CINCINNATI — Lance Lynn is in his worst slump of the season, and he’s not sure why.
Todd Frazier hit two homers, including the first of Cincinnati’s three off Lynn, and the Reds recovered from a 16-inning loss by overpowering the St. Louis Cardinals 6-2 on Thursday night, taking three of four in their final series of the season.
Jay Bruce and Shin-Soo Choo also hit solo homers off Lynn (13-10), who lasted five innings and gave up three homers for only the second time in his career.
“It’s definitely not fun, especially with the stuff I’ve had lately,” Lynn said. “I think it’s some of the best I’ve had all year. It’s frustrating.”
Lynn had already beaten the Reds three times this season, but is going through a rough time lately. The right-hander has lost his last four starts, giving up 19 runs in 23 innings.
“It was kind of baffling,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “You would see him make really good pitches and work ahead in the count and get quick outs, and the next thing you know, they’re hitting the ball hard. You see him make terrific pitches and get two outs, and the next thing you know, he’s catching too much of the plate and they’re not missing.”
The only other time in his career that he allowed three homers in a game was June 14, 2012, at Kansas City.
Frazier also connected off Seth Maness for the third multihomer game of his career. The four homers overall equaled the most given up by the Cardinals this season. Pittsburgh hit four on April 28.
By winning their final series together, the Reds tightened the NL Central race and ended the Cardinals’ dominance. St. Louis had won the last seven series between them. Cincinnati’s lone loss was 5-4 in 16 innings on Wednesday night.
“That was a big series right there,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “That game last night still hurts, but that’s OK. We’ve got a resilient team. I don’t think anybody slept last night.”
Left-hander Tony Cingrani (7-3) returned from a sore back and did a little bit of everything. He pitched into the sixth inning, gave up two runs, bunted for a hit, stole a base and scored.
David Freese homered for the Cardinals, who have lost six of eight. With first-place Pittsburgh idle, the Cardinals slipped to 1 1/2 games behind the Pirates while the Reds moved to 3 games out.
The Cardinals have scored two runs or less in each of those six recent losses, getting shut out three times.
“It’s the time of the season,” Matheny said. “There are times when you don’t hit. This has lasted a little longer than you’d like, but that could be a sign that we’re ready to click and take off.”
The Cardinals got some encouraging news before the game. Cleanup hitter Allen Craig has a sprained left foot, but nothing is broken.
Allen twisted the foot while rounding first base on Wednesday night. Initially, the Cardinals feared it was broken — X-rays were inconclusive. He flew to St. Louis for an MRI and more X-rays that ruled out a fracture. He’s expected back at some point during the season.
Cingrani had to leave his start on Aug. 20 because of a strained lower back. He returned on Thursday and showed there was nothing wrong.
Cingrani beat out a bunt for a single in the second inning. He stole second base off catcher Tony Cruz — the first steal by a Reds pitcher since Bronson Arroyo in 2008 — and came around on a wild pitch and Brandon Phillips’ infield single.
Phillips was taken out hard at second base while completing a double play in the sixth. He left an inning later as a precaution with a sore left thigh.
Notes: Cruz was in the lineup after recovering from a stress fracture in his left forearm that landed him on the DL on Aug. 15. … Baker said C Devin Mesoraco has a sore hamstring, limiting his availability. That’s why No. 3 catcher Corky Miller got in before Mesoraco during the 16-inning loss. … Reds SS Zack Cozart extended his hitting streak to 10 games. … The Cardinals headed home for their final series against Pittsburgh. Joe Kelly (7-3) starts on Friday against A.J. Burnett (7-9). The Reds remain home, opening a series against the Dodgers. Mike Leake (11-6) faces LHP Chris Capuano (4-7).