ST. LOUIS — Coming into Monday’s makeup game, the St. Louis Cardinals led the majors in making outs on the bases with a whopping 62.
Tommy Pham flipped that narrative for a day with a daring dash around the bases that helped shape the game.
“That stuff fires us up,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “We talk about it all the time — have your antennae up, look to make something happen. You love to see him use all the tools he has. Just a big game all the way around for him.”
Pham worked a leadoff walk from Brandon Finnegan (1-1). On Randal Grichuk’s routine fly ball to center, Pham waited for Patrick Kivlehan to throw the ball to a cutoff man in shallow left-center, then bolted for second and beat a hurried throw there.
With Finnegan paying little attention to him, Pham then stole third with Stephen Piscotty at the plate. To cap his speedy tour, Pham raced home when ball four to Piscotty clanked off Devin Mesoraco’s glove for a passed ball.
One run, no hits, one excited baseball team.
“That was great,” third baseman Jedd Gyorko said of Pham. “I haven’t seen something like that in a while. He made great hustle plays, got us on the board early.”
Perhaps still rattled by Pham’s legs, Finnegan then ran head-long into Gyorko’s bat. A 3-1 sinker was punished, flying 413 feet to left-center field for Gyorko’s 12th homer of the year and a 3-0 St. Louis lead on one hit.
The day only hinted at getting better once for Cincinnati (31-44). The first of two sacrifice flies by Adam Duvall in the fourth got it on the board, but Michael Wacha regained control with consecutive strikeouts of Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler.
Finnegan, who hadn’t pitched in the majors since April 15 due to a left shoulder injury, then left three pitches into his half of the fourth when he suffered a left triceps strain while throwing ball two to Paul DeJong.
“About halfway through the third, I could feel it,” Finnegan said. “I thought I could throw through it. I thought I was just getting fatigued. But the last pitch just didn’t feel right. The manager knew something was going on.”
Austin Brice relieved, but offered none of it. The Cardinals touched him for nine hits and five runs in two-plus innings. Pham’s two-out RBI single in the fourth was followed by Grichuk’s towering two-run homer just over the center field wall.
It was the sixth homer for Grichuk and his second in as many days since being recalled from Triple-A Memphis Sunday.
Given ample run support, Wacha (4-3) produced an outing good enough to win a tighter game. In completing six innings for just the second time in seven starts, he allowed five hits and a run, walking one and fanning five.
“I felt like I was back on top of the ball, throwing downhill into the zone,” Wacha said. “I got some soft contact, some ground balls. I felt like I’d been putting a lot of pressure on the bullpen lately with short starts.”
Grichuk and Gyorko tacked on RBI singles in the sixth for an 8-1 lead. St. Louis (35-40) won its second straight game ahead of a six-game stretch against Arizona and Washington. The Cardinals are only 10-19 against opponents with records north of .500.
Finnegan lasted only three innings, allowing three hits and three runs. He walked four and fanned two, throwing just 31 of 58 pitches before injury was piled on top of repeated insult. Since sweeping a four-game series from St. Louis in early June, the Reds are 2-14.
“I definitely didn’t want to come out like I did,” Finnegan said. “I don’t think it is anything too serious.”
NOTES: Cincinnati activated LHP Brandon Finnegan (left shoulder) from the 60-day DL to start Monday’s game. It made room for him by optioning RHP Lisalverto Bonilla to Triple-A Louisville. … St. Louis gave 1B Matt Carpenter a rest day, marking just the eighth time in 75 games he wasn’t in the starting lineup. Rookie Luke Voit made his first big league start in Carpenter’s place. … The Reds transferred RHP Bronson Arroyo (right shoulder) from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL. Arroyo originally went on the DL on June 19 with a 3-6 record and 7.35 ERA.