Ozuna, Cardinals power past Reds 9-5 for split in Mexico
By CARLOS RODRIGUEZ Associated Press
MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) — For Marcell Ozuna, the atmosphere in the Estadio de Beisbol de Monterrey made it feel like a home game. Not in St. Louis, but back in the Dominican Republic.
Ozuna hit two home runs and Matt Carpenter connected for a tiebreaking drive in the seventh inning that sent the Cardinals over the Cincinnati Reds 9-5 Sunday for a split of their two-game series in Mexico.
“I liked the crowd here, it’s like in my country, it’s kind of the same the energy,” Ozuna said.
“It’s my first time in Monterrey and it feels good, the passion and the feel for the game that they have,” he said.
Ozuna has four home runs in his last five games along with eight RBIs.
“I’m sure it was a comfortable feeling for him. I know it was for me,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “It’s an atmosphere that all Latin players enjoy, I’m sure I did.”
The stadium didn’t sell out for either game. But on both days, fans were noisy throughout the game, and the PA system blasted Latin music at every opportunity, creating a fiesta-like atmosphere.
“It felt like a winter league game there and I was trying to give my best to them,” Ozuna said.
Tyler O’Neill also homered for St. Louis. Yasiel Puig hit his first home run for the Reds and Jesse Winker hit his second in two days.
The Cardinals saluted the fans after the win and gave away their hats. The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels will play twice at this stadium in early May — Major League Baseball has committed to bring regular-season games to Mexico until 2021.
It was 4-all when Carpenter opened the seventh with his second home run of the season, tagging Amir Garrett (1-1). Ozuna hit a solo homer off Jared Hughes and Jose Martinez capped the five-run inning with a two-run single that made it 9-4.
“Amir has been doing a great job and he has been pitching very well,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It was a huge hit in the game for them. After that Jared came in to finish the right-handers and it just did not work out today.”
Ozuna hit a three-run homer and O’Neill added a solo drive as the Cardinals took a 4-0 lead in the first off Anthony DeSclafini.
The Reds rallied to tie it with a four-run fifth off Miles Mikolas. An error by Carpenter at third base set up an RBI double by Michael Lorenzen, and Winker’s three-run drive tied it.
Winker has hit four home runs in his last five games.
Puig homered in the eighth to make it 9-5 and the Reds loaded the bases, but Jordan Hicks retired pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer on a grounder to escape.
Hicks closed for this third save. John Gant (3-0) pitched one inning.
CHANGING THE TUNE
For the Mexico series, and probably in an attempt to please the local crowd, Puig and Reds teammate Joey Votto changed their walk-up song. Puig dropped “This Girl” by Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners for “El Rey” by Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez, while Votto skipped “Paint It Black” from the Rolling Stones and instead used “Como la Flor” by Selena.
Cardinals: RHP Dakota Hudson (0-1, 2.79) starts at Milwaukee.
Reds: Puig makes his return to Dodger Stadium when Cincinnati opens a series Monday. RHP Luis Castillo (1-1, 0.92 ERA) starts for the Reds — he struck out at least eight and given up no more than two hits in each of his first three starts this year.
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