Wacha silences Reds as Cards clinch series

Wacha silences Reds as Cards clinch series

CINCINNATI -- Behind seven scoreless innings from starter Michael Wacha, the Cardinals claimed their second season series in Cincinnati by grabbing a 3-0 win in Thursday's series finale at Great American Ball Park. With the win, the Cardinals climbed to 30 games above .500 for the first time this year.

Wacha extended his scoreless-innings streak to 14 while becoming the National League's second 13-game winner. He scattered four hits, made his eighth seven-inning start of the season and didn't allow the Reds to advance a runner into scoring position with fewer than two outs.

"It's all about getting in that routine out there on the mound and getting in that rhythm," said Wacha, who improved to 3-0 with a 0.89 ERA against the Reds this season. "I found it out there and was able to throw a lot of strikes and get a lot of early outs."

Reds starter Michael Lorenzen labored through five innings, throwing 50 pitches over his final two frames. The Cardinals scored all three of their runs during that span, with RBI singles from reserve catcher Tony Cruz and second baseman Kolten Wong.

"Those are the challenges of young pitchers, is managing pitch counts," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "You can't forget this is his second full year as a starting pitcher in professional baseball, and he's pitching in the big leagues, so it's easy to overlook the fact that he's a very young and inexperienced pitcher."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Striking with two out: The Cardinals scored each of their three runs off Lorenzen with two out. Cruz, making the spot start behind the plate, drove home the first run in the fourth with a single to left. Wong then tallied his 20th and 21st two-out RBIs -- tops on the team -- with a fifth-inning single to center. The Cardinals entered the game ranked 27th in the Majors with 124 two-out RBIs this season. More >

"It's nice to be able to contribute," said Cruz, who snapped an 0-for-14 skid with his hit. "I was just looking for something in the middle of the plate. [Lorenzen] has a good fastball that kind of jumps on you. Luckily, I stayed through it and was able to get a hit."

Wong's two-run single

Scoreless for 18 innings: Jason Bourgeois was able to get within 90 feet of home plate, but Jay Bruce was unable to bring him in, striking out to end the eighth inning. That was the closest the Reds came to scoring on Thursday, finishing the series with 18 straight scoreless frames. They registered only seven hits during that span.

Hustling Heyward: Outfielder Jason Heyward enhanced both of the Cardinals' run-scoring opportunities with stolen bases. He swiped his 17th base of the season after leading off the fourth with a single, then scored on Cruz's single. Heyward took second again in the fifth and scored from there on Wong's single. Heyward leads the club with his 18 stolen bases. He has been caught just twice.

Heyward swipes second base

Lorenzen solid early-on: After a one-hour, eight-minute rain delay before the game, Lorenzen got off to a great start on Thursday. The rookie righty kept the Cardinals hitless until Heyward led off the fourth inning with a single just over a leaping Brandon Phillips into right field.

"I felt good," Lorenzen said. "I thought I threw the ball really well. I competed with everything, and they took some good at-bats." More >

UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The game was paused briefly in the fifth inning due to a crew-chief review to determine whether the Cardinals could challenge a force play at second base in which Stephen Piscotty was ruled out. Though replay showed that shortstop Eugenio Suarez's foot came off the base as he caught a throw from Phillips, the umpires determined that the Cardinals could not challenge the call due to it being a "neighborhood play."

"I think they probably got away with one there, in that there was no play at first base," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Neighborhood play shouldn't be anywhere near the conversation, because there's no double play to be turned."

Piscotty out at second

QUOTABLE
"It was sloppy. One of those rains that wasn't necessarily bothersome enough to stop the game, but it just kept pounding on the field." -- Matheny, on playing through rainy conditions that continued after an initial 68-minute delay

WHAT'S NEXT
Cardinals: The Cardinals will continue their road trip with a three-day stop in Milwaukee. Lance Lynn will start Friday's series opener against Tyler Cravy, who was a late switch to replace Kyle Lohse in the rotation. Lynn has won more games against the Brewers (seven) than any other opponent except the Reds (also seven). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 pm CT.

Reds: The Reds will head out west for a 10-game road trip starting with the D-backs on Friday. Rookie righty Raisel Iglesias (2-3, 5.13 ERA) will get the start in the three-game series opener, looking for his second straight victory. First pitch is scheduled for 9:40 p.m. ET.

Robert Bondy is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.