Cardinals take on Arroyo, Reds tonight at Busch

(AP) — The Cincinnati Reds are starting to show some improvement on the road, but manager Dusty Baker isn’t close to fully pleased.

The St. Louis Cardinals certainly aren’t thrilled with their recent efforts at the plate.

The Reds go for a third straight road win by trying to capitalize on the Cardinals’ offensive shortcomings again Tuesday night.

Cincinnati (15-12) is 3-8 on the road, but the team followed Sunday’s 5-2 win at Washington with a 2-1 victory over St. Louis in the opener of this three-game series.

The Reds have hit .254 in those two wins after mustering a .187 average during an eight-game road losing streak. Baker, though, is expecting more from the team that won the NL Central last year.

“We’re far from satisfied,” he said.

The Cardinals (14-11) surely feel the same, on the verge of their first four-game slide since Aug. 28-31.

They’ve been outscored 16-4 while batting .188 over the last three games. Their .154 average with runners in scoring position during that span is a dramatic drop from their major league-leading .327 mark.

St. Louis went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position Monday.

“We were expecting that big hit, especially when we got to two outs,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Those were the things we’ve been doing this season and kind of counting on it happening, and didn’t have it (Monday).

“I don’t see a theme. Guys are going about it the right way.”

Among the struggling Cardinals is David Freese, hitless in his last 16 at-bats. Allen Craig, though, remains a bright spot, posting his fifth multihit effort in eight games Monday and batting .414 with runners in scoring position on the season.

St. Louis may not need much production at the plate with Jaime Garcia (2-1, 2.89 ERA) on the mound. The left-hander is 6-0 with a 2.40 ERA in seven home starts versus the Reds, and his eight overall wins against them are twice as many as any other opponent.

The left-hander didn’t get a decision in the latest matchup April 8, when he allowed three runs with a season-high 10 strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings of a 13-4 victory.

Garcia got his first win since his season debut in a 4-2 victory at Washington on Wednesday, yielding one run and four hits in 5 2-3 innings.

Unlike Garcia, Reds scheduled starter Bronson Arroyo (2-2, 4.24) has not fared well against his opponent Tuesday. The veteran right-hander is 1-6 with a 5.58 ERA in his last 10 starts against the Cardinals, including a 5-1 defeat April 9 as he gave up four runs in six innings.

Arroyo is coming off his worst start of the year, surrendering six runs and nine hits – two homers – in six innings of an 8-1 loss at Washington on Thursday. His previous two starts ended in Cincinnati wins, yielding two runs over eight innings in each one.

Freese is 1 for 12 versus Arroyo and Yadier Molina is hitless in his last 19 at-bats against him. However, over the past three-plus seasons, Matt Holliday has hit .353 with three homers in their matchups while Jon Jay has hit .393.