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Cardinals rout Cueto, Reds to seal sweep

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[August 21, 2014]  ST. LOUIS -- For most of 2014, the St. Louis Cardinals frustrated their fans with a lot of groundouts and not enough runs.

If the past eight games are any indication, that trend is finally reversing.

The Cardinals knocked around Cincinnati ace Johnny Cueto and got seven shutout innings from Lance Lynn to complete a three-game sweep of the fading Reds with a rain-delayed 7-3 win Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.

"I saw lots of good, grinding at-bats tonight," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "We got the big hits when we needed them."

In winning for the seventh time in eight games and improving to a season-high 12 games over .500, the Cardinals (69-57) knocked Cueto out before he could record an out in the sixth. Cueto (15-7) was charged with seven hits and five runs. He walked four and fanned four.

"We think we're going to win every day when Cueto's out there, but you can't have your 'A' game all the time," Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips said. "The Cardinals put some good swings on the ball and found some holes."

Meanwhile, Lynn (14-8) was dealing before a 58-minute rain delay following the seventh inning forced him out. Lynn gave up just four singles, walked two and whiffed five, throwing 62 of his 94 pitches for strikes in beating Cincinnati for the third time this year.

Lynn relished the idea of going up against Cueto, who started the night second in the National League in ERA, trailing only Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I outpitched him and we won the game," Lynn said. "I feel like any time I'm on the mound, we have a chance to win the game. Anyone who doesn't feel that way, that's their problem."

St. Louis drew within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central and also maintained its two-game lead on the San Francisco Giants for the NL's first wild-card spot.

The Cardinals' offense, which led the league in groundball rate and double-play grounders most of the year while ranking last in homers, of late looks like the crew that averaged nearly five runs per game in 2013 while reaching the World Series.

St. Louis is averaging 5.4 runs in the past eight games, scoring at least four in every game. The Cardinals' 10-hit attack Wednesday included contributions up and down the lineup, led by three hits, two runs and an RBI from center fielder Jon Jay.

Jay, who stretched his hitting streak to 12 games with a third-inning single, has 18 hits in his past 35 at-bats.

"We've kept working hard all season," he said of the offense's recent success. "We're getting some breaks and finding some holes."

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Jay started the first two rallies with singles. He scored in the third on a one-out double by left fielder Matt Holliday, then rode home in the fifth when shortstop Jhonny Peralta broke the game open with a three-run double.

Third baseman Matt Carpenter added a sacrifice fly in the sixth. Center fielder Peter Bourjos contributed an RBI double in the eighth, and Jay singled him home for a 7-0 lead.

The Reds (61-66) scored their runs in the ninth off reliever Carlos Martinez on a two-run error by left fielder Shane Robinson and an infield single by pinch hitter Kris Negron. Cincinnati filled the bases with two outs, but closer Trevor Rosenthal retired first baseman Todd Frazier on a fielder's choice grounder for his 37th save in 42 chances.

It was the 10th loss in 12 games for the Reds and their fifth in a row. They had one highlight, as Phillips singled in the seventh for his 1,500th career hit.

"I never thought I'd have 1,500 hits," he said. "I didn't even know I was that close until someone told me the other day."

NOTES: St. Louis manager Mike Matheny decided to flip his rotation for the weekend series in Philadelphia, moving RHP Adam Wainwright up to Friday night's opener and moving RHP Shelby Miller to Saturday night. ... Cincinnati will call up LHP David Holmberg from Triple-A Louisville to start Thursday night when it opens a four-game series with the Atlanta Braves at the Great American Ball Park. That means one of the team's eight relievers probably will be sent down. ... Reds RHP J.J. Hoover set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive loss Tuesday night. He tied Harry Gumbert (1947) and Tom Hume (1980) for the single-season club record for most losses by a reliever.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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