ST. LOUIS (AP) — Cincinnati’s Miguel Cairo has played for nine clubs in his 15-year career so the veteran knows what to look for when he’s down in the count.
Cairo hit a two-out, two-run, go-ahead single in the eighth inning to lift the Reds to a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.
Former Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin gave up a single to left field by Cairo, who behind 0-2 in the count.
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“I was just trying to stay back and see what was coming,” said Cairo, who turns 37 on May 5. “He left it out over the plate and I was just lucky enough to get a hit.”
Cincinnati gave Cairo a two-year deal but Reds manager Dusty Baker acknowledged some doubts about the veteran during spring training.
“He looked old in spring training. I mean, there’s a difference between being old and looking old,” Baker said. “We made a decision really thanks to Scott Rolen. He suggested he’d be a big help to us. When you’re on the fence, it helps to have somebody who knows somebody. You trust their word.”
The slumping Reds had lost seven of nine before snapping St. Louis’ three-game winning streak.
“Every win is a good win against St. Louis or against any team in the National League,” said Cairo, who played with the Cardinals two different times. “You play the game to get a win.”
A throwing error by Cardinals third baseman David Freese led to three unearned runs in the eighth and Miguel Batista (1-1) and two other St. Louis relievers could not pitch around it.
“We were living on the edge because we kept giving them chances and they came through,” Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman said.
Aroldis Chapman (1-0) got two outs in the seventh. Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his third save and No. 293 for his career, tying him with Jason Isringhausen for 22nd all-time.
The game was delayed 42 minutes after seven innings.
Chris Carpenter allowed two hits over six innings, striking out six and walking two in his 300th career start for St. Louis. He had won 10 consecutive starts over Cincinnati, dating back to Aug. 15, 2006, before Saturday’s no-decision.
Travis Wood started and pitched 6 1-3 innings, allowing eight hits and three runs for the Reds.
“I was just battling out there, trying to keep it close,” Wood said.
With one out in the eighth, Freese threw wildly third on a grounder hit by Drew Stubbs.
“We had the lead and momentum; it just didn’t work out tonight,” Freese said. “It turned out to be a big error.”
Batista struck out Brandon Phillips before intentionally walking Joey Votto. Batista hit Jonny Gomes with a pitch to load the bases.
St. Louis manager Tony La Russa lifted Batista for left-hander Trever Miller, but Miller walked lefty Jay Bruce on a full-count pitch to tie the game at 3.
“In that instance, you’ve just got to really grind the at-bat out and not give in,” Bruce said. “He’s trying to get you to chase. That’s what every pitcher does against me more or less. If I don’t chase, I’m usually pretty successful.”
Franklin, who lost his job after four blown saves, relieved Miller and gave up a two-run single to left field by Cairo.
Franklin got out of the inning by getting pinch-hitter Jeremy Hermida to fly out. Franklin walked off the field to a cascade of boos by the fans who stuck around after the delay.
Five Cardinal pitchers combined for five walks and a hit batter to go along with two throwing errors. Cincinnati had just four hits.
The Reds tied the game at 2-all when Votto ripped a 3-0 pitch in the left-field bleachers after Phillips walked with one out in the sixth inning.
Albert Pujols gave St. Louis the lead at 3-2 when he hit a solo home run deep in the left-field bleachers in the sixth. The 437-foot homer tied Pujols for the NL lead with seven homers. He now has 415 in 10-year career. It was his third homer in five home games and six in his last nine.
Freese gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the second with an RBI single and Colby Rasmus made it 2-0 in the third with a sacrifice fly that scored Carpenter, who led off with a double.
NOTES: Ryan Theriot had a throwing error at shortstop in the ninth, his sixth error of the season. … Pujols and Yadier Molina received their 2010 Rawlings Gold Glove awards before Saturday’s game. Sunday, Pujols and Matt Holliday will receive their Louisville Silver Slugger trophies before the game. … La Russa said before the game Jake Westbrook will start Sunday night’s series finale on three days’ rest. It will be for the third time in his career he’s done that and it is the first time since 2001 that Westbrook has gone on three days rest. Baker would not reveal his starter for Sunday. “It’s question mark vs. Westbrook,” Baker said. … The Reds will be playing on a Sunday night for the first for the since they faced the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 8, 2005.