for this game

Reds go after another win over NL Central-leading Cards

Sep 10, 2014 - 3:04 PM ( - And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The St. Louis Cardinals saw their recent momentum halted with a loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night, but they'll have a chance to return to recent success on Wednesday night when the teams continue with game three of a four-game set at Great American Ball Park.

The loss was little more than cosmetic damage for the Cardinals, who maintained a 4 1/2-game lead in the National League's Central Division when second-place Pittsburgh was beaten in Philadelphia. Third-place Milwaukee also failed to gain ground, losing to Miami.

"One of those days when you're fighting just to stay in it," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.

The win was the 17th in 50 games for the Reds since the All-Star break and raised Cincinnati to 4-10 against the Cardinals in the 2014 season series. St. Louis is 40-25 against division foes this season.

Right-hander John Lackey takes the mound for the visitors with a chance to shake off the effects of his last outing, which resulted in a 6-2 loss to Milwaukee on Friday after he was touched for six runs and nine hits in six innings.

In four previous starts, his earned run average had been below 2.50.

"Kind of a weird one," Lackey said. "I felt like I threw better than the line score. I had pretty good stuff. They got a couple big hits and I had a little bit of bad luck."

The veteran has lost two decisions in three road starts since arriving from the Boston Red Sox in July. He was nicked for four runs in six innings in an Aug. 19 matchup with the Reds that the Cardinals ultimately won, 5-4.

Cincinnati goes with righty Alfredo Simon, who allowed six runs in four innings of a 14-5 loss to the New York Mets on Friday, continuing a drastic personal skid in the second half.

He was a replacement addition to the NL All-Star team, but is 1-7 since with a 5.27 ERA.

Simon was opposite Lackey in the Aug. 19 game and allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings.

On Tuesday, Devin Mesoraco went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI, and the Reds topped St. Louis, 9-5.

Cincinnati knocked around a recovering Michael Wacha and used a quality start from Mike Leake to earn its second win in eight games this month. Leake (11-11) lasted six-plus innings and scattered eight hits and three runs, while Brandon Phillips knocked in a pair during a pivotal four-run fifth.

Wacha (5-6) allowed six runs -- five earned -- on six hits and three walks and was pulled without recording an out in the fifth. The reigning NLCS MVP was making his second start since coming off the disabled list.