After nearly a week's worth of offensive futility, all finally seems right with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals (64-44) fell out of first place in the NL Central during a season-worst seven-game losing streak in which they totaled 10 runs while batting .183 with 59 strikeouts in 235 at-bats. St. Louis avoided a five-game sweep to Pittsburgh - which overtook it atop the division - with a 13-0 whitewashing on Thursday before continuing its rampage Friday at Great American Ball Park with a 13-3 rout of the Reds."Our guys put so much pressure on themselves," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said after his team pulled within one-half game of the Pirates. "They're perfectionists. It was frustrating for a quite a few days. It was good to see some energy. I hope we can keep riding it."
Far and away the majors' best team hitting with runners in scoring position (.337), St. Louis has gone 13 for 28 in such situations in its back-to-back wins after going 10 for 47 during its skid. Allen Craig went 2 for 2 in those instances Friday, boosting his major league-leading average to .476 (50 for 105), and also added a two-run homer.
Cingrani (4-1, 2.90 ERA) will try to hold down Craig and the Cardinals and continue his solid run. The rookie is 1-1 with a 2.03 ERA in five starts since rejoining the rotation last month, striking out 33 in 30 1-3 innings while holding opponents to a .163 batting average.
The left-hander, though, had nothing to show for the best start of his career Sunday at Chavez Ravine, holding the Dodgers to one hit and one walk over seven innings while matching a season high with 11 strikeouts in Cincinnati's 1-0, 11-inning defeat.
"I don't really care about my win-loss record. I'd rather just get a win," he told the team's official website. "I had my fastball working. I was just moving it, basically, up and in the whole time. I threw some good sliders. It was a good day."
Cingrani's only appearance versus St. Louis came in a relief role to close out last year as he gave up two hits and one walk in two-thirds of an inning.
Cincinnati (60-50) knows all about offensive struggles, having scored only 12 runs and hit .178 while losing six of seven. Joey Votto accounted for the offense Friday night with a three-run homer, and he has driven in five of the Reds' seven runs the past two games.
Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook (7-5, 3.18) wouldn't object to another offensive outburst as he seeks his third win in four starts. The right-hander's career-long struggles in Pittsburgh continued Monday, when he gave up a three-run homer to Pedro Alvarez and four first-inning runs in his first 10 pitches of a five-inning stint in a 9-2 loss that dropped him to 0-6 there.
Westbrook threw a five-hitter against the Reds on April 10 for his fourth career shutout in a 10-0 romp. Chris Heisey is 6 for 16 with three solo homers against Westbrook, while Votto is 5 for 15 with two doubles.
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|July 31, 2013||Shane Robinson||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|July 31, 2013||Yadier Molina||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|July 30, 2013||Yadier Molina||Day-to-Day||Strained right knee|
|July 12, 2013||Matt Holliday||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|July 12, 2013||Matt Holliday||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|July 02, 2013||Matt Holliday||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck/back|
|July 20, 2013||Derrick Robinson||Day-to-Day||Sore left shoulder|
|July 10, 2013||Ryan Hanigan||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|June 29, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right lat|
|June 28, 2013||Johnny Cueto||Day-to-Day||Left game - tight right lat|
|June 14, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor mass strain|
|June 01, 2013||Johnny Cueto||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Heading into the second game of their series against the St. Louis Cardinals, manager Dusty Baker knew his struggling Reds couldn't wait much longer to break out of their week-long funk.
"We need to beat these Cardinals," Baker said. "We can't have them thinking they can just throw their gloves out there and beat us."
This time, the Reds applied the beating.
Devin Mesoraco drove in three runs with a pair of homers, and the Reds finally broke out against a St. Louis team that has held them down all season, beating the Cardinals 8-3 on Saturday night to even their series.
The Reds won for only the fourth time in 11 games between the NL Central rivals. Cincinnati had scored fewer than four runs in each of their last nine games head-to-head.
"It's pretty big," left-hander Tony Cingrani said. "We've been on a pretty rough stretch."
And not just against St. Louis. The defending NL Central champions are mired in third place because their offense has gone missing, scoring four or fewer runs in each of the last seven games. Jack Hannahan singled home a pair of runs in the first inning, and the Reds were back in the swing.
"That calms everybody down," Mesoraco said. "Now you're coming back, you feel good and confident."
Cingrani (5-1) and four relievers contained an offense that had scored 26 runs in the last two games, allowing four hits.
Jake Westbrook (7-6) gave up five runs - all with two outs - in five innings. Hannahan singled with the bases loaded in the first inning. Mesoraco's homer in the fourth made it 4-1.
The catcher hit a solo shot in the eighth off Michael Blazek for the first multihomer game of his career. Shin-Soo Choo followed with a two-run homer off Blazek.
The Cardinals ended a seven-game losing streak by beating the Pirates 13-0 on Thursday, then came to Cincinnati and drubbed the Reds 13-3 on Friday night. It was the first time since 2003 that they scored 13 runs in back-to-back games.
They got off to a fast start against Cingrani, making his first career appearance against the Cardinals. Jon Jay opened the game with a walk and came around on Carlos Beltran 's double. Cingrani bounced his next pitch, letting Beltran move to third, but that's all the Cardinals would manage as the left-hander escaped the 30-pitch inning down only 1-0.
Cingrani left after the Cardinals loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth. Grounders by Rob Johnson and pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter drove in runs that cut it to 5-3.
Westbrook threw a five-hitter for a 10-0 win over Cincinnati on April 10. He lost his shutout right away this time. Westbrook gave up a hit and a pair of walks in the first, including an intentional walk to Jay Bruce that brought up Hannahan with the bases loaded and two outs. Hannahan, who was 0 for 4 career against Westbrook, lined a 2-2 pitch to center for a 2-1 lead.
"The hit of the game was the two-out hit by Jack Hannahan ," Baker said. "It was nice to see some of the guys swinging that way tonight. It looked pretty good tonight."
It was the second game in a row that Westbrook had trouble in the opening inning. He gave up four runs in the first inning of a 9-2 loss in Pittsburgh on Monday.
"I couldn't finish off innings," Westbrook said. "I'd get a couple of quick outs and I couldn't put them away. That was a subpar performance for me. I felt like I pitched better today than in my last start. I was making decent pitches."
Mesoraco's homer was only the fifth that Westbrook has allowed in his 16 starts this season.
Westbrook walked five batters in five innings, and three of them scored. Joey Votto got the second of his three walks with two outs in the fifth and came around on Brandon Phillips ' double.
Notes: Carpenter (0 for 20) and Reds 3B Todd Frazier (0 for 25) were out of the starting lineups. Carpenter got into the game as a pinch hitter. Frazier got in as part of a double switch. Neither got a hit. ... The Reds optioned RH reliever Curtis Partch to Triple-A Louisville a day after he struggled in the series opener. RH Pedro Villarreal was called up for the third time. ... RH Jonathan Broxton (elbow) threw 14 pitches in the bullpen without problem. He'll throw again on Sunday and could be activated off the DL next week. ... Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick threw a ceremonial pitch.
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