CINCINNATI (AP) - Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto homered as Cincinnati roughed up Adam Wainwright for the second start in a row Monday, leading Mat Latos and the Reds to a 7-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of a four-game series between the NL Central rivals.
Latos (14-5) gave up four hits, including a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly by Matt Holliday, in his first complete game of the season and the fourth of his career.
The third-place Reds are trying to break the Cardinals' season-long dominance. St. Louis has won the last seven series between the teams. The Cardinals are 10-6 against Cincinnati this year.
The Cardinals took two of three in St. Louis last week, the only loss coming when the Reds tagged Wainwright (15-9) for nine runs in a career-low two innings. They had his number again on Monday, piling up six runs and 10 hits in six innings.
It's an important series for Cincinnati, which now trails the Cardinals by 2 1/2 games. St. Louis opened the day tied with Pittsburgh for first place. The Reds maintain a comfortable lead for the final NL wild-card spot.
The last time the Cardinals visited Great American Ball park, they won by scores of 13-3 and 15-2 during a one-sided series that left the Reds embarrassed. This one started much better for them.
Wainwright fell to 5-9 career against Cincinnati. In his last two starts against the Reds, the right-hander has given up 18 hits and 15 runs in only eight innings. He's 1-3 in four starts against Cincinnati this season with a 7.77 ERA.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina came out of the game in the fifth inning because of a sore left wrist. He was activated off the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 15 after missing 14 games with a sore right knee.
The Reds quickly got to Wainwright. Choo opened the first with a single and scored on Ryan Ludwick's two-out single. Ludwick missed more than three months with torn cartilage in his right shoulder, but the left fielder is starting to get his swing back in shape. Ludwick has driven in a run in each of his last four games.
Zack Cozart singled home a run in the second, and Choo's two-run homer made it 4-0. Choo leads all major league leadoff hitters with 19 homers. He has three homers during a six-game hitting streak, which includes four multihit games.
Votto hit an up-and-away 1-2 pitch to the opposite field in left for his 21st homer in the fourth inning.
NOTES: Cardinals RF Carlos Beltran's back was still sore on Monday, prompting manager Mike Matheny to keep him out of the starting lineup for a second straight day as a precaution. ``Instead of trying to push him through, we've tried to pay attention to how he feels,'' Matheny said. ``That should pay dividends in the long run.'' ... St. Louis 1B Matt Adams extended his slump to 0 for 14. ... The Reds called up OF Billy Hamilton and INF Neftali Soto and activated C Corky Miller off the 15-day DL before the game. ... Homer Bailey (9-10) tries to extend his winning streak - 4-0 in his last six starts - against the Cardinals' Michael Wacha (2-0), who makes his fifth career start.
Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay