If they hadn’t gotten so bunt happy on Wednesday, the Reds might have made it a clean sweep. As is, they should be pretty pleased to have taken three out of four from the visiting Cardinals with their 6-2 win on Thursday.
Todd Frazier hit two of the Reds’ four homers in support of Tony Cingrani, who struck out seven in his first start back from the DL. Cingrani allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings while improving to 7-3.
The Reds also got homers from Shin-Soo Choo and Jay Bruce. The only bad news on the night was that Brandon Phillips was lost to a quad contusion, though he might be back on Friday.
The Cardinals’ big concern at the end of the night was the continued struggles of All-Star Lance Lynn. He’s 0-5 in his last six starts, giving up 26 earned runs in 34 innings over the span. Tonight, he surrendered three of the four homers, allowing four runs over five innings in all. He’s now 13-10 with a 4.37 ERA for the season.
Thanks to the Reds, the idle Pirates now have a 1 1/2-game lead in the NL Central at 81-58. The Cards are 80-60, with the Reds three games back at 79-62.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.