Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips both homered, Mike Leake pitched into the seventh inning and the Cincinnati Reds defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-2, on Saturday.
Bruce hit a two-run blast in the sixth, while Phillips finished 3-for-5 with a solo homer, two RBI and two runs scored. Scott Rolen drove in a pair for the Reds, who re-established a seven-game lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central after dropping the series opener on Friday.
Leake (6-8) allowed two runs on 10 hits over 6 2/3 innings in the win. He struck out three and did not issue a walk.
"Five and seven (games) is a big difference," said Leake. "We just need to come out here again tomorrow and try to do the same thing."
Tony Cruz went 2-for-4 and scored both runs for the Cardinals, who were trying to win five straight games for the first time since June 22-26.
Jaime Garcia (3-5) took the loss in his second start since returning from the disabled list. The lefty was charged with four runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts in six innings.
Brandon Dickson took over for Garcia in the seventh and gave up four runs in the frame.
The rubber match of this three-game set will take place Sunday.
"Every game is tough for us," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "Today was a big day, tomorrow will be a big day and the following...We are very clear with our mission and we have to play good baseball every night."
Dickson recorded two quick outs before Phillips sent his 14th homer of the season over the fence in right field. Ryan Ludwick followed with a base hit and Rolen slapped a two-run single up the middle after a pair of walks loaded the bases.
Dioner Navarro followed with an RBI single to cap the outburst.
Phillips also delivered with two outs in the third inning to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. His soft line drive to center field plated Leake, who led off with his second double of the season.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with one down in the fifth on a trio of singles before Matt Carpenter delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly to right.
Phillips struck again the sixth with a leadoff double, moved to third on Ludwick's single and scored on Todd Frazier's fielder's choice groundout for a 2-1 lead.
Bruce followed with his 27th homer of the year.
St. Louis began the seventh with consecutive singles before Cruz crossed the plate on Shane Robinson's double play groundout.
Garcia hasn't won since May 16. He fell to 7-2 in 12 career games -- 10 starts -- against the Reds ... Prior to the game, Cincinnati retired Barry Larkin's No. 11 jersey. The 12-time All-Star and recent Hall of Fame inductee spent his entire 19-year career with the Reds.