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Cards aim to distance themselves even further from Reds
(Sports Network) - An extra-inning victory like the one the St. Louis Cardinals gutted out on Wednesday night is the kind that can really shift momentum for a team.
The Cards hope that is the case on Thursday night as they look to split a four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds in the final regular season meeting between the two NL wild card holders.
Outscored 8-2 in losing the first two games of this set, the Cardinals saw Matt Adams homer twice in extra innings, his second coming in the 16th inning for a 5-4 win.
Adams, who came into the game when Allen Craig injured his left foot running the bases in the fourth inning, hit his first home run to lead off the 14th, but the Reds countered with a run in the bottom of the frame. Billy Hamilton entered the game as a pinch-runner for the second time in as many nights to begin his career and stole his second base. Zack Cozart then followed with a single to plate the speedster from second base.
Adams, though, came through again with a one-out solo homer off Logan Ondrusek in the 16th and Carlos Martinez finished off the Reds in order to finish off his second inning of relief.
"That's just a character win, guys just grinding, not giving up and not giving in," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Everybody did their part. Those wins you won't forget."
St. Louis won for just the second time in seven games, but moved within a game of Pittsburgh for first place in the NL Central. The Pirates are off on Thursday before coming to St. Louis for a three-game set this weekend.
Brandon Phillips homered and drove in his career-high 100th run of the season in defeat. He became the first Reds second baseman since Joe Morgan in 1976 to have at least 100 RBI.
"It's awesome. It's something I never thought I could do ... but it's all about winning right now," said Phillips. "We really needed that 'W.'"
Cincinnati fell 2 1/2 games behind St. Louis in the standings but is still 6 1/2 games up in the wild card race. The Reds had won three straight over the Cardinals for the first time since last season and trail in the season series 11-7.
They have not won a series over the Cards since a three-game sweep at home from July 13-15, 2012.
The Reds won't have to face Craig, who is hitting .315 this season and is third in the NL with 97 RBI. He was scheduled to return to St. Louis for an MRI on his foot.
That leaves St. Louis without one of its top offensive producers and the club turns to Lance Lynn on the mound tonight.
Lynn is 13-9 with a 4.29 earned run average in 28 starts this season, but has lost each of his last three outings and four decisions in a row overall.
The right-hander dropped a 7-1 outcome to Pittsburgh on Saturday, matching a season high by allowing seven runs over four innings of work.
"They hit a couple balls really hard against Lynn today," said Matheny. "This was not what he was looking for when he went out there today."
Lynn, 26, has not won since a victory in Cincinnati on Aug. 4, when he struck out a season-high 11 batters over eight innings of two-run ball. He is a perfect 3-0 in four starts against the Reds this year with a 2.67 ERA and 32 strikeouts over 27 innings.
Tony Cingrani will make his first start tonight for the Reds since Aug. 20, when he lasted 3 2/3 innings of a loss at Arizona due to a strained lower back. The lefty was able to throw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday with no issues, though Greg Reynolds will be available in relief should Cingrani not be able to pitch deep into the game.
Reynolds had taken the rotation spot of the injured Cingrani, who is 6-3 with a 2.76 ERA in 21 games (16 starts) this season.
The 24-year-old has faced the Cardinals just once this season and claimed an 8-3 win on Aug. 3. He allowed three runs on five innings, working around four hits and five walks while fanning seven.
09/05 10:36:29 ET
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