CINCINNATI (AP) – Jon Lester allowed a hit when he broke into the seventh inning, Paul Goldschmidt homered and the St. Louis Cardinals approached the breaking Cincinnati Reds in the NL wildcard race with a 3-1 win on Monday evening .
The Cardinals closed for second wildcard within 2 1/2 games of Cincinnati. San Diego is in between.
The Reds have scored a run in each of their last three games – all defeats – and lost five of their last seven games. Their four best hitters on the lineup combined the 0-for-14 ending.
“We are a powerful team” said Red’s shortstop Kyle Farmer, who got Cincinnati’s only two hits, including his career high 12th home run. “Teams that do well break out of break-ins. There isn’t much that is urgent among the boys. We’ve had some really, really good pitches in the last five games. “
Lester (5-6), in his sixth start for St. Louis since taking over from Washington on July 30, retired 16 consecutive bats after giving up his only hit, Farmers leadoff homer in the second inning.
“Of course we all know what lies ahead of us” said Lester. “We have a lot of games against these guys and the (central leading) Brewers. Pitching well is a great feeling. It’s even better to do it against a team that you want to hunt. “
The veteran left-hander went two and hit five in 6 1/3 innings and took his fourth straight win after losing his first two starts with the Cardinals.
Right fielder Dylan Carlson, who contributed a sliding catch in fourth field from Joey Votto’s flyball in short right midfield, described Lester’s work as “ingenious.”
“He had his playing face on and he had what it takes to achieve the intense intensity that he brought into the game.” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. “He changed the speeds well and had the good curveball in the game. He was then unbalanced. He had her a little in front of the door. He was great to get into seventh place. “
TJ McFarland allowed a hit in 1 1/3 innings and Luis Garcia took the last out of the eighth before Giovanny Gallegos could throw the ninth for his third save.
It only took the Cardinals two strokes to take a 2-0 lead. Luis Castillo (7-14) led Tommy Edman, the reigning NL Player of the Week, to start the game. Goldschmidt followed to the right with a homer in the opposing field, his 22nd of the season and 11th in 41 career games at Great American Ball Park.
“Luis got a little too much from the record for a good batsman” Reds manager David Bell said. “Otherwise he was excellent.”
St. Louis added a run in the sixth round when Carlson doubled up and later hit the third baseline with Tyler O’Neill’s dribbler.
Farmer’s Homer was his 12th of the season, adding to his career high in a single season. He caught a 0-for-14 break-in.
Castillo lasted six innings, giving up five hits and three runs with two walks and eight strikeouts. After three wins in a row, he has lost four of his last five starts.
A young fan leaned over the seat in front of him with his black glove to watch Farmer’s home run in no time at all and was rewarded with high fives by fans in his vicinity.
VOTTO ON VERGE
Votto needs a homerun to hit 324 in his career and tie Hall of Famer Frank Robinson to second on Cincinnati’s career homer list. Johnny Bench leads with 389.
Red: RHP Brad Brach (right shoulder impingement) started a rehab at Triple-A Louisville on Monday. He has been on the injured list since August 8th.
Cardinals: RHP Miles Mikolas (0-1) is set to make his fourth start to the season and the second on the injured list (right forearm) since returning from his second stint.
Reds: RHP Sonny Gray (6-6) has a season high of 13 straight innings in his last two starts.
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