Now that their season-long losing streak is in the past, the St. Louis Cardinals can focus on winning again. The Cardinals will begin the last leg of their road trip with Friday's opener of a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds.
The Cardinals were 0-7 on the trek until posting a 13-0 blasting of the Pittsburgh Pirates Thursday in the finale of a rare five-game set. An eight- run seventh inning put the game away, while Joe Kelly threw six scoreless innings for the win.
"It's definitely a change in attitude and a change in atmosphere and a good way to leave here," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of ending the skid.
Allen Craig, Jon Jay and Tony Cruz finished with two RBI apiece. Jay also scored three times and both Craig and Matt Holliday crossed the plate twice for the Cardinals, who are 1 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh for the NL Central lead. The Cards and Reds both occupy the two wild card spots.
St. Louis will resume its NL Central tour with Shelby Miller on the mound Friday and he is 10-7 with a 2.79 earned run average in 20 starts. He was 2-0 in three outing until a 5-2 loss at Atlanta on Sunday, when he yielded three runs -- two earned -- in 5 2/3 innings.
Miller, a right-hander, faced the Reds once in his career and did not record a decision even though he struck out seven batters through six scoreless frames of a 1-0 victory last Oct. 3.
The Reds are back at Great American Ball Park for eight games and went 5-6 on their recent sojourn. They stopped a five-game slide with Wednesday's 4-1 win over the San Diego Padres in the finale of a three-game set, as Homer Bailey delivered seven K's and gave up one unearned run in 8 1/3 innings.
Aroldis Chapman got the last two outs in the ninth for his 25th save.
"We battled and battled, and Homer gave us all we needed," Reds manager Dusty Baker said afterward.
Brandon Phillips had three hits, including a home run, and Joey Votto knocked in two runs for the Reds, who are 5 1/2 games out of the NL Central lead. Reds center fielder and leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo was out of the lineup Wednesday because of a sore left ankle and is day-to-day.
Kicking off the homestand on the mound for Cincinnati will be Bronson Arroyo, who is 9-8 in 21 starts with a 3.26 earned run average. Arroyo had won two straight and three of four starts until Saturday's 4-1 defeat at Los Angeles, where he was reached for three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Arroyo, a right-hander, was coming off a shutout at San Francisco on July 22. He has faced the Cardinals plenty of times in his career, going 8-15 with a 4.49 ERA in 36 games, 34 of which have been starts.
The Reds haven't played well against St. Louis this season and are just 3-6 in the nine matchups between the division foes.The Cardinals have won four of the last five games in this series.