An afternoon contest at Busch Stadium led to even more lineup shifts than usual, but all proved out in the end as the Cards topped Cincinnati 5-3 to claim the three-game series win. With the win, the Cards again moved two games ahead of the Reds in the National League Central race.
In his third start for the Cards (14-10), Kyung Hyun Kim threw five long innings, laboring through 82 pitches, eight baserunners but only two runs to score the win. Ryan Helsey followed two Cards relievers and notched his fifth save with no angst at all.
Kolten Wong propelled the win with a couple of hits and two RBIs, but the surprise contributor was the young shortstop Edmundo Sosa, who gave Brad Miller a spell on the bench. That is, until Miller gained a pinch hitting opportunity and an insurance tally late in the game.
Wade Miley took the loss for the Reds, though truth be told, he was pretty good. He lasted an inning longer than Kim, and while he surrendered four of the five Cards tallies, one was unearned. Miley therefore received the Quality Start designation, mostly useless other than for savvy agents and lawyers in arbitration hearings and free agency negotiations.
The Cards offense spotted Kim a lead in the second inning. With two out and Dylan Carlson on first as a result of a walk, Wong scorched a liner into the right-field corner, a rather impressive accomplishment in the lefty-on-lefty battle with Miley. Carlson would have most likely had to stop at third but for a billiards-like carom off two walls that enabled Carlson to speed through third and never slow.
In the fourth, Wong made it far less complicated. With Tommy Edman on third and Tyler O'Neill on second and two outs, Wong displayed his opposite-field patience with a slap single to left. Only Edman was able to score.
Enter Sosa. Batting eighth, he stunned both Wiley and third baseman Mike Moustakas with a perfect bunt down the third base line. There was no chance to catch either O'Neill at home or Sosa at first.
Meanwhile, Kim dodged any major catastrophes in the first four innings, scattering four baserunners on a couple hits and the same number of walks. But when he entered the fifth with a three-run lead, all seemed to disintegrate, and fast.
Catcher Curt Casali walked. Miley advanced him with a bunt. Shogo Akiyama walked. Votto singled in Casali. Freddy Galvis singled in Akiyama. All of a sudden, a 3-2 game, and fortunately, Kim induced an inning-ending double play off the bat of Jesse Winker.
That was it for the Reds offense. The Cards added a tally in Miley's last inning, the seventh, when after an Edman double, he advanced on a ground out and scored on a Carlson two-hopper to shortstop that Galvis bounced, it eluded Votto and Edman scored the unearned run.
Miller's glory came in the eighth, when pinch hitting for reliever John Brebbia, he took a Lucas Sims fastball 395 feet to the left-field stands.
Next Up and Notes: The Cards begin a three-game series at Busch Friday against the Miami Marlins. It looks like for now, the rotation has solidified, at least til Miles Mikolas returns. Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, Carlos Martinez (Friday's starter), Adam Wainwright and Kim will garner most of the starts for the next few turns, absent injury.
"We were glad to give Austin (Gomber) and Ponce (Daniel Poncedeleon) shots at the rotation early on," said manager Mike Shildt. "They're important to us. But with Waino seeming right and Kim having all that major league experience in Korea, we feel pretty comfortable with this group. The others will get their turns down the road." Gomber is likely to head down to Memphis in the near future.