Reds-Cardinals Preview

Losing two of three to St. Louis wasn’t all that irritated Cincinnati manager Bryan Price about last week’s series with the Cardinals.

Looking to avoid a fifth defeat in six games, the Reds could also deliver some payback from a questionable moment during that series Friday night when the NL Central foes meet at Busch Stadium.

Cincinnati (5-4) opened with four straight wins before falling 4-1 to St. Louis Saturday. In Sunday’s 7-5, 11-inning loss, Price was ejected in the eighth inning while arguing a hit-batter call. Earlier in the contest, Price took exception to Jason Heyward’s hard slide into Reds third baseman Todd Frazier.

”It was a dirty slide by Heyward. We didn’t like it,” Price said. ”They aren’t a dirty team and don’t play like that, but we didn’t like the slide. Todd could have been hurt.

"I’m not happy about that and nor are any of our players."

The Reds did nothing about the play during the contest, but Price indicated there may be a response moving forward.

The Cardinals (5-3), meanwhile, didn’t view the incident as anything more than a baseball play.

"Managers have to stick up for their guys when they think something has happened. I get that," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny told MLB’s official website. "It was a late, hard slide, but I also see that he ended up right on top of the base."

Having dropped two straight series, the Reds’ immediate focus is to find a way to win at Busch, where they’ve dropped eight straight series and 20 of the last 22.

”We’ve got a good enough team to weather the storm and make adjustments and play some good baseball,” losing pitcher Jason Marquis said after Wednesday’s 5-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto (0-1, 0.64 ERA) is 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA in nine starts at St. Louis, but has allowed one earned run overall, and four hits in seven innings in each of his first two outings this season. One of those hits was a tiebreaking homer by Matt Adams in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Cardinals.

Adams is 4 for 11 versus Cueto.

Teammate Yadier Molina is 3 for his last 20 against the right-hander, but went 5 for 8 with two RBIs as St. Louis won its last two over Milwaukee. Molina went 0 for 10 with five strikeouts in the first three games but has batted .421 and fanned twice in the last five.

”When you play every day, you’re going to get that timing back,” he said. ”Right now, I’m in that process.”

After John Lackey scattered five hits and struck out eight over seven innings of Thursday’s 4-0 victory over the Brewers, Michael Wacha takes the mound looking to beat Cueto and the Reds for the second time in less than a week.

Wacha gave up a homer to Frazier and four other hits in 6 1-3 innings Saturday to improve to 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA in six starts versus Cincinnati.

Reds shortstop Zack Cozart is batting .389 in the last five games and is 6 for 14 with a triple and a double versus Wacha.

Teammate Jay Bruce, though, has struck out eight times while going hitless in 16 at-bats against the right-hander.