Reds’ rookie rotation to battle Cardinals’ offense

Published 1:53 am Tuesday, August 4, 2015

CINCINNATI (AP) — After showing signs of an offensive breakout in their most recent series, the St. Louis Cardinals get another shot at a pitcher who played a part in the team’s previous slump.

The Cardinals begin a six-game road trip Tuesday night with a three-game set against the Cincinnati Reds, with Anthony DeSclafani taking mound looking to duplicate last week’s gem against the Cardinals.

St. Louis (67-38) mustered seven runs over a five-game stretch that culminated in back-to-back home shutouts by the Reds, the second of which was a 1-0 loss Wednesday in which DeSclafani yielded three hits and three walks over seven innings.

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The Cardinals got back on track by hitting .326 with six home runs in taking three of four from Colorado over the weekend, with Matt Carpenter accounting for three of the homers.

Carpenter was 7 for 17 with five runs for the series, while Jason Heyward and rookie Stephen Piscotty each went 7 for 14. Piscotty, filling in for injured All-Star Matt Holliday, is batting .462 in an eight-game hitting streak.

Though DeSclafani (6-7, 3.75 ERA) silenced St. Louis’ bats in his last start, the rookie has had his problems in hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park this season.

The right-hander has lost three straight home outings and gave up six runs in each of his last two, covering 11 2-3 innings, to raise his home ERA to 5.69 to go with a 2-5 record in nine starts.

The Reds are seeking better results from the most experienced member of a rotation that’s become very young following the deadline trades of Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake.

Cincinnati (47-56) will be starting a rookie for a franchise-record sixth consecutive game, with DeSclafani’s 25 starts topping a group that includes Michael Lorenzen, Raisel Iglesias, David Holmberg and Keyvius Sampson.

“After the trades with Johnny and Leake, we are in a situation where one rookie is watching a rookie ahead of him who is watching a rookie ahead of him, so it’s a unique dynamic,” manager Bryan Price told MLB’s official website.

The Reds managed six hits in a 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday, giving them a four-game split of the series.

New Cardinal Brandon Moss delivered a pinch-hit walkoff single in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 3-2 victory over Colorado. Moss is 3 for 6 against DeSclafani and hit a two-run homer off him July 18 in Cincinnati while with Cleveland.

John Lackey (9-6, 2.78) was the hard-luck loser while matched up against DeSclafani last week, striking out eight over eight innings and surrendering two hits, one of them a solo home run to Jay Bruce.

It was the latest in a run of strong efforts from Lackey, who’s gone 5-2 with a 1.71 ERA in his last nine starts and pitched at least 6 2-3 innings in all of them.

“It’s not my first time, but yeah I’ve been throwing the ball pretty good,” Lackey told MLB’s official website.

Lackey wasn’t as effective in his season debut at Great American Ball Park on April 10, allowing four runs on a pair of two-run homers to Joey Votto in six innings of a 5-4 loss. He didn’t get the decision and is 2-1 with a 2.78 ERA in six career starts against the Reds.

The Cardinals took two of three in that series and are 6-3 against the Reds this season.