Thanks to some rare power from Ramon Santiago, the Cardinals’ magic number is down to one to clinch the National League Central. Santiago hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 10th inning this afternoon to give the Reds a 10-6 win over the Pirates at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
The game was a thrilling back-and-forth affair. The Reds scored three runs in the first inning off Francisco Liriano before the Pirates chipped away and eventually took the lead in the fifth inning on a two-run single from Neil Walker. The Reds immediately tied things up on an RBI single from Ryan Ludwick, but the Pirates took the lead right back in the seventh with an RBI single from Andrew McCutchen and an RBI triple from Walker. It didn’t last long, as Todd Frazier hit a game-tying two-run homer off John Holdzkom in the bottom-half of the frame. Both bullpens then kept things in check until John Axford issued a leadoff walk to Todd Frazier to begin the bottom of the 10th.
While Axford retired the next batter Devin Mesoraco on a line out to center field, he then allowed a single to Chris Heisey and walked Ryan Ludwick to load the bases. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle turned to Bobby LaFromboise to face pinch-hitter Brayan Pena, who flew out to shallow right field for the second out. However, Santiago followed with the improbable game-winning blast over the left field fence. It was his second career walk-off home run and his first ever grand slam.
With the Pirates now 1 1/2 games back in the National League Central, the Cardinals can clinch the division tonight with a win over the Diamondbacks. If it happens, the Cardinals figure to scratch Adam Wainwright tomorrow while the Pirates will likely hold Gerrit Cole back for Wednesday’s Wild Card game against the Giants.