Cardinals look to continue dominance of Reds

The St. Louis Cardinals are staying in the NL Central race primarily because they can’t seem to lose to the Cincinnati Reds.

The Reds are 0-8 against St. Louis this season, including 0-5 in their own ballpark. And if a 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Cardinals on Friday night wasn’t bad enough for the Reds, they next face the pitcher they can’t seem to beat.

Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha, who will start Saturday’s game in Cincinnati, dominates the Reds like no other NL starter, going 10-1 with a 2.88 ERA in 18 career games against them, including 16 starts. He’s already 2-0 against them this season, beating them twice in an eight-day span in April.

Wacha is 7-1 with a 2.41 ERA overall this season, with his only loss coming back on March 31.

The Cardinals couldn’t hold onto a 6-4 lead in the ninth inning Friday, but managed to win it in the 10th inning on Jedd Gyorko’s RBI single. It gave St. Louis its 12th straight win against the Reds dating to last season.

The Cardinals needed to win Friday to stay three games back of the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers, who roughed up the Phillies 12-4.

“We’ve got to play good baseball regardless of who’s on the other side,” Gyorko said.

The Cardinals’ success against the Reds is partly explained by Wacha’s domination of them. He’s 9-0 against them the past four seasons, and hasn’t lost to them since Sept. 9, 2014.

“I don’t know what it is,” Wacha said after beating the Reds 4-2 on April 20. “I try not to think about who’s out there. I’m just trying to tag every single team (I face).”

Wacha will be coming off the best start of what has been an All-Star-caliber season.

He took a no-hitter into the ninth inning Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, only to lose it on a Colin Moran line-drive single to right field — on his 111th pitch of the day. Wacha then was lifted after striking out eight and walking two as St. Louis won, 5-0.

“He had it (a no-hitter) in his sights,” manager Mike Matheny said. “(It was a) special day.”

Every time Wacha opposes the Reds seems to be a special day, too, even though most of their top hitters own respectable numbers against him. Joey Votto is 13-for-36 (.361), Eugenio Suarez is 7-for-20 (.350) and Scooter Gennett is 10-for-31 (.323). Only Billy Hamilton (4-for-26, .154) struggles badly against him.

Wacha will oppose Reds right-hander Luis Castillo (4-6, 5.64 ERA), who is 0-2 in his career against the Cardinals, giving up 10 hits and six earned runs in 11 1/3 innings. Castillo yielded three runs and seven hits in five innings while taking the loss in an April 22 start against the Cardinals this season.

Castillo hopes he can continue his success against Cardinals first baseman Jose Martinez, who is 1-for-6 (.167) against him. Martinez hit two home runs Friday night off Reds starter Matt Harvey, giving him three homers in his last two games. Martinez, who is hitting .500 in his last six games overall, is 27-for-75 (.360) in his career against the Reds and 14-for-34 (.412) with three home runs and 12 RBIs this season.

Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman moved Scott Schebler to the leadoff spot and Jesse Winker to No. 6 in the order on Friday. He wanted to create more RBI opportunities for Winker, who hit a game-winning two-run homer in the 13th inning Thursday to beat the Colorado Rockies.

Schebler went 4-for-6 leading off, including a double in the 10th, and Winker hit a game-tying RBI single during the Reds’ two-run rally in the ninth inning.

“I’m going to see if we can roll with this for a little bit,” Riggleman said.