Matt Adams' second homer of the game proved to be the difference as the St. Louis Cardinals outlasted the Cincinnati Reds, 5-4, in 16 innings on Wednesday.
Adams, who replaced Allen Craig at first base after the latter sprained his left foot rounding first in the fourth inning, took Logan Ondrusek (3-1) deep to right on the second pitch he saw. Carlos Martinez (2-1) secured the win for the Cardinals with a 1-2-3 bottom of the 16th.
Matt Carpenter had three hits and scored twice to pace St. Louis, which won for just the second time in its last seven contests. The Cardinals are a game behind Pittsburgh for first place in the NL Central. After Thursday's finale of this four-game series, the Cardinals host the Pirates for three contests.
"That's just a character win, guys just grinding, not giving up and not giving in," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Everybody did their part. Those wins you won't forget."
Brandon Phillips homered and drove in his 100th run of the season in defeat. Bronson Arroyo went seven strong innings for Cincinnati, allowing three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits.
The Reds, who occupy the second wild card spot in the NL, are 3 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh.
Adams broke a 3-3 tie with a no-doubter to right off Alfredo Simon to put St. Louis ahead in the top of the 14th.
The Reds responded with a run back in the bottom of the inning off Cardinals' closer Edward Mujica when Billy Hamilton, pinch-running for Ryan Ludwick, stole second and scored on a Zack Cozart single to center. It was Mujica's third blown save of the season.
The Reds had a golden opportunity to win in the 15th inning. With men at the corners, Chris Heisey missed a bunt attempt. Shin-Soo Choo was caught in a rundown and was tagged out going home.
"He didn't see the ball go past him. At that time he was in nomad's land," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Choo running toward the plate when the ball went past catcher Yadier Molina.
Shelby Miller, who started for St. Louis, ran into trouble early when Choo worked a walk to lead off the bottom of the first before Phillips jumped on the first pitch he saw, ripping a double down the third base line. The Cardinals' right-hander settled down and retired the side around a Jay Bruce walk to avoid any runs.
Cincinnati made the most of its next opportunity when Arroyo sacrificed runners to second and third for Choo, who grounded sharply to second to bring in the game's first run. Miller's wild pitch to Phillips allowed Ryan Hanigan to rush home for a 2-0 lead.
The Cardinals tied the score with a pair of runs in the fourth. Matt Holliday plated Carpenter with a sac fly to center and Joey Votto's errant throw to Arroyo covering first base after diving to his right on a Craig grounder allowed Carlos Beltran to cross home plate without a throw. The runs were St. Louis' first since the third inning of Monday's series-opener.
Phillips was swinging first-pitch once again in the fifth and helped the Reds regain the lead when he took Miller out of the park for his 18th home run of the season.
Carpenter's third hit of the night, a double to right-center, sparked the Cardinals' half of the sixth. Beltran followed with an RBI single to center to tie the game.
St. Louis pitchers had retired 19 straight Reds before Choo muscled a bloop single to center off Tyler Lyons with two outs in the 12th inning, but Phillips struck out, stranding Choo on first.
Phillips became the first Reds' second baseman since Joe Morgan in 1976 to knock in at least 100 runs ... Arroyo laid down three successful sacrifice bunts in his three plate appearances ... Hamilton, who made his major league debut Tuesday night, has entered as a pinch-runner, stolen second and scored in consecutive games to begin his career ... Votto ended 0-for-7 for the first time in his career ... Miller allowed three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings ... Matheny said Craig is being sent back to St. Louis to be examined.