Fryer leads Cardinals past Reds

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[April 18, 2016]  ST. LOUIS -- On a day where the St. Louis Cardinals honored catcher Yadier Molina for winning his eighth Gold Glove, Molina's rarely-used backup stole the show.

Eric Fryer went 3-for-3 with a walk and knocked in the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth Sunday as he led St. Louis to a 4-3 decision over the Cincinnati Reds at sold-out Busch Stadium.

With two outs and pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz at first after a leadoff walk, Fryer lashed a 1-0 fastball from reliever Ross Ohlendorf (2-1) into the left-center field gap for a double, easily scoring Diaz.

The tie-breaking hit upped Fryer to 6-for-6 on the year, making him the first Cardinal to start a season with five straight hits since Eli Marrero did it in 2002.

"As a catcher, I'm definitely going to take more pride in my defense," Fryer said, "but I'm pretty proud of my hitting too. I knew Ohlendorf likes to throw his fastball on the outer half, but it probably caught more of the plate than he wanted, and I put a good swing on it."

There were nothing but good swings for the 30-year old Fryer, who's spent parts of the last three seasons with Minnesota after making his MLB debut with Pittsburgh in 2011. Fryer gave St. Louis (7-5) a 2-1 lead with an RBI double down the right field line in the second, then added a single in the fourth and a walk in the sixth.

It was the third three-hit game of Fryer's 69-game MLB career.

"Great day overall," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Fryer. "Had a nice, short swing and got to the ball well. It's nice to be able to get Yadi a day and to have (Fryer) come in and do what he did."

Molina did enter for the ninth as part of a series of defensive changes, catching for Trevor Rosenthal as he mowed down Cincinnati (6-6) in order for his third save in as many chances.

Kevin Siegrist (2-0) earned the win by retiring all four hitters he faced, three via strikeouts. The Cardinals' bullpen delivered three scoreless innings, permitting only one hit and notching five strikeouts.

Cincinnati touched starter Michael Wacha for a first inning run on Joey Votto's sacrifice fly, but the Reds compromised their chances for a big rally when Wacha picked Eugenio Suarez off first after Suarez singled Zack Cozart to third.

Jedd Gyorko's one-out homer and Fryer's first run-scoring double gave the Cardinals a brief advantage, but Cincinnati regained the lead when St. Louis' often-leaky defense betrayed it during a two-run fourth inning.

After Brandon Phillips reached on a fielding error by shortstop Greg Garcia, Jay Bruce beat out an infield hit. Wacha's rushed throw to first rolled down the right field line, scoring Phillips all the way from first, and Bruce came home on Devin Mesoraco's RBI single.

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The pair of miscues gave the Cardinals 14 in their first 12 games, tied with the Reds for the National League lead. But that was all Cincinnati managed off Wacha, who gave up seven hits and one earned run in six innings with a walk and five strikeouts.

St. Louis equalized in the fifth when Matt Carpenter cracked a leadoff homer into its bullpen in right-center, his second homer of the year and the Cardinals' 10th of the series.

That was it for the offenses until Fryer capped perhaps the best day of his MLB career with the deciding hit.

"It was a close game today that came down to them getting the last big hit," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It wasn't a game that got away. It was a game that they won by a run."

Cincinnati starter Jon Moscot worked 5 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and three runs with a walk and two strikeouts in his first outing of the season.

But the unquestioned man of the hour was the guy who hadn't started a game since late last season in Minnesota, filling in only to give St. Louis' ironman catcher a break.

"We finally got a good catcher, I guess. I don't know," joked Rosenthal.

NOTES: Cincinnati activated RHP Jon Moscot (strained left intercostal muscle) from the 15-day DL and started him on Sunday, optioning RHP Keyvius Sampson to Triple-A Louisville. ... St. Louis SS Ruben Tejada (left quad strain) will be activated Monday if he's deemed to be ready after playing three games in a rehab stint at Double-A Springfield. The team is still deciding on a corresponding move. ... Reds LHP John Lamb started a rehab assignment at Louisville Saturday night and worked three innings, giving up six hits and three runs with a walk and four strikeouts over 65 pitches.

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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