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Preview: Cardinals at Reds

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

After losing five of their last six games - all to division rivals Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, the St. Louis Cardinals needed a boost to snap them out of their funk. The Cardinals got that in the form of a 5-4 victory in 16 innings over the Reds on Wednesday and will try to salvage a four-game split with host Cincinnati on Thursday. The victory may have come at a big price, though, as first baseman Allen Craig, third in the National League with 97 RBIs, sprained his left foot.

The Cardinals are within one game of the first-place Pirates in the NL Central, while the Reds are 3 1/2 back but lead Washington by 6 1/2 games for the second wild-card spot. St. Louis starter Lance Lynn was happy to see the calendar flip to September after going 1-4 with a 5.84 ERA in six August outings. He will oppose rookie Tony Cingrani, who pitches for the first time since leaving his Aug. 20 start early because of a lower back strain.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), FSN Ohio (Cincinnati)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH Lance Lynn (13-9, 4.29 ERA) vs. Reds LH Tony Cingrani (6-3, 2.76)

Lynn dropped to 0-4 in his last five starts after allowing seven runs and 10 hits in four innings of a 7-1 loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday. The 26-year-old is 3-0 with a 3.55 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in eight games (five starts) against Cincinnati, including a 15-2 victory on Aug. 4 in which he struck out 11 while allowing two runs and four hits over eight frames. Zack Cozart, who is batting .389 during a nine-game hitting streak, has two home runs among his 14 at-bats against Lynn.

Cingrani, a third-round draft pick by Cincinnati in 2011, threw a bullpen session Tuesday and said, "It's good. Everything is good.'' The 24-year-old defeated St. Louis 8-3 on Aug. 3, when he allowed three runs, four hits and five walks while striking out seven in five innings. The fireballer has recorded 112 strikeouts in 97 2/3 innings, walking only 39 and allowing 65 hits while recording a 1.06 WHIP and .190 batting average against.

WALK-OFFS

1. Matt Adams, who replaced Craig in the fourth inning, hit two solo home runs in extra innings Wednesday - leading off the 14th and 16th. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Adams became the first player in major-league history to hit two home runs coming in the 14th inning or later. His first blast broke an 0-for-17 slide.

2. Cincinnati 1B Joey Votto recorded his first career 0-for-7 performance Wednesday.

3. Brandon Phillips recorded his 100th RBI on Wednesday to become the first Reds second baseman to accomplish that feat since Hall of Famer Joe Morgan collected 111 in 1976. Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt leads the NL with 104 RBIs, followed by Phillips and Craig (97).

PREDICTION: Reds 3, Cardinals 2

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130905/preview-cardinals-at-reds