|St. Louis (69-56) «||0||1||0||1||0||6||0||0||0||8||14||2|
CINCINNATI -- No denying the importance of this one. The Cardinals knew they needed it.
Needed it to start a defining road trip with a step forward. Needed it to close the gap and slow down those Reds in the NL Central. Needed it to keep their own surge going.
With one big inning and a fabulous job by the bullpen, they got it.
Allen Craig and Yadier Molina homered during a six-run sixth inning on Friday night, and the defending World Series champions opened an important trip by beating the Cincinnati Reds 8-5 and moving six games back of the NL Central leaders.
|More on Cardinals-Reds|
|More MLB coverage|
"A really big game for us to start the road trip against our top competitor and get a victory," Craig said.
The Cardinals' big comeback off Mat Latos (10-4) started a 10-day trip against the Reds, Pirates and Nationals. Craig and Molina had three hits apiece as St. Louis piled up 14 in all, pulling away against a starter who has been tough to hit in August and a bullpen that is the NL's best.
"Without question, one of those character wins," manager Mike Matheny said. "It says a lot about this team. We'll have to be that kind of team the rest of the way."
Cincinnati got the better of it early, knocking starter Lance Lynn out of the game in the third inning. Joe Kelly (4-5) fanned six in three innings of relief. Jason Motte pitched the ninth for his 30th save in 35 chances, giving up a pair of singles before fanning Scott Rolen to end it.
St. Louis' bullpen allowed only six hits and fanned 13 over the last seven innings
"We've got a great offense and a great bullpen, and they bailed us out tonight," Lynn said. "That's the fun part of this team."
It's an important weekend for the Reds as well. They're honoring former shortstop and team captain Barry Larkin, who was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame this summer. His No. 11 will be retired by the team before Saturday's game and was stamped in chalk behind second base for the start of the series.
The opener came down to one big inning.
Latos tried to extend his August dominance -- only three earned runs allowed in his four previous starts. He suffered a meltdown in the sixth inning, when he gave up four runs without retiring a batter.
"I went from having good command of my fastball to not," Latos said.
The inning started poorly for Latos, who was slow to cover first base on Carlos Beltran's grounder, letting him reach on an infield single. Matt Holliday singled, and Craig followed with his 19th homer, trying it 5-all. Three pitches later, Molina hit an opposite-field homer -- his fourth off the Reds this season.
Latos left after facing five batters in the inning without getting an out. St. Louis completed its six-run rally off Alfredo Simon, matching the biggest inning against the Reds this season.
The Cardinals are in a familiar spot when it comes to making up ground. Last year, they trailed Atlanta for the NL wild card by 10½ games on Aug. 24, but caught the Braves to make the playoffs and went on to win their 11th World Series title.
They've started another late push, winning four in a row and 13 of their past 20 to move a season-high 13 games over .500.
The Reds are holding on while waiting for their best hitter to get back. First baseman Joey Votto did a full workout before the game and said he's "not too far off" from returning. Votto, the league's MVP in 2010, was batting .342 when he had surgery for torn knee cartilage on July 17.
The rest of the lineup has done an impeccable job without him, going 26-13.
Rookie shortstop Zack Cozart led off the Reds' first with a double, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games. Rookie infielder Todd Frazier's RBI single extended his streak to a career-high nine games, helping the Reds get the early advantage.
Craig had a couple of streaks in play. He led off the second inning with a single that extended his run to 13 games, the longest active one in the majors. The hit also snapped his 0-for-15 career mark at Great American Ball Park.
|Jason Motte and Yadier Molina celebrate a big win as they begin an important road trip. (Getty Images)|
|Players of the Game|
New Era Reds 2013 Diamond Era 59FIFTY Fitted Hat - Red Shop Now!
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Jon Jay, CF||5||0||1||0||0||1||1||.314|
|Carlos Beltran, RF||4||1||1||0||1||1||1||.276|
|Matt Holliday, LF||5||1||1||0||0||0||3||.302|
|Allen Craig, 1B||5||2||3||3||0||1||0||.318|
|Yadier Molina, C||5||2||3||1||0||1||1||.328|
|David Freese, 3B||2||1||1||1||1||0||0||.299|
|a- Ryan Jackson, PH-2B||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.143|
|Skip Schumaker, 2B||4||1||3||0||0||0||1||.309|
|Edward Mujica, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mitchell Boggs, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jason Motte, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Rafael Furcal, SS||4||0||1||1||0||1||3||.269|
|Lance Lynn, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.071|
|Joe Kelly, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.125|
|b- Matt Carpenter, PH||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||.302|
|Fernando Salas, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Daniel Descalso, 2B-3B||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.224|
|a-grounded into a double play for Freese in the 9th|
|b-hit a sacrifice fly for Kelly in the 6th|
|HR - Allen Craig (19, Latos), Yadier Molina (17, Latos)|
|SF - Matt Carpenter (4)|
|RBI - Allen Craig 3 (68), Yadier Molina (61), David Freese (71), Rafael Furcal (49), Matt Carpenter (32)|
|2-OUT RBI - David Freese (34)|
|SB - Jon Jay (15, 2nd base off Simon/Hanigan)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - Freese-Schumaker-Craig|
|E - David Freese (12, Misplayed grounder), Joe Kelly (3, Misplayed grounder)|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Joe Kelly (W,4-5)||3||4||1||1||1||6||0||3.26|
|Fernando Salas (H,5)||1||0||0||0||0||3||0||4.02|
|Edward Mujica (H,21)||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||3.40|
|Mitchell Boggs (H,25)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||2.02|
|Jason Motte (S,30)||1||2||0||0||0||1||0||2.63|
|IBB - Hanigan by Joe Kelly|
|Pitches-Strikes - Lance Lynn 62-37, Joe Kelly 69-42, Fernando Salas 14-10, Edward Mujica 10-10, Mitchell Boggs 10-7, Jason Motte 14-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Lance Lynn 2-2, Joe Kelly 1-3, Edward Mujica 1-0, Mitchell Boggs 2-1, Jason Motte 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Lance Lynn 13, Joe Kelly 15, Fernando Salas 3, Edward Mujica 3, Mitchell Boggs 4, Jason Motte 5|
|Zack Cozart, SS||5||1||1||0||0||1||4||.252|
|Drew Stubbs, CF||4||1||0||0||1||3||3||.227|
|Brandon Phillips, 2B||5||1||2||1||0||2||0||.290|
|Ryan Ludwick, LF||5||0||2||0||0||1||0||.272|
|Jay Bruce, RF||5||1||1||0||0||2||3||.259|
|Todd Frazier, 1B||4||1||3||1||1||1||0||.298|
|Scott Rolen, 3B||5||0||2||1||0||1||2||.249|
|Ryan Hanigan, C||2||0||0||1||1||1||3||.290|
|Mat Latos, P||3||0||1||0||0||2||6||.196|
|Alfredo Simon, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Xavier Paul, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.302|
|Sam LeCure, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-lined out for Simon in the 8th|
|2B - Zack Cozart (31, Lynn), Scott Rolen (14, Kelly)|
|SF - Ryan Hanigan (2)|
|RBI - Brandon Phillips (65), Todd Frazier (59), Scott Rolen (31), Ryan Hanigan (17)|
|Team LOB - 11|
|DP - Cozart-B. Phillips-Frazier, Cozart-B. Phillips-Frazier|
|Mat Latos (L,10-4)||5||9||7||7||1||5||2||3.84|
|HBP - Freese (by Alfredo Simon)|
|WP - Mat Latos (3), Alfredo Simon 3 (8)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Mat Latos 93-61, Alfredo Simon 52-32, Sam LeCure 9-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mat Latos 5-4, Alfredo Simon 6-2, Sam LeCure 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Mat Latos 24, Alfredo Simon 15, Sam LeCure 3|
|Attendance - 36162|
|Game Time - 3:35|
|Temperature - 90|
|Umpires - Home - Jordan Baker, First Base - Ted Barrett, Second Base - Brian Runge, Third Base - Tim McClelland|