Ben Lively earned his first victory as a starter since 2017, Kevin Newman drove in three runs and Cincinnati had its highest hit total in almost a year in a 10-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night.
Rookie shortstop Matt McClain hit the second homer of his big league career and Spencer Steer had a career-best four hits with two RBIs for Cincinnati, which pounded out 18 hits, the team's highest total since posting 20 against the Chicago Cubs last May 26.
Lively's last win as a starter came as a member of the Phillies on Sept. 29, 2017, against the Mets. A fourth-round draft pick by the Reds in 2013, Lively spent time with the Phillies and two seasons as a reliever for the Royals before a two-year stint in South Korea.
“It was the same game plan I had last week, and all year," Lively said. "Getting the win as a starter is special.”
Lively (2-2) worked six innings, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out eight. It was the 31-year-old right-hander's longest effort since April 20, 2018, when he also went six inning for the Phillies in a 2-1 win over Pittsburgh.
“He sure did set the tone," Reds manager David Bell said. "Especially against that offense. He did a really nice job with the fastball up in the zone and got some swing and miss with the slider. It was just a great start.”
The Cardinals' Brendan Donovan and Lars Nootbaar homered, hitting leadoff shots in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively.
St. Louis left-hander Steven Matz remained winless after giving up up four runs in the first inning. Matz (0-6) allowed a season-high 11 hits and matched a season high by allowing six earned runs.
“Most strikes he's thrown with all his pitches, and he got hit,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “Not the outing we needed. He threw a lot of pitches in the zone. Left a lot of pitches up.”
The Reds scored in the first inning for the fifth straight game when Tyler Stephenson plated two runs with a single. Newman's two-out, two-run double made the score 4-0.
“That’s great to jump out in the first inning and score runs," Steer said. "You feel like you gain momentum right away.”
Cardinals right fielder Oscar Mercado appeared to rob McClain of an extra-base hit in the fourth inning, but the ball popped out of his mitt and into the stands for a solo homer, making the score 6-1.
“I was feeling good, my confidence was up, and I was ready to get out there,” Matz said. “I took a step back today. Some things I can look at and address. I felt like I was in a pretty good spot.”
St. Louis second baseman Nolan Gorman extended his career-best hitting streak to 14 games with a single in the third.
The Cardinals are in the midst of a stretch in which they play 19 games in 19 days. With six games still remaining before an off day, the schedule is beginning to take its toll.
“Guys are worn down," Marmol said. "We have to dig deep and find a way to give guys some days off. From a starting rotation standpoint, we wanted more innings today.”
Cardinals: OF Dylan Carlson (left ankle sprain) took some swings Wednesday from the right side. He will swing from the left side in a few days. .... OF Tyler O’Neill (lower back strain) hit off a tee Wednesday. He has had two setbacks in his recovery.
Reds: OF TJ Friedl, who returned on Tuesday after missing 10 games with a left oblique strain, was given a day off on Wednesday to ease him back into action. He was available off the bench.
Reds RHP Luke Weaver (1-2, 6.54) will make his first start against his former team, while Cardinals RHP Miles Mikolas (2-1, 4.77) is looking for his first win at Great American Ball Park since April 14, 2018.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Ben Lively (59) throws against the St. Louis Cardinals in the third inning of a baseball game in Cincinnati, Wednesday, May 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)