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MLB: Inspired Cardinals vie for series victory vs. Reds

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The St. Louis Cardinals look to ride the momentum of a spirited victory into Sunday’s finale of a three-game series against the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

The Cardinals (72-69) rallied from a four-run deficit to post a 6-4 win on Saturday at Busch Stadium after the Reds (75-68) recorded a 4-2 victory in the series opener.

“A win like this could really get us going,” St. Louis pitcher Miles Mikolas said.

“We knew we had to win this game,” Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong said. “Coming down to the wire, it’s all hands on deck. We’re playing with that playoff mentality.”

Meanwhile, the Reds are trying to gain traction after losing their previous five series.

“Every single game we play from here on out we need to win,” Reds outfielder Nick Castellanos said.

The Cardinals on Sunday will start J.A. Happ (8-8, 6.24 ERA), who lost his past two starts while allowing 11 runs on 15 hits — including four homers — in just six innings. He has allowed 26 homers to right-handed batters this season.

“It’s the game really, now,” Happ said. “These guys are good. Sometimes they’ll hit it anyway when you do make your pitch. It’s mistakes. That’s something that I have to clean up. It just takes one. So the focus has to be there every pitch. Guys are good, and when I’m not they make me pay.”

Happ is 0-1 with a 15.88 ERA in two starts versus the Reds this season and 3-4 with a 6.43 ERA in 11 career starts against them. In his Sept. 1 start against Cincinnati, he retired just three batters while allowing seven runs on eight hits and two walks.

Castellanos is 14-for-27 against Happ with two doubles, a triple, three homers and 13 RBIs. Joey Votto (12-for-27, four doubles, homer, four RBIs), Delino DeShields Jr. (3-for-7, two doubles. RBI) and Jonathan India (3-for-4, walk, double) also have had success against him.

The Reds will turn to Sonny Gray (7-6, 3.88), who has allowed just four earned runs in 23 innings over his past four starts. He struck out eight batters and did not walk any in his most recent start, a 4-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

“I felt like he struck every hitter out,” Reds manager David Bell said. “I know that’s not true. He dominated after the first inning.”

He is 1-2 with an 11.25 ERA in three starts versus the Cardinals this season and 2-4 with 6.37 ERA in eight starts against them.

Tommy Edman (6-for-12, two doubles, homer, two RBIs), Nolan Arenado (4-for-9, homer, two RBIs) and Yadier Molina (3-for-10, double, homer, five RBIs) have hit well against Gray. Conversely, Matt Carpenter (0-for-6, four strikeouts), Paul Goldschmidt (1-for-18, seven strikeouts) and DeJong (2-for-14, four strikeouts) have not.

DeJong returned to the starting lineup in place of hot-hitting Edmundo Sosa, who was sidelined by a sore wrist in the first two games of the series. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said Sosa is “able to do some activity and, hopefully, get it behind him. It was bothersome and still is.”

The Cardinals activated reliever Justin Miller (ulnar nerve irritation) from the 10-day injured list and sent spare catcher Ali Sanchez back to Triple-A Memphis.

Reds outfielder Tyler Naquin sustained bruised ribs Saturday night during an outfield collision with shortstop Jose Barrero. Naquin’s availability for Sunday’s game remains in question.

–Field Level Media

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