McCoy: Davidson’s pinch-hit slam, stellar bullpen work sends Reds past Cardinals, 4-2

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Cincinnati Reds ripped a page out of the San Diego Padres playbook Friday night in Busch Stadium.

The Padres set a major league record this week by hitting grand slam home runs in four straight games.

For the Reds, it is only one ... but a huge grand slam hit by pinch-hitter Matt Davidson that lifted the Reds to a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was one of only two hits mustered all night by the Reds.

And closer Raisel Iglesias redeemed himself from Thursday night’s game-blowing disaster by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth for a save.

The Reds trailed 2-0 in the sixth inning and had only one hit. And they filled the bases without a hit — two errors on one play, a walk and a hit batsman.

Manager David Bell sent up Davidson to bat for Josh VanMeter. Strangely, St. Louis manager Mike Shildt brought in left handed pitcher Ty Webb to face the right handed Davidson.

Davidson, who hadn’t played in 10 days, worked the count to 2-and-0 then launched one that nearly knocked down the Gateway Arch on the banks of the Mississippi River. That turned a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 lead.

St. Louis started right hander Dakota Hudson and he had the Reds needing shovels to dig pitches that were diving into the dirt.

Through 4 2/3 innings Hudson gave up no runs and one hit, with two walks and six strikeouts.

After he struck out Tucker Barnhart with two outs and nobody on in the fifth, Shildt came to get him after 74 pitches.

With the Cardinals leading, 2-0, Hudson was one out away from qualifying for a win.

And the Reds took big advantage of it against relief pitchers Genesis Cabrera and Webb in the sixth inning.

The inning began with a deep fly to center by Eugenio Suarez and Harrison Bader dropped it for an error. He added a second error when he threw the ball wildly, enabling Suarez to take third.

Cabrera then walked Mike Moustakas and hit pinch-hitter Phillip Ervin to fill ‘em up.

Davidson then propelled his home run 449 feet where Mark McGwire’s homers used to land. It reverberated off Davidson’s bat at 113 miles an hour, hardest hit ball by a Reds batter this season.

He has hit home runs in three of his last four appearances, as few and as far between as those appearances have been.

“What he did is so difficult to do,” said Bell. “That’s one of the hardest things to do is to pinch-hit after not getting any at bats for however long it has been (10 days), so few and far between. To his credit, he stayed ready.”

Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani was not hit hard at all, but squirmed and struggled with command.

He gave up a run in the third without a ball leaving the infield. He gave up a walk, a bunt single against the shift by Kolten Wong, a hit by a pitch and a walk with the bases loaded.

The Cardinals scored their second run in the fifth without a hit. DeSclafani walked two and relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen issued a walk to fill the bases with one out.

A run scored on a ground ball out and Lorenzen finished the inning by inducing a weak popup from Tyler O’Neill.

And the Reds bullpen was magical, 4 2/3 innings of runless, hitless innings by Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, Tyler Thornburg and Iglesias.

Lorenzen pitched 1 2/3 innings and gave up no runs, no hits, walked one and struck out two. Thornburg pitched a 1-2-3 seventh. Garrett pitched a 1-2-3 eighth with two strikeouts.

It was decision time for Bell. Does he bring in closer Raisel Iglesias for the ninth?

In the same situation Thursday night, a 4-2 Reds lead, Iglesias gave it up, a 5-4 defeat during which Iglesias threw 22 pitches.

Bell tempted fate by bringing Iglesias in to pitch the ninth and this time Iglesias didn’t fall off the saddle.

He struck out Dexter Fowler, retired Yadier Molina on a foul fly into the right field corner and retired pinch-hitter Dylan Carlson on a tapper to the mound.

It was an effortless nine-pitch, eight-strike bounceback and a mammoth confidence booster for the much-troubled Iglesias.

Bell said he had no hesitation in placing Iglesias back into the same situation as his meltdown.

“Same exact situation and we put him right back in there,” said Bell. “It is a great honor to put him in there after he works so hard and cares so much. We put him right back in there because we absolutely believe in him. And it worked out beause he was really good tonight.”

The last time the Reds won a game with only two hits was also against the Cardinals, also with Anthony DeSclafani on the mound. It was 2015 and Jay Bruce homered for a 1-0 victory.

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