McCoy: Pujols hits home run No. 698, Cards rally to top Reds

Justin Dunn, who went on the injured list Thursday with right shoulder tightness, was scheduled to start Friday night’s game in Busch Stadium III.

That meant Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell was forced to use a bullpen pitching day.

And with the bullpen’s awful reputation, that should have had the St. Louis Cardinals licking their chops. Instead they were licking their wounds … for five innings.

Opener Fernando Cruz, Reiver Sanmartin, Derek Law and Raynel Espinal held the Cardinals to one hit for 4 2/3 innings.

Then Espinal and Ian Gibaut gave up five runs in the sixth and seventh and the Cardinals scored a 6-5 victory.

The Reds constructed a 4-1 lead through the fifth. Then Albert Pujols happened. His 698th career home run tied the game

Kyle Farmer countered with a home run leading off the seventh that lifted the Reds to a 5-4 lead, but St. Louis scored two in the seventh to end the scoring.

It was Cincinnati’s seventh loss in eight games and the Cardinals fourth win in eight games.

Things started on the uptick for the Reds when Cruz struck out the side in the first inning.

Cruz, Sanmartin, Law and Espinal held the Cardinals to one hit  over 4 2/3 innings.

Then came the sixth inning and the Cardinals’ three superstars went to work against Espinal.

Paul Goldschmidt opened with a double on the first pitch and Nolan Arrenado singled on the first pitch to cut the lead to 4-2.

Pujols picked on a hanging slider and launched it 427 feet deep into the left-field seats, tying the game, 4-4. Espinal is the 453rd different pitcher to give up a home run to Pujols.

The crowd of 44,119 demanded a curtain call and Pujols obliged, waving his batting helmet. And the crowd was still buzzing when Farmer greeted relief pitcher JoJo Romero with his leadoff home run in the seventh to give the Reds a 5-4 lead.

The Cardinals struck back quickly in their seventh and it was leading MVP candidate Goldschmidt coming through again.

Gibaut began the inning by walking Brendan Donovan and paid a stiff price. With one out, Goldschmidt fouled off two 3-and-2 pitches then roped a double to left field and Donovan scored from first base, tying it, 5-5. It was Goldschmidt’s 107th RBI.

And Arrenado struck again. He doubled home Goldschmidt when left fielder T.J. Friedl couldn’t snag Arrenado’s high fly after a long run. And it was 6-5.

With two outs, Pujols again brought the crowd to its feet against Dauri Moreta. He lifted one to deep left that Friedl caught at the 375-feet sign in front of the Reds bullpen.

The Reds took a 1-0 in the third on a rare throwing error by third baseman Arenado. And the Reds had the bases loaded with one out but scored only one run. Jake Fraley hit into a double play to end the inning.

St. Louis tied it, 1-1, in the same manner in their third, a throwing error by second baseman Jonathan India, his ninth throwing error this season.

The Reds scored three in the fifth. Austin Romine and Friedl opened with singles against St. Louis starter Jack Flaherty. With one out, Farmer was hit by a pitch to fill the bases.

Fraley picked on the first pitch and doubled home two runs and Aristides Aquino singled for the third run of the inning and a 4-1 lead, a lead the bullpen couldn’t hold.

St. Louis closer Ryan Helsley locked it down emphatically. He has nine wins, 18 saves and a 1.21 earned run average. He ended the game by striking out the side — Farmer, Fraley and Donovan Solano.

Bell had to use seven pitchers, not something he wanted to do with a doubleheader scheduled against the Cardinals Saturday.

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