(AP) — The Cincinnati Reds are on a tear at the plate, and the St. Louis Cardinals got a first-hand look in their home opener – especially in the ninth inning.
Shin-Soo Choo, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce look to continue their hot hitting Tuesday night when the Reds try to win the first two games of a series at Busch Stadium for the first time in almost seven years.
Cincinnati (5-2) has won five of six after being held to three hits in a season-opening 3-1 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels on April 1.
The Reds aren’t having much trouble at the plate lately, batting .343 with 11 doubles and eight homers over the past four games while outscoring opponents 40-14.
They turned in another big offensive performance Monday, collecting 14 hits with six coming in a nine-run ninth inning to power a 13-4 win over St. Louis (3-4).
Cincinnati will now try to open a series there with back-to-back wins for the first time since sweeping a three-game set June 5-7, 2006.
Choo, Phillips and Bruce may have a say in that.
Choo has flourished in the leadoff spot in his first season with the Reds, hitting .379 with three homers, six RBIs and 10 runs. He got one of his two hits Monday in the ninth, connecting for a three-run double. That helped atone for his pair of embarrassing run-scoring errors earlier in the contest.
“I almost died and my teammates gave me another life,” Choo said. “I really appreciate my teammates, coming over to me and saying everybody makes mistakes.
“I missed two fly balls and in my mind I had to do something to help the team.”
Phillips has helped quite a bit as well, posting his fifth straight two-hit game Monday with a homer and an RBI double. He’s hit .383 in his last 11 games against the Cardinals. Phillips is batting .407 with two homers, four doubles and seven RBIs over the past six games overall.
Bruce, meanwhile, has gone 10 for 21 with three doubles and five RBIs in the last four games after accumulating four singles while driving in a run Monday. The right fielder had one hit over the first three games of the season.
The Reds are scheduled to turn to Bronson Arroyo, who won his season debut Thursday as he allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings of a 5-4 win over the Angels.
“My command was there, I felt like I kept a good tempo of the game,” Arroyo told the team’s official website.
The veteran right-hander is 1-4 with a 6.12 ERA in his last eight starts at St. Louis.
Matt Holliday, who scored both runs on Choo’s errors Monday, has pounded Arroyo over the past three seasons, hitting .375 with three doubles and three homers.
The left fielder has a .356 average against the Reds since joining St. Louis in 2009, and he’s hitting .439 with nine RBIs in the past 10 meetings.
Holliday now looks for a big day to back Lance Lynn, who will try to bounce back from a poor performance in his first start. The right-hander was tagged for four runs and six hits with three walks in four innings while not getting a decision in a 10-9 loss at Arizona on Wednesday.
It was Lynn’s first regular-season appearance after dropping 40 pounds in an effort to improve his durability after struggling at times as a rookie last year, despite winning 18 games.
Lynn was awful in his only start against Cincinnati on Aug. 24, surrendering four runs and six hits in two innings of an 8-5 win.