ST. LOUIS — Mitchell Boggs watched TV with his wife and played with the dog, anything to get his mind off an inept outing in the St. Louis Cardinals’ home opener. It can’t be understated how happy the right-hander was to get right back on the mound.
A day after the stand-in closer was the goat of the Reds’ nine-run ninth inning, Boggs retired Cincinnati in order to close out a 5-1 victory Tuesday night.
“Anybody who’s gone through it knows how important it is to get back out there quick,” Boggs said. “It was a big outing for me, I’m not going to dance around it. I’m not going to act like I didn’t care.”
Before the game, Boggs found out the Cardinals might need a long-term solution in the ninth inning. They’ll decide at the beginning of May whether closer Jason Motte, who has a strained right elbow, will require reconstructive surgery.
Motte is optimistic after a second MRI exam Tuesday showed some improvement.
“I’m not doing anything more to hurt it, so it’s kind of out of my hands, honestly,” Motte said. “We’re doing everything we can to get it better.”
Cardinals rookie Trevor Rosenthal also had a strong outing, allowing a hit in the eighth one night after giving up the tying run.
“I know Mitchell was especially eager to get back on the mound, and I think it worked out well,” manager Mike Matheny said. “He and Trevor both threw the ball exceptionally well.”
Lance Lynn struck out 10 in six sharp innings and rookie Matt Adams connected for his first career pinch-hit homer off a slow curveball from Bronson Arroyo.
“He was throwing the majority off-speed the whole game and with the tying run at third I had a pretty good idea I was going to get an off-speed pitch sometime during that at-bat,” Adams said. “You don’t want to roll over it and not get the job done.”
Arroyo (1-1) retired his first 15 batters. The Cardinals broke through in the sixth, with Adams hitting a two-run homer and Allen Craig and Carlos Beltran also driving in runs.
“To be honest, I hate being in ballgames when you’ve got a no-hitter and you’re only winning 1-0,” Arroyo said. “I feel like the guy with the no-no loses. I’ve seen it happen so many times it’s ridiculous.”
Brandon Phillips had a sacrifice fly and Shin-Soo Choo had two hits for Cincinnati. The Reds were held to five hits, ending a run of four consecutive games with double-figure hit totals. Choo has four straight two-hit games.
Jake Westbrook (0-1) opposes Homer Bailey (1-0) in the finale of the three-game series on Wednesday. The defending NL Central champion Reds are just 3-22-2 in 27 series in St. Louis since the start of the 2003 season and are trying for their first series win at Busch Stadium since Sept. 2-4, 2011.
Lynn (1-0) retired the first 10 batters with seven strikeouts before the Reds scratched out a run in the fourth on consecutive one-hit singles from Zack Cozart and Joey Votto and Phillips’ sacrifice fly. Left fielder Matt Holliday made a sliding catch on the warning track in left-centre to limit the damage to a run.
“It was a great play,” Matheny said. “He covered as much ground as I’ve probably ever seen him cover. That really could have turned ugly for us.”
Lynn, who gave up four runs in four innings in his first start at Arizona, said the difference was simple: “Less walks, more strikes, less barrels, less hits.”
Arroyo needed just 63 pitches to get through five, keeping the Cardinals guessing with his assortment of off-speed pitches. Right fielder Jay Bruce’s sliding catch robbed Yadier Molina of a hit to end the fifth, but Arroyo allowed hits to four of the first five batters in the sixth.
“He just started getting balls up and it happened so quickly,” manager Dusty Baker said. “They were like boom, bat, boom.
“That’s how they can do it. That was a disaster inning.”
Daniel Descalso doubled on an 0-1 pitch to open the inning, making him 8 for 19 against Arroyo, and advanced on a groundout before Adams’ shot over the wall in right-centre on a slow curveball. The Cardinals had three more hits and an intentional walk in the inning, getting an RBI groundout from Craig and a run-scoring single from Beltran.
St. Louis might have missed a chance for even more when Matt Carpenter retreated a few steps to third on Beltran’s liner to centre, causing Holliday to slow trying to score from second, and Choo’s strong throw caught Holliday at the plate for the third out.
Arroyo is 8-14 with a 4.60 ERA in his career against the Cardinals and 3-7 with a 5.46 ERA in 15 starts at 8-year-old Busch Stadium.
NOTES: Derrick Robinson made his first career start for the Reds and played LF, going 1 for 3 with two strikeouts.