ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Cincinnati Reds bullpen continues to struggle. With and without closer Aroldis Chapman.
The Reds wasted a lead for the fourth game in a row in dropping a 5-4 decision at St. Louis on Tuesday.
Cincinnati built a 4-1 advantage behind a solid effort from starter Alfredo Simon. But relievers Jumbo Diaz and J.J Hoover were unable to hold onto the lead.
The Reds also led 4-2 before losing 6-5 in 10 innings in the series opener on Monday.
Manager Bryan Price is trying to mix and match with a taxed bullpen that is without Chapman, who missed his second consecutive game with a sore shoulder.
“No Chapman makes it harder to dice up those last few innings,” Price said. “We’re vulnerable.”
The Reds used seven relievers in losing a doubleheader at Colorado on Sunday. They blew a 7-3 lead in the opener and a 4-2 lead in the nightcap.
That heavy use, along with Chapman’s absence, has put Price in a quandary.
“It’s not like we have guys in the (farm) system that have lit up the opportunity radar,” he said.
The Reds lost in walk-off fashion for the third time in the last four games on Tuesday.
“We just have to keep looking ahead,” Price said.
Jon Jay was hit by a pitch from J.J. Hoover with the bases-loaded in the ninth inning, lifting the Cardinals to the win.
The walk-off win was the second in as many nights for the Cardinals, who won for the fifth time in six games and remain 2 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central.
Jhonny Peralta’s RBI single in the tenth inning Monday provided St. Louis with a thrilling last at-bat triumph.
Matt Holliday drew a leadoff walk to start Tuesday’s winning rally. He advanced to third on Matt Adams’ single. After Peter Bourjos ran for Holliday, Peralta walked to load the bases. Hoover (1-10) then plunked Jay to force in Bourjos with the winning run.
“It’s not like you hope to get hit by a pitch every time,” Jay said. “But I’ll take it.”
St. Louis recorded its sixth walk-off win of the season. The Cardinals also posted back-to-back walk-off wins July 7-8 against Pittsburgh.
The Reds lost in walk-off fashion for the third time in the last four games. They are a season-high 10 games out of first place.
“(This) isn’t fun,” Cincinnati third baseman Todd Frazier said. “It’s crazy, I’ve never been around something like that. I never want to see it again.”
Jay scored the tying run in the eighth on pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso’s RBI double off reliever Jumbo Diaz.
“Call it whatever you want to call it, but we’re just playing better baseball right now,” Descalso said. “We’ve got down the last couple nights and we’ve come back. That’s always a good sign.”
Reliever Pat Neshek (6-0) picked up the win with a scoreless ninth inning.
Cardinals: INF Mark Ellis was put on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain. Ellis, who is hitting .192 with 12 RBI, last played on Tuesday. INF Greg Garcia was recalled from Triple-A Memphis in time for Tuesday’s contest. Garcia was hitting .273 with 40 RBI in 103 games for the Redbirds.
JAY KEEPS ROLLING
St. Louis OF Jon Jay extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the second, the first of two hits. He is 15 for 31 during the run and reached base four times Tuesday.
Reds: RHP Johnny Cueto (15-6, 2.06) will start the final game of the three-game set. Cueto is 7-0 with a 2.24 ERA over his last eight starts. His seven-game winning streak is a career high.
Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (13-8, 2.91) will make his team-leading 26th start of the season. He is 5-1 lifetime against the Reds