ST. LOUIS (AP) - No matter what happens Wednesday, the Cincinnati Reds still have not won a series in St. Louis since 2006. Nothing much else is going right, either.
Edinson Volquez gave up three home runs and the Reds mustered one run for the second straight game in an 8-1 loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday night.
The defending NL Central champions have dropped four of five, are four games back in fourth place and are below .500 (43-44) for the first time since May 3. They will be trying to avoid a sweep in the finale.
``Nobody's really looking at our record,' second baseman Brandon Phillips said. ``It's all about us going out and playing good baseball and we're not playing good baseball, period.'
The Reds are 0-12-1 in series at 6-year-old Busch Stadium since a three-game sweep June 5-7, 2006.
``It was not a good night for us in any way,' manager Dusty Baker said. ``It was a terrible night, actually.'
Baker dipped below the break-even point, too, with a record of 286-287 in his fifth season with Cincinnati.
``This game frustrates you. I'm frustrated right now,' Baker said. ``The best thing to do is not to talk too much.'
The Reds were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position with five strikeouts, and fanned 10 times overall. Drew Stubbs, back in the leadoff spot, was 0 for 4 with four strikeouts and a walk.
``You try different combination of guys and you just try different things,' Baker said. ``I know one thing, we've got to make more contact. You're not going to hit if you're not making contact.'
Matt Holliday homered twice hours after being picked to represent the National League in the Home Run Derby and Jaime Garcia had another stingy home outing for the Cardinals.
Holliday is not a prototypical home run hitter, totaling 77 the last three seasons and entering the game with just 10 in 62 games. He powered up against Volquez (5-4) with a solo shot in the first and three-run homer in the fifth for his 16th career multi-homer game and first since July 7, 2010, at Colorado.
The Cardinals activated Albert Pujols from the 15-day disabled list before the game but did not use him after putting the three-time NL MVP through an extensive pre-game workout. Pujols beat the estimated timetable for his return from a broken left wrist by a month, emerging on his first day of eligibility from the disabled list, and is expected to start Wednesday.
Holliday and Lance Berkman homered on consecutive at_bats in the first inning.
Berkman leads the league with 23 homers after a drive to right estimated at 452 feet, the longest at Busch Stadium, and with 350 career homers he is tied for fourth with Chili Davis on the career switch-hitter list, trailing only Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray and Chipper Jones.
Jake Westbrook opposes Bronson Arroyo in the series finale. Phillips pointed out the Reds have five games left before the All-Star break to right the situation.
``The second half,' Phillips added, ``no excuses.'
Garcia (8-3) allowed one run and two hits in six innings and is 5-1 with a major league-best 0.94 ERA at home. The left-hander didn't allow a hit until Phillips doubled leading off the fourth, eventually scoring on two groundouts.
The Reds threatened again in the fifth, loading the bases on two walks and a single by Volquez before Phillips grounded into a forceout on a bang-bang play at second after shortstop Ryan Theriot fielded the ball in the hole.
Theriot added a two-run double off Sam LeCure in a three-run sixth that made it 8-1.
Volquez has allowed 22 runs in the first inning, permitting at least one run in half of his 16 starts. He had allowed a total of three homers his previous five starts before giving up three against St. Louis to match a season worst and gave up seven runs, six earned, in 5 1-3 innings.
``He just missed location,' Baker said. ``That's kind of what was happening all night.'
NOTES: Fans booed Phillips in anticipation of his at-bat to start the eighth, then switched to cheers when they recognized former Cardinal Edgar Renteria was pinch-hitting. ... Berkman's homer topped Ryan Ludwick's shot estimated at 450 feet on July 22, 2008. ... Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter has made 53 starts the last two seasons, most in the majors, after missing most of 2007 and '08 with injuries. ... Arroyo is 2-5 with a 5.93 ERA at Busch Stadium heading into Wednesday's start. ... Stubbs batted sixth, seventh or eighth in the previous 10 games and is in a 9-for-57 slump the last 16 games with 23 strikeouts with two extra-base hits and one RBI. He leads the major leagues with 118 strikeouts. ... Five of Berkman's last six hits have been homers. ... St. Louis reliever Mitchell Boggs threw 12 straight balls with one out in the ninth, loading the bases, before striking out pinch-hitter Fred Lewis and Stubbs.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved