CINCINNATI (AP) — Josh VanMeter’s attempt to move the runner cleared the bases.
Yasiel Puig hit a game-tying double to end Miles Mikolas’ shutout bid, VanMeter followed with his first major league home run and the Cincinnati Reds snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.
“Man on second nobody out — honestly, I was just trying to move the runner,” VanMeter said. “I got a pitch elevated and hit it out of the park, and did it feel good. It is a weight off my shoulders.
“The other cool part of it is, I knew I got it. Usually, I don’t show emotion. Emotions kind of took over. It was a lot of fun, a dream come true. You hit so many in Triple A, then you come up here and don’t hit one in 49 at-bats. You wonder if you’re ever going to hit one.”
VanMeter and Eugenio Suarez each had two hits for the Reds, who are in last place in the NL Central, a season-high nine games behind first-place Chicago.
“It was a good game,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said “They pitched well. We pitched well. They came out on top.
Mikolas hadn’t allowed a runner past first base before Suarez led off the seventh with a walk and scored from first on a double into the left-center field gap by Puig. Two pitches later, VanMeter homered into the Cincinnati bullpen down the right field line.
“We are really happy for Josh VanMeter,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It was a big home run, obviously. He can hit. He has a good approach at the plate. He takes good at-bats. His demeanor is calm. He’s competitive, but he is also very steady. It shows up in good at-bats.”
“You never want to start an inning walking a guy,” Mikolas said. “There were a couple of close pitches.”
Mikolas (6-10) allowed six hits and three runs with two walks and four strikeouts. He also hit a batter.
Amir Garrett (4-1) pitched a perfect seventh in his first appearance since July 2 after coming off the disabled list on Saturday.
Matt Wieters led off the sixth with his seventh homer of the season for the Cardinals, who had won three straight and six of seven to move into second place in the division. Harrison Bader scored from third on Jose Martinez’s groundout against Michael Lorenzen in the eighth.
Lorenzen stayed in the game and earned his sixth save.
One day after St. Louis overpowered Cincinnati in a 12-11, nine-inning slugfest that lasted 11 minutes shy of four hours, Mikolas and All-Star Luis Castillo hooked up in a pitcher’s duel through six innings that ended in a crisp 2 hours, 36 minutes.
The teams turned a combined five double plays through the first five innings while moving just one runner into scoring position.
Castillo left for a pinch-hitter after six innings. He limited St. Louis to five hits and one run with a walk and five strikeouts.
After watching their relievers pile up 15 innings over the last three games, the Cardinals recalled RHP Ryan Helsley from Triple-A Memphis and optioned INF Edmundo Sosa to Memphis before Saturday’s game. Helsley has pitched in seven St. Louis games this season.
The Reds activated RHP Raisel Iglesias from the three-day paternity list and LHP Amir Garrett from the 10-day injured list before Saturday’s game. RHP Jimmy Herget and Matt Bowman were optioned to Triple-A Louisville.
Reds SS Jose Iglesias sprinted a long way into short left field near the line to make a lunging backhand grab with his back to the infield of Tommy Edman’s popup with nobody out and Mikolas on second in the sixth.
One out into the sixth inning, Mikolas plunked pinch-hitter Derek Dietrich in the right knee with a pitch, the major league-leading 22nd time Dietrich has been by a pitch this season.
Reds: The Reds hope RHP Tyler Mahle can make his next start on Wednesday at Milwaukee after his hamstring tightened on his last pitch Saturday.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (4-6) allowed four hits in seven scoreless innings of St. Louis’s 5-2 win on April 28 at Busch Stadium.
Reds: RHP Anthony DeSclafani (5-4) is 3-1 with a 3.32 earned-run average over his last seven starts.
More AP baseball coverage: www.apnews.com/MLB and www.twitter.com/AP_Sports