ST. LOUIS -- Within the span of five sixth-inning pitches, the Cardinals foiled Bronson Arroyo's perfect game and positioned their bullpen for an immediate chance at redemption. And in the big picture of the season -- one that looks increasingly likely to be played without Jason Motte -- the latter was of particular importance.
In securing a win for Lance Lynn, the Cardinals' late-inning relievers put away Monday's ugly affair and rewarded manager Mike Matheny's decision to go right back to them. Taking a lead provided by Matt Adams' 403-foot, pinch-hit home run, Trevor Rosenthal and Mitchell Boggs closed out a 5-1 win over the Reds in front of 37,731 at Busch Stadium.
"I know it wasn't a save situation tonight, but it didn't matter to me," said Boggs, who pitched a perfect ninth. "That was as big a game for me as any I've ever pitched."
The comments came from a right-hander who, a day earlier, stood in front of his locker disgusted with how he let a tie game turn into a runaway Cincinnati win. If he had questions about whether he'd lost the handle on the team's closer's duties, those were quelled during batting practice.
Making his usual rounds, Matheny found Boggs with a simple message: the ninth would be his again that night.
"It's a pleasure to show up here every single day and know the guy sitting in that office cares about you and believes in you," Boggs said. "It would have been easy for him to say, 'Let's give him a few days. Let's throw him in there in a spot where it doesn't matter.' That would have been an easy thing for him to do. But I appreciate him sticking with me."
Matheny met with Rosenthal before the game as well, letting him know he, too, wasn't going to be moved. And indeed, with a three-run lead, it was Rosenthal who was summoned to hold it in the eighth.
"To have the opportunity to go back out there and see that they have the confidence in me to get in that situation again was big," Rosenthal said. "And to have the results is always better. To know that a manager really cares and has your best interest in mind is huge."
A night after losing his grip on a lead, Rosenthal erased a Shin-Soo Choo single with an inning-ending double play to secure his first hold in three chances. He pitched an inning after Edward Mujica retired the Reds in order.
"It was rewarding," Matheny said, "to be able to get those guys back out there in a situation where they could feel good about themselves heading into the game tomorrow."
While the bullpen bounceback could have long-term benefit, the Cardinals' ability to even the series hinged on finding a way to break through against Arroyo.
The crafty Reds starter entered the sixth with a 1-0 lead and having retired all 15 batters he had faced. Daniel Descalso changed the latter with a leadoff double and two batters later, Adams, pinch-hitting for Lynn, dumped a hanging curveball into the Cardinals' bullpen.
The homer was the third of Adams' brief Major League career and it came on a pitch that has given him fits in the past, which is why he spent the winter hitting off a curveball machine.
"With the tying run at third base, I had a pretty good idea that I was going to get an offspeed pitch sometime during that at-bat," Adams said. "He left it up in the zone and I was able to get the barrel on it."
The two-run shot, which came in Adams' first pinch-hit opportunity of the season, was the first pinch-hit blast by a Cardinal since Lance Berkman connected in May 2012.
"He's been paying real close attention," Matheny said of Adams. "You see him on the top step. He's not just sitting around like he's on vacation. The guy is working hard. We have been very clear that that bench position is probably a position where you're going to have to work twice as hard as anybody else that is playing every day."
The Cardinals then piled on a pair of insurance runs to give the 'pen a cushion. After singles by Jon Jay and Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig pushed a run home with a groundout. Carlos Beltran drove home the other with a single to center. Carpenter singled and scored an inning later to erase a save opportunity for Boggs.
The sixth-inning scoring came just in time to support Lynn, who struck out two batters in five of the six innings he pitched. The 10 strikeouts tied a season best for a Cardinals pitcher, matching what Jaime Garcia did against the Reds on Monday.
"He's good. He comes right after you," said Reds infielder Zack Cozart, who played college ball with Lynn. "He's not scared to throw his fastball. That's what he did tonight. He got ahead and threw a lot of fastballs. He's a competitor. He obviously outdid us tonight. He pitched well."
The Reds scraped their only run off Lynn in the fourth, despite only hitting one ball with much authority. Cozart's one-out chopper skipped past shortstop Pete Kozma. Joey Votto then reached when his grounder snuck through the right side of the infield as Descalso raced to cover second.
Cozart scored on Brandon Phillips' sacrifice fly, which would have been an extra-base hit if not for Matt Holliday's sliding catch.
"That's probably as much ground as I've seen him cover," Matheny said. "He was aggressive going after that. That certainly could have been ugly for us."
Lynn (1-0) then stranded two in his final inning of work. He fell just two strikeouts shy of equaling his career high of 12, which he set on June 13, 2012, against the White Sox.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.