Wacha has seven strong innings, Cardinals shut down Reds

ST. LOUIS — Even with less than his best stuff, Cardinals starter Michael Wacha was good enough to beat the Cincinnati Reds again.

Wacha served a first-inning homer to Joey Votto but did not give up another run in seven innings and Yadier Molina delivered a bases-clearing double to break a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the seventh as the Cardinals beat the Reds 6-1 on Friday night.

The win was Wacha’s second in a week over the Reds and their ace, Johnny Cueto. In eight career outings against Cincinnati, Wacha owns a 2.01 ERA and 3-1 record. He handled the Reds in this game even though his best pitch, his changeup, was not particularly sharp.

"Michael was good, but it wasn’t his typical stuff," manager Mike Matheny said. "The changeup was good, but it seemed like it had a different feel. It was nice to see him figure out a way to pitch with a different style."

Wacha said the key was calming down.

"Early on, I was a little jumpy," Wacha said. "I was just a little too excited out there, leaving some balls up. After the first couple of innings, I was able to settle down and start working down in the zone."

Cueto, winless in three starts, matched Wacha through six innings before the Cardinals broke through in the seventh. With the score 1-1, Matt Holliday led off with a single to right field. He went to third on a one-out double by Jhonny Peralta that landed just in front of left fielder Marlon Byrd and bounced past him.

After Jon Jay was intentionally walked, Molina lined the first pitch from Cueto down the left-field line that scored three.

"There’s no reason to get beat right there by Jay," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "In the end, it’s just the best decision to walk Jay and go after Molina and have an idea of how we want to get the ball on the ground. It just didn’t happen."

Molina said he understood why Price decided to walk Jay.

"That’s baseball," Molina said. "Try to get a good pitch to hit and try to make good contact. Everybody knows I’ve been in the league 12 years and I’m an aggressive guy. It was special, a good moment."

Votto gave Cincinnati a first-inning lead with his fourth homer, his third against St. Louis, before Matt Carpenter tied the game in the bottom of the inning. He doubled, went to third on a groundout and scored when he somersaulted over catcher Brayan Pena on Holliday’s fly to short center.

"I either could run through him or go over him," Carpenter said. "At the last (second), I saw the opportunity to go above him and it ended up working out. I’ve never done anything like that."

RED’S NIGHT

To mark the 70th anniversary of his major league debut, Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst was honored before the game. He batted third, tripled and scored in a 3-2 loss at Wrigley Field and went on to hit .289 in a 19-year career. Schoendienst, 92, remains a special assistant with St. Louis. "With Mr. (Stan) Musial no longer with us, Red’s taken that banner for what a Cardinal looks like," manager Mike Matheny said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds: C Devin Mesoraco (left hip) returned to the club after missing the team’s series in Chicago but was not in the starting lineup. Mesoraco, 2 for 21 for the season, has not played since Sunday and is not likely to return behind the plate this weekend. C Tucker Barnhart was called up Friday and could back up Pena.

Cardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia, trying to come back from last year’s left shoulder surgery, faced minor-league hitters at extended spring training in Jupiter, Florida. He remains weeks away from a possible return, general manager John Mozeliak said.

UP NEXT

Reds RHP Homer Bailey is scheduled to make his 2015 debut when he opposes RHP Carlos Martinez Saturday afternoon. Bailey underwent surgery last September to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm.