That set up the ninth inning and Lorenzen’s Immaculate Deception. Pinch-hitter Yairo Munoz doubled and Carpenter was intentionally walked. Pena put down a sacrifice bunt and the Reds let it roll, hoping it would go foul. It stayed fair and the bases were loaded with no outs.
Lorenzen put the Cardinals down like a lame racehorse, enabling Suarez to do his thing in the 10th.