Reds rally past Cardinals to avoid sweep

Thursday, April 12, 2012
Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia delivers during the first inning Wednesday in Cincinnati. (DAVID KOHL ~ Associated Press)

CINCINNATI -- The St. Louis Cardinals tried to sneak out of the Great American Ball Park with a series sweep despite missing three starters.

Joey Votto ruined the plan.

Votto tied a career best with four hits and scored the go-ahead run on pinch-hitter Chris Heisey's ninth-inning single to cap a comeback from a three-run deficit and lead the Cincinnati Reds over the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 on Wednesday.

The defending World Series champions won just a single game in Cincinnati last season but already have taken two this year.

New Cardinals manager Mike Matheny wanted to make it three, even though he had planned to rest hot-hitting David Freese and Carlos Beltran. He was forced to play without Lance Berkman, who strained his left calf Tuesday night.

"We were hoping to steal one today," Matheny said. "We tried to grind it out."

The Reds, who were down 3-0 in the third against Jaime Garcia, tied the score in the fifth.

Garcia was working out of trouble all day and pitched into the fifth, but his tight-rope act caught up to him.

"I was getting ahead, but I wasn't able to put them away," Garcia said. "I don't want to make excuses. They have a good lineup."

Garcia fouled off several tough pitches from Reds starter Johnny Cueto before he singled with two outs in the third inning. Rafael Furcal, who was rested Tuesday, returned to the lineup and tripled into the right-field corner. Jon Jay hit his first home run of the season to give Garcia a lead.

"It was a great at-bat," Matheny said about Garcia's battle with Cueto. "Cueto is no walk in the park, and we put some good at-bats together."

Votto doubled home a run in the bottom of the third inning. Wilson Valedez, who was playing for the injured Brandon Phillips, tied the game with a two-out bunt single off Garcia in the fifth inning. It was Valdez's second bunt hit. Both were to the first base side of Garcia.

"The first was the better than the second," Garcia said. "I have to make that play."

His manager agreed.

"The second bunt killed us," Matheny said. "We shouldn't have been surprised by the second one."

Votto doubled off Marc Rzepczynski (0-1) to lead off the ninth for his fourth four-hit game. Ryan Ludwick was walked intentionally and Jay Bruce struck out. Fernando Salas relieved, and Heisey lined a single to left.

"There was no doubt, right off the bat," Heisey said. "It was a good feeling to get the barrel of the bat on it."

Aroldis Chapman (2-0) struck out five over two scoreless innings to help the Reds avoid a three-game sweep.

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