ST. LOUIS -- Back at Busch Stadium with a chance to pull even with the Giants and inch closer to a sixth straight playoff berth, the Cardinals instead elicited boos from the typically affable home fans with one of their ugliest performances of the season. They looked little like a team ready for postseason play in a 15-2 loss to the Reds to open a seven-game homestand on Monday night.
The Cardinals fell further back in the National League Wild Card race that the Mets still lead with six days remaining in the regular season. New York, which also lost on Monday, holds a 1 1/2-game lead over the Cardinals. The Giants, who were idle, sit one game ahead of St. Louis.
"That wasn't good. That's not what we were looking for," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "You never want to be embarrassed, and that's an embarrassing loss."
The Reds, who scored 15 runs for the first time since July 30, 2015, also tallied a season-high 22 hits, including five from outfielder Steve Selsky. Adam Duvall added a career-high five RBIs in his third career two-homer game, while Brandon Phillips matched his career best with a four-hit game. The 22 hits were the most by a Reds team since June 13, 2003.
Cincinnati's offense pounced early as the Cardinals shuffled through pitchers. Starter Jaime Garcia was out after allowing two home runs in the first inning. Behind him, Michael Wacha allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. Luke Weaver, who had just been removed from the rotation, followed with five runs allowed in two-thirds of an inning.
"No excuse," Garcia said. "I feel good physically. I'm making mistakes, and they're squaring the ball right now. It's a tough break for me right now. I'm disappointed in myself because I didn't get the job done. I wasn't there for my team."
Cincinnati broke the game open with a seven-run fourth in which 12 batters came to the place. Seven straight reached at one point, and two (Selsky and Tucker Barnhart) collected two hits in the inning. Of Selsky's five hits, four drove in runs. Every starting position player in the Reds' lineup tallied at least one hit.
All that support allowed starter Tim Adleman to cruise during his career-high seven-inning start. He retired the first 10 batters he faced and allowed just four hits.
"It's a huge credit to this offense the way they swung the bats against a quality starter on a team that's fighting for a playoff spot in their home ballpark, is really impressive," said Adleman, who did not walk a batter and struck out four. "It really made my job a lot easier. Kudos to them."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Homers set tone: Votto and Duvall got the scoring parade started with back-to-back homers against Garcia in the first. For Votto, his shot on a 2-0 pitch, was his 27th of the season. Duvall hit a 1-0 pitch to left field, but was far from done. He later added an RBI single in the seven-run fourth inning, a three-run homer in the fifth and a single in the seventh that gave him a career-best four hits and five RBIs, along with 33 homers and 100 RBIs.
"That's one of the goals I had," Duvall said of reaching 100 RBIs. "I guess you can say, looking at the end of the season, trying to put some pressure on myself to try to drive in some runs, so it was good to get that mark. Now, I just want to see how many I can get."
One and done: Unwilling to let the game unravel under Garcia's watch, Matheny pulled the lefty after one inning. It was the shortest start of Garcia's career, replacing the 1 2/3-inning performance in his previous start on Sept. 13. The night unraveled for the Cardinals anyway, and Garcia's ERA over his last seven starts ballooned to 8.58. He's not assured of another.
"Everything happened so fast," Garcia said. "I felt good. But at the same time, I respected [Matheny's quick hook], and I understand that we're trying to win each game. It's a very important time in the season for us right now."
Selsky with five hits: A rookie reserve outfielder, Selsky kept the pressure on St. Louis with his leadoff homer to right-center on a 1-0 pitch vs. Wacha in the second inning and then went on to have a career-high four hits and three RBIs through the first five innings. His RBI singles in the fourth inning and fifth inning scored Phillips both times. A two-out single in the seventh scored Duvall and made Selsky the first Reds batter with a five-hit game since Jay Bruce on June 17, 2015, vs. the Tigers, and the first Reds rookie to do it since Wade Rowdon vs. the Mets on July 9, 1986.
"You get opportunities and you put good swings on good pitches, and hopefully good things happen," Selsky said.
Wacha wobbles: In what could have been an audition for a starting spot later in the week, Wacha had as rough a night as any Cards pitcher to make an appearance. Making his third relief appearance since returning from a shoulder injury, Wacha served up a homer on the second pitch he delivered. It would be one of nine hits allowed in his 60-pitch outing.
"They don't happen for anybody. You just don't go out there and get 22 hits and 15 runs, especially against a team like St. Louis that does so many things so well. You have to relish them when they come, they're few and far between -- these types of offensive eruptions. We'll enjoy it. Certainly they're going to come back and be ready to play tomorrow with Wainwright on the mound." -- Reds manager Bryan Price, on his club's big offensive output
"New day tomorrow. We have to put it behind us. Six more. I guess the positive side is New York lost. Hopefully, we'll come out and put on a better performance tomorrow." -- Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Cardinals had a notable attendance streak snapped on Monday as the club did not draw at least 40,000 at Busch Stadium for the first time since Sept. 24, 2013. The streak spanned 240 games. Monday's announced attendance was 34,942.
In the first inning, Reds runner Jose Peraza was initially ruled safe on a stolen base attempt at third base. The Cardinals challenged, and after a brief review, the call was overturned because Peraza did not maintain contact with the bag as third baseman Jhonny Peralta applied the tag.
WHAT'S NEXT Reds: Rookie Robert Stephenson is seeking some positive momentum when he starts on Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. ET. Since returning from Triple-A Louisville this month, Stephenson is 0-2 with a 7.41 ERA in four starts. This will be his first time facing St. Louis.
Cardinals: Looking to bounce back, the Cardinals will give the ball to ace Adam Wainwright on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Wainwright, who will be pitching on six days' rest, is winless in three starts against Cincinnati this season.