Adam Wainwright is a contender for the NL Cy Young Award, but he's surely more concerned with increasing the St. Louis Cardinals' lead atop the NL Central.
Wainwright looks to become the NL's first 16-game winner Wednesday night when the surging Cardinals go for their first home sweep of the Cincinnati Reds in almost five years.
Tied with Washington's Jordan Zimmermann for the most wins in the NL, Wainwright (15-7, 2.58 ERA) is also third in the league with 182 strikeouts and his ERA is baseball's fourth-best.
The right-hander has certainly pitched like one of baseball's best while winning his last two starts, allowing two runs with 20 strikeouts in 16 innings. He notched his major-league leading fifth complete game of the season Friday, tossing a six-hitter on a season-high 128 pitches in a 3-1 win over Atlanta.
"He's our horse," manager Mike Matheny said. "Those are the kind of statements your ace loves to make. That was his game."
He's split two starts against the Reds this year despite giving up two runs in seven innings each time. Cincinnati has won four of its last six matchups with Wainwright, including three straight at St. Louis.
The Cardinals (78-54) have won four in a row at home against the Reds and are in position to sweep a series from them at Busch Stadium for the first time since Sept. 26-28, 2008.
St. Louis, 1 1/2 games ahead of Pittsburgh and 4 1/2 in front of Cincinnati for the NL Central lead, has won nine of 11 following Tuesday's 6-1 victory.
Matt Holliday has three hits - one homer - and four RBIs through the first two games of the series. He's driven in a run in seven straight games, batting .346 in that span with three homers and four doubles.
Holliday has hit .393 with 10 RBIs in the past eight meetings with Cincinnati, and he's 8 for 19 in the last two years versus Homer Bailey , the Reds' scheduled starter.
Cincinnati (74-59) has a five-game lead on Arizona for the NL's second wild-card spot, but manager Dusty Baker isn't pleased his team has dropped three in a row.
"A loss is a loss, you've just got to play better baseball," he said. "There are a few things we've still got to learn about playing winning baseball."
"It's my (mistake) definitely," Cozart said. "It was a bad play. You have to keep your head up. When I got to third I was surprised Jay was even there. That was a big part of the game."
Bailey (8-10, 3.71) is 0-5 with a 6.90 ERA over seven career starts in St. Louis. He's lost two visits this year, surrendering 11 runs and 18 hits - four homers - in 10 1-3 innings.
However, the right-hander has been pitching well away from home, going 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA over his past three road outings.
He won the most recent in Milwaukee on Aug. 18, yielding one run and three hits in eight innings of a 9-1 victory, but five days later he gave up three runs in six innings while not getting a decision in a 6-4 home loss to the Brewers.
|August 22, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||60-Day DL||Flexor mass strain, right forearm|
|August 21, 2013||Tony Cingrani||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|August 21, 2013||Jonathan Broxton||Day-to-Day||Left game - elbow|
|August 20, 2013||Tony Cingrani||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained lower back|
|August 08, 2013||Corky Miller||15-Day DL||Right quad contusion|
|August 07, 2013||Corky Miller||Day-to-Day||Right quad contusion|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|August 22, 2013||Jake Westbrook||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|August 15, 2013||Tony Cruz||15-Day DL||Stress fracture, left forearm|
|August 11, 2013||Carlos Beltran||Day-to-Day||Right foot contusion|
|August 07, 2013||Shelby Miller||Day-to-Day||Right elbow contusion|
|July 31, 2013||Shane Robinson||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|July 31, 2013||Yadier Molina||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Cincinnati Reds came out swinging early on Wednesday night.
Jay Bruce homered and had five RBIs and the Reds got a dominant effort from Homer Bailey to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 10-0 and avoid a three-game sweep.
"You never want to get swept, especially against these guys," Bailey said. "Who would have guessed we would have put up that many runs on (Adam) Wainwright?"
The Reds put this one out of reach a few hours after Brandon Phillips ' expletive-filled tirade at a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter sparked by scrutiny of his .310 on-base percentage, and after manager Dusty Baker criticized his team for falling short while dropping four of five.
"Kind of like Dusty says, make sure you kick them when they're down," Bailey said.
The Cardinals lead the NL Central by a half-game over Pittsburgh after losing for the third time in 12 games, and the Reds are 3 1/2 games back.
Bailey capped a six-run first against Adam Wainwright (15-8) with the Reds' sixth hit and his first RBI of the season.
Bailey (9-10) allowed five hits in 7 1-3 innings with seven strikeouts and is 4-0 in his past six starts. He won for the first time in six career decisions at Busch Stadium.
It was Bailey's first scoreless outing since throwing his second career no-hitter against the Giants on July 2.
"Usually, he's been our tough-luck guy, we haven't gotten him many runs," Baker said. "Pitcher has to pretend it's 0-0."
The poor start was out of character for Wainwright, who matched his career worst with nine runs allowed and lasted two innings for his shortest outing of the year.
"You'd like to say you had something to learn in every game," Wainwright said. "Today is just something I'm going to forget about.
"The next start, I'll be fine."
Wainwright had worked at least seven innings his previous eight starts and was coming off a complete game against the Braves.
But both he and manager Mike Matheny said that effort had no effect on what happened against the Reds.
"I mean, what can you say?" Wainwright said. "I pitched terrible and that's why we lost the game."
Baker said he removed Bailey after 117 pitches so he'd be fresh the next time out.
Bailey's next start will also against the Cardinals, this time at home.
"I knew we had a chance because Wainwright had gone 128 pitches the time before, so that's quite a strain on him," Baker said. "That's why I took Homer out. We didn't want to get him in that situation."
Phillips batted second for the first time since opening day. He singled his first two at-bats and struck out his next two trips while going 2 for 5.
Baker said Phillips was a "double leadoff man" and said he may leave Phillips in the second slot depending on the availability of Ryan Ludwick , who's coming off shoulder surgery.
The Reds also got RBIs from Ludwick and Todd Frazier in the first with another run scoring on a wild pitch. Zack Cozart got the first of his three hits when Wainwright failed to cover first.
Phillips singled and Joey Votto walked again to open the second, setting the table for Bruce's 26th homer on a 1-2 pitch. It's his third five-RBI game, one of them against the Cardinals in 2009.
Rookie Michael Wacha was a bright spot for St. Louis, following Wainwright with four scoreless innings and seven strikeouts. Matheny said he could get consideration for an open slot in the rotation.
"Any role they put me in, obviously I'm looking forward to it," Wacha said.
Shortstop Pete Kozma was among four substitutes in the sixth with the Reds still up 9-0, going to left field in his first appearance as an outfielder since July 28, 2007, when he played right field for Class A Gulf Coast.
Chris Heisey put the Reds in double figures with his 10th homer off Fernando Salas in the ninth.
Notes: Votto entered just 3 for 23 with one RBI and one walk against Wainwright. ...The Reds have won three of the past 11 in the series. ... Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter , out all season with a nerve ailment, accompanied the team on its last trip to serve as a mentor after Matheny said he "realized he could bring value." Matheny was hopeful the pitcher would make the next trip, too.