(BaseballStL) -- With their bullpen struggling to gain a grip on games late the St. Louis Cardinals were hoping their ace could get his fifth straight win of the season on Monday.
The Cincinnati Reds stymied those plans for Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals offense.
Wainwright surrendered an early 1-0 lead after six pitches thrown in the first inning. It was his first run allowed in the opening inning in six starts. He also issued his second walk of the season in the inning.
The Reds struck Wainwright for another run during a 29-pitch fourth inning for a 2-0 lead. The inning consisted of two hits, including a leadoff single to Brandon Phillips, and an intentional walk, which came after the run scored.
The Cardinals bats couldn’t pick up their starting pitcher due to another strong performance from Mat Latos, who was 2-4 with a 7.88 earned run average in the previous eight games against St. Louis.
The Cardinals threatened to end Latos’ scoreless innings streak, which dates back to a 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins on April 19, after back-to-back hits with two outs in the fifth inning. The streak would survive when Phillips fielded a grounder hit by Allen Craig and then jumped head-first to tag second base for the force out to end the inning.
The two hits in the fifth inning, from Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday, doubled the team’s total hits in the game up to that point.
Latos exited the game after pitching six scoreless innings, which extends his scoreless streak to 17 innings. He allowed only five hits while walking three batters and striking out another four.
Wainwright was pulled from the game after throwing 99 pitches, 65 of which for strikes, in seven innings. He allowed only five hits while walking two batters, including one intentional walk, and striking out six others.
“Definitely as the game wore on I felt more comfortable and more comfortable, better and better,” Wainwright said. “Early on not as sharp. The positive I’ll take away with it was I found my rhythm, I found where I wanted to be on the mound as a pitcher.”
The Reds bullpen, which blew two saves in five previous starts made by Latos, allowed the Cardinals to score in the eighth inning after back-to-back doubles hit by Craig and Molina off Jonathan Broxton.
With the score at 2-1 in favor of Cincinnati and a runner on second with no outs, David Freese hit into a fielder’s choice which extended his hitless streak to 16 at-bats. He would advance to second base while Molina was caught in a run-down between second and third.
The next two batters, Carlos Beltran and Pete Kozma, recorded outs to end the only threat the Cardinals generated against the Reds.
The anemic offense is becoming as big of a storyline as the struggling bullpen has been for St. Louis recently. Since pounding 13 hits and nine runs in a 9-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, the Cardinals have managed to score only four runs on 18 hits in the last three games.
“That’s baseball,” Yadier Molina, who had three of the team’s seven hits, said. “I think yesterday we swung the bat pretty good and we get four base hits. That’s baseball.”
Many Cardinals hitters are struggling. Freese finished 0-for-4 to extend his hitless streak to 16 plate appearances, which matches the current 0-for-16 streak Daniel Descalso is also mired in.
“He had a couple of opportunities. You can really see his frustration when he came back in,” manager Mike Matheny said of Freese, who left three runners on base in the game. “We’re going to have to just sit and keep figuring out how to help him get there.”
The Cardinals will face Bronson Arroyo on Tuesday. Arroyo is 8-14 with a 4.60 earned run average in 34 games played against St. Louis.