ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina has picked off 48 runners in his 14-year career, and his heads-up play in the sixth inning of the Cardinals’ 7-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday may have been his finest work.
Molina short-circuited a Reds rally by catching Eugenio Suarez napping at third with the bases loaded in a 3-1 game.
Starting pitcher Lance Lynn walked Devin Mesoraco with two away. Suarez took one step off third base anticipating a time out and a pitching change.
Molina quickly fired the ball to third baseman Jedd Gyorko, who sneaked in behind Suarez and applied the tag.
The Cardinals parlayed the momentum from the play into a three-run outburst in the bottom of the inning and a 6-1 lead.
“I was waiting for it, it was a timing thing,” Molina said.
Suarez admitted his error.
“(My) mistake, I wasn’t paying attention and he got me,” Suarez. “I thought it was a pitching change and you’ve got to pay attention especially with that guy. He’s good.”
The play changed the entire complexion of the game, according to Cincinnati manager Bryan Price.
“You take your eye off the ball and he’ll find a way to back pick you,” Price said. “That’s what he does. He’s famous for it.”
Gyorko hit a solo homer in the bottom of the inning to push the lead to 4-1.
Dexter Fowler had a two-run blast in the third as St. Louis won for the ninth time in 11 games and moved above the .500 mark for the first time since winning its season opener against the Chicago Cubs.
The Reds have lost eight of nine.
Lynn (3-1) allowed six hits and one run over six innings to record his third straight win. He struck out five and walked two. Lynn, who appeared to be coming out of the game after the walk to Mesoraco, greatly appreciated Molina’s intuition.
“I got myself in trouble and he bailed me out,” Lynn said.
Gyorko said he and Molina had talked about the play before but they had never tried it.
Fowler’s homer off Tim Adleman (0-1) broke a 1-1 tie.
Seung Hwan Oh retired four batters to pick up his sixth save in seven opportunities.
Joey Votto hit a two-run homer in the eighth. Scott Schebler had a solo shot in the second to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. Scooter Gennett doubled in a pair of runs in the eighth.
“It was certainly good to see our guys come back and make that push in the eighth inning,” Price said.
Mesoraco went 1 for 3 in his first game since coming off the disabled list on Thursday. He missed the start of the season with shoulder and hip injuries.
MAGIC NO. 9
The Cardinals lead the majors with 17 RBI out of the No. 9 spot in the batting order. They have hit six home runs, also a league best.
Cincinnati outfielder Billy Hamilton is 24-for-26 in stolen base attempts against Yadier Molina, the most by any player against the eight-time Gold Glove catcher. Hamilton singled with two out in the fifth, but did not attempt to steal.