(AP) — Paul DeJong didn’t start the season in the majors. Now he’s in the St. Louis Cardinals record book.
DeJong homered, Yadier Molina drove in three runs and the streaking Cardinals outslugged the Cincinnati Reds 13-4 on Tuesday night.
The Cardinals have won four straight and six of their last seven to stay two games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
DeJong’s drive to center, his first homer since Sept. 3, gave the Cardinals a 9-4 lead in the sixth. His team-leading 22 homers are the most in a season by a Cardinals shortstop, bettering Jhonny Peralta’s 21 in 2014.
“I never really thought about it,” DeJong said. “I just want to go out there and play like the player I am and let the results speak for themselves.”
DeJong didn’t make his debut until May 28 when, fittingly, he hit a home run in his first at-bat at Colorado. He has 35 combined homers between the majors and Triple-A Memphis.
“Three-hole, shortstop, just a lot to ask of any player, but I think just because they’re young players that you don’t give them the opportunity to respond,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “That’s exactly what he’s doing. He’s responded very well so I think we’re at that point that he’s our guy at that spot in the order.”
DeJong was a triple away from a cycle when he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh.
“It’s more important to get Paul of the field,” Matheny said. “Rain’s starting to come down, he’s had a great day, wet track, him pushing for triple would probably be one of the worst things he could have done.”
Molina’s two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the first gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead. He drove in his 10th run over his past three games with a single in the sixth. Molina leads the team with 75 RBIs.
Matt Carpenter walked a career-best four times, doubled in a run and scored twice.
“We talk about those big hits, just a relentless offense,” Matheny said.
Lance Lynn (11-7) allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits in five innings.
Robert Stephenson (4-5) was pulled after three innings, the shortest career outing for the Reds rookie. He allowed six runs, four earned, and all three of his walks scored. Cincinnati walked nine batters and lost its third of four.
“I just wasn’t sharp,” Stephenson said. “I was behind on a lot of hitters and they had the leadoff runner on every single inning and I wasn’t able to throw quality pitches when I needed to.”
Tommy Pham had a two-run triple and scored four runs. Jose Martinez had a pair of hits and drove in two.
“The most important thing for us is to go out there and try to be our best,” Martinez said. “Trust in ourselves and trust on our abilities to make something happen.”
Zack Cozart’s 433-foot drive off Lynn in the first gave the Reds six players with 20 or more homers in a season for the first time in franchise history.
“We just got to keep doing what we’re doing and we can’t change anything,” DeJong said. “Tomorrow it starts over.”
Reds: 2B Scooter Gennett left the game with left hand inflammation. RHP Keury Mella was recalled from Double-A Pensacola, RHP Deck McGuire had his contract selected from Pensacola, OF Jesse Winker (left hip flexor) was activated from the 10-day disabled list and RHP Barrett Astin was designated for assignment.
Cardinals: OF Magneuris Sierra was recalled from Triple-A Memphis, and OF Breyvic Valera was optioned to Memphis. OF Dexter Fowler still has swelling in his bruised right knee. RHP Adam Wainwright (right elbow) threw a bullpen session.