Reds scrap with Cards at plate, tangle in outfield, win 9-6

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CINCINNATI – Nick Castellanos stood over, flexed and jawed at St. Louis pitcher Jake Woodford after scoring, setting off a series of scuffles that included relievers shoving in the outfield as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Cardinals 9-6 Saturday.

St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright was knocked around for six runs and chased in the third. The next inning, the teams started tagging each other.

“Our whole group was in there, fast and furious,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said.

Castellanos, who homered on opening day and hopped out of the box before tossing his bat, was plunked by Woodford with two outs and none on in the fourth. Castellanos retrieved the ball and offered to toss it back to Woodford before flipping it out of play.

A wild pitch soon sent Castellanos scampering home from third and he scored with a headfirst slide for a 7-2 lead as he bumped into Woodford, who took the throw from catcher Yadier Molina at the plate.

Castellanos said it was raw emotion in the moment after he scored and wasn’t trying to incite Woodford, who had put him on base with a fastball to the ribs. Woodford said it wasn’t intentional.

“I’m not out here to disrespect nobody or whatever, but I want to win,” Castellanos said.

Said Shildt: “There is no need to stand over somebody and taunt somebody.”

As Castellanos began walking away, Molina rushed up and tapped him from behind, and the benches and bullpens emptied in a wild scene.

“It’s just him playing hard, being a competitor, and we’ve got his back,” said Tucker Barnhart, whose two-run homer ignited a six-run third for the Reds.

There was more pushing and shoving before order seemed to be restored. But as relief pitchers for both teams were heading back to their bullpens, they tangled in the outfield.

Castellanos was the only player ejected. Aristides Aquino replaced Castellanos and led off the sixth inning with a home run.

Umpire crew chief Jim Reynolds said Castellanos was ejected because after sliding into home, he “re-engaged the pitcher in unnecessary fashion.”

Tyler Mahle (1-0) struck out nine in five innings, allowing two earned runs.

Paul DeJong hit two solo home runs for St. Louis. Nolan Arenado connected for his first home run with the Cardinals.

Wainwright (0-1) lasted only 2 2/3 innings and gave up five earned runs and seven hits.

Back in 2010, the Cardinals and Reds got into a major brawl at Cincinnati. Molina and Brandon Phillips began barking at the plate and eventually Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto got pinned against the backstop and tried to kick his way out.

HE SAID IT

Castellanos said Molina told him Woodford hadn’t thrown at him intentionally. The Reds outfielder said he respects the longtime star Cardinals catcher enough to believe him.

“That guy could have punched me in the face, and I’d still ask him for a signed jersey,” Castellanos said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Harrison Bader (right forearm), RHP Dakota Hudson (elbow), LHP Kwang Hyun Kim (back) and RHP Miles Mikolas (right shoulder) are on the 10-day disabled list.

Reds: CF Nick Senzel didn’t start after hurting his left shoulder making a diving catch in Thursday’s opener. Tyler Naquin started in his place, but Senzel came into the game in the fifth inning as part of a double switch. Manager David Bell said OF Shogo Akiyama (hamstring) and RHP Sonny Gray (back) will soon report to the alternate site in Louisville, Kentucky, to continue their rehab.

UP NEXT

The Cardinals send RHP Carlos Martinez to the mound to face Reds right-hander Jeff Hoffman on Sunday in the finale of the three-game series.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.