Wong caps ninth-inning rally, lifts Cardinals to victory over Reds

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Kolten Wong hit an RBI single and the St. Louis Cardinals returned to Busch Stadium with a rousing rally, scoring three runs in the ninth inning to beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 Thursday night.

St. Louis played its first home game since July 26. The Cardinals were idle for 17 days after 10 players tested positive for COVID-19.

Wong tossed high-fives in the general direction of his delirious teammates while jumping up and down. Yet he did not come into contact with anyone.

Social distancing at its finest.

“It’s weird,” the former University of Hawaii star from Hilo said.

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said the last at-bat win was still sweet even without the normal crazy celebration.

“A different kind of walkoff, but we’ll take it,” Shildt said. “It was fun. The guys still enjoyed it. It still tasted good. It was unique, but super fun still.”

Yadier Molina drove in three runs, including an RBI single in the ninth. The nine-time All-Star catcher made his first appearance since being sidelined by COVID-19 earlier this month.

“He’s just a pro’s pro,” St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright said. “He’s not a future Hall of Famer for nothing.”

A hit batter and a balk helped put the Cardinals in position in the ninth, and Wong hit a one-out, bases-loaded fly over the head of center fielder Travis Jankowski to win it.

St. Louis put the first four runners on in the ninth against closer Raisel Iglesias (1-2). Dexter Fowler loaded the bases with a single and Molina hit a grounder off the glove of Iglesias, cutting the deficit to 4-3.

Iglesias followed with a run-scoring balk to tie it and set up Wong.

Seth Elledge (1-0) picked up his first major league win with a scoreless ninth inning.

Cincinnati starter Sonny Gray struck out six over six innings to bring his NL-leading total to 51. He walked four.

“The game just sped up on me,” Gray said. “I didn’t really have good stuff.”

Freddy Galvis homered off Wainwright, who gave up four runs, two of them earned, on six hits in seven innings. The 38-year-old retired the last 15 batters he faced after allowing a run-scoring double to Mike Moustakas in the third that pushed the lead to 4-2.

The Reds pushed across a pair of unearned runs in the first on errors by third baseman Brad Miller and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.