Rookie Hamilton sparks Reds past Cardinals
CINCINNATI (AP) – Speedy Billy Hamilton got his first major league steal Tuesday night and came around on Todd Frazier’s double in the seventh inning, sending the Cincinnati Reds to a 1-0 victory, their second straight over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Hamilton set a professional record by swiping 155 bases in the minors last year. He got an ovation when he made his big league debut as a pinch runner for Ryan Ludwick, who led off the seventh with a single against Seth Maness (5-2).
After Maness threw to first three times, Hamilton took off and beat catcher Yadier Molina’s off-target throw. He scored easily on Frazier’s hit and got congratulatory slaps in the dugout.
Homer Bailey (10-10) allowed only two hits in seven innings, retiring his last 14 batters. Aroldis Chapman threw four pitches that registered 103 mph while fanning the heart of the Cardinals’ order in the ninth for his 34th save in 39 chances, completing the two-hitter.
The Cardinals were shut out for the third time in their last six games.
By taking the first two in the four-game series, the Reds snapped the Cardinals’ streak of winning seven straight series between the NL Central rivals. St. Louis is 10-7 against Cincinnati this season.
The head-to-head opportunities are dwindling. Second-place St. Louis is a game and a half ahead of Cincinnati. The Cardinals host the division-leading Pirates for three games next weekend, completing their season series. The Reds play Pittsburgh six times in their last nine games.
The trio has been in a tight pack atop the division most of the season. Currently, all three are in position to make the playoffs.
And now, the Reds have a new way to win a close game.
They considered calling up the 22-year-old Hamilton last September, but decided he wasn’t ready. A year later, he made good on his first steal attempt and decided a game full of tough pitching and sensational defense.
Michael Wacha, the Cardinals’ top draft pick last year out of Texas A&M, made his fifth career start and blanked the Reds on three hits through six innings.
The Cardinals’ lineup was back to full strength. Carlos Beltran was back in right field after missing two games with a sore back. Molina was back in the lineup after leaving Monday’s game with a sore left wrist.
Bailey is in a good stretch, winning his last five decisions. He held the Cardinals to five hits over 7 1-3 innings during a 10-0 win in St. Louis last Wednesday.
Bailey escaped an early threat. Matt Carpenter opened the game with a single, and Bailey walked Beltran on four pitches, bringing up Matt Holliday. The left fielder has a .375 career average against Bailey, but struck out swinging. Allen Craig grounded into a double play.
Defense had a lot to do with keeping this one close. No surprise there — St. Louis has the fewest errors in the NL, Cincinnati the third-fewest.