CINCINNATI — Jim Edmonds considered bunting, then changed his mind and hit a three-run home run. John Mabry just tried to put the ball in play, but put it over the center-field wall for the go-ahead runs.
The greatest ninth-inning comeback in St. Louis Cardinals history was made of odd moments.
Edmonds’ two-out home run off Danny Graves got the seemingly down-and-out Cardinals within a run, and Mabry’s first home run of the season completed a seven-run rally for a 10-9 victory against the crestfallen Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.
“It was like an ugly game gone uglier,” Edmonds said. “It was just a wild game.”
One that neither the Reds nor their 15,961 booing fans will soon forget. Cincinnati hadn’t blown a six-run lead in the ninth since June 29, 1952, when an 8-2 advantage turned into a 9-8 loss to the Cubs.
“That’s what you’ve got to do, but it’s not easy to think about during the night,” Reds manager Dave Miley said, staring straight ahead as he tried to put it behind him. “It’s not easy to give a big-league game away, but we did.”
Until the ninth, they thought they were the ones getting the breaks.
Ken Griffey Jr.’s disputed home run — a drive that hit the top of the wall and bounced back — helped Cincinnati pull ahead 9-3 after eight innings. The Cardinals then sent 12 batters to the plate in a topsy-turvy ninth that consisted of four singles, two walks, two home runs and an error.
David Weathers walked the first two batters and let in the first two runs. Graves (1-1) came on to face Edmonds, who came to the plate thinking he just needed to get on base.
“I was thinking about bunting, honestly,” Edmonds said. “I looked at the scoreboard and we were down four and I’m the third run. He (Graves) doesn’t give up too many runs to us.”
On Graves’ third pitch, Edmonds got a sloppy breaking ball and hit it deep into the seats for his sixth home run. Mark Grudzielanek then hit a ball past first baseman Sean Casey, who got an error, and Mabry hit one over the wall in center.
“Nobody wants to make that last out,” Mabry said. “That’s what it comes down to.”
The fans booed Graves as he walked off the field after his first blown save in nine chances. The Reds have blown leads of four, five, and now six runs since last Wednesday.
“It’s frustrating, but what’s even more frustrating is hearing the fans boo you in your own ballpark,” Graves said. “We’re out there trying the best we can. That’s not the first time it’s happened, and as long as I’ll be playing, it won’t be the last.”
The Reds appeared to have the game well in hand after they scored four runs in the eighth, which ended with Randy Flores (1-0) striking out Adam Dunn. Julian Tavarez closed out the Cardinals’ comeback win by pitching the ninth for his second save.
The NL Central leading Cardinals went 14-5 against the Reds last season, and have won two of three this year. All the Reds could win on Monday was a home-run dispute.
Griffey had failed to hit a home run in his first 79 at-bats, the longest drought of his career to start a season. He broke it with a shot in Milwaukee.
His second home run of the season didn’t even make it that far.
Griffey led off the sixth with a drive that landed on the yellow padding atop the wall in center and bounced back. The umpires ruled the ball was in play, with Griffey stopping at second for a double. Then, the crew huddled and decided it was a home run.
The umpiring crew was led by Ed Montague, a 30-year veteran who worked home plate for the All-Star game last year and Game 1 of the World Series, when Boston beat St. Louis. Montague said the crew was split on whether the ball had hit the top of the wall and bounced over.