ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Reds may have finally figured out the secret to beating the Cardinals at Busch Stadium: Don’t let them score.
Jay Bruce homered in the second to back Anthony DeSclafani’s seven innings of three-hit ball, and Cincinnati shut out St. Louis for the second straight night, 1-0 on Wednesday.
The Reds ended a nine-series losing streak in St. Louis and have won consecutive games at Busch Stadium for the first time since July 6 and Sept. 2, 2011. It was the first time Cincinnati won consecutive games in the same series since June 2006.
“When we’ve struggled here, it’s not that we’re getting crushed,” manager Bryan Price said. “We might have the lead in the fifth or sixth inning and they get a three, four or five-run inning that gets them back in the game or gives them the lead, and that’s sort of demoralizing.
“The last two games, they weren’t big leads, but we were able to hold them. The starting pitchers and late-game bullpen guys were able to nail it down.”
Bruce’s 17th home run, which he called one of the oddest in his career, moved him ahead of Barry Larkin into ninth in franchise history with 199 homers.
The high fly to center field landed just beyond a leaping Randal Grichuk and barely cleared the fence before falling back onto the field.
“I think it was actually ruled an inside-the-park home run,” Bruce said. “The umpire after the home run told me that he kept the ball in play the whole time because he thought it was rolling on top of the wall and obviously it wasn’t, it was in the grass by a few inches, but I thought that was interesting.”
DeSclafani (6-7) did the rest, walking three and striking out three. Aroldis Chapman collected his 21st save in 22 opportunities.
“Threw a good mix of pitches in there, I was working well with (catcher Brayan) Pena,” DeSclafani said. “I threw my breaking ball a little more today and I think that made a little more of a difference.”
Price was impressed with the rookie’s resolve.
“What I admire so much about this guy is that he just doesn’t back down to the challenge,” Price said. “To squeak out a 1-0 victory with no margin for error is really very impressive.”
The Cardinals squandered another strong outing from John Lackey (9-6), who gave up two hits in eight innings and has posted a 1.67 ERA during his last nine outings.
“John was great and it was a shame to lose a start like that,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He was as good as we have seen him . one of those starts we have to capitalize on and we didn’t.”
The Cardinals have been shut out for 22 straight innings and have scored in just one of the past 30 innings.
Adding to their problems, outfielder Matt Holliday left the game with a right quad strain after pulling up lame running to first on a double play that ended the first inning. It is the same injury that sidelined Holliday for 31 games earlier this season.
Even though the Reds are still nine games under .500, Price noticed a difference in the clubhouse after finally breaking through on the road against the Cardinals.
“I came in here after the game and I haven’t heard the clubhouse sound this jovial and excited,” Price said. “It’s a team that’s had our number. We’re always sitting at home and watching them play (in October). Nobody likes to do that.”
Cardinals: RHP Jordan Walden (right bicep) began a rehab stint at Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday, pitching two-thirds of an inning in his first work since going on the disabled list on April 30. Walden threw 15 pitches, gave up a hit and a walk and struck out one in a scoreless outing.