The Cincinnati Reds have picked a good time to finally find some success against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Reds try to secure their first series victory against their division rivals in over a year as the NL Central clubs play the third contest of a four-game set on Wednesday night in Cincinnati.
The Reds came into this big series having lost 10 of 15 versus the Cardinals this year, but Monday's victory, coupled with a win in the finale of a three- game set last Wednesday, gave Cincinnati its first winning streak over St. Louis since winning four straight last year.
That run included Cincinnati's last series triumph over St. Louis, a three- game sweep at home from July 13-15, 2012, and the Reds pushed their current win streak in this series to three straight with Tuesday's 1-0 victory.
"Maybe the worm has turned, hopefully in our direction," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Billy Hamilton's Major League debut for the Reds highlighted Tuesday night's contest, as he scored the only run of the game after coming on as a pinch- runner in the seventh inning.
Following three pick-off attempts by Cards reliever Seth Maness, Hamilton swiped second base and then scored on Todd Frazier's double to left.
Baker had sent Hamilton out to pinch-run with just one goal in mind. Hamilton set a professional baseball record with 155 steals in 2012 and led Triple-A with 75 this season.
"I haven't been that nervous in a long time in my life," Hamilton said. "When I got on first base, I had chills running down, but I knew I couldn't be afraid. This was a big situation, so I knew I had to get to second base because it was my job, and it happened for me."
While the Reds won for the fourth time in six games, the Cardinals have lost five of their last six and fell two games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates for first place in the NL Central.
St. Louis is also just 1 1/2 games up on Cincinnati as the two NL wild card leaders chase the top spot in the division. The Reds own a 7 1/2-game edge for the league's second wild spot.
Cincinnati looks to lock up a series victory behind Bronson Arroyo, but he is winless in four starts versus St. Louis this season. He has a 5.96 earned run average in the season series while losing three decisions.
That includes a 13-3 loss in Cincinnati on Aug. 2, when Arroyo gave up seven runs and eight hits over 3 2/3 frames versus the Cardinals.
The 36-year-old righty then allowed just seven runs over a four-start winless streak, but had that run snapped on Friday in Colorado. Arroyo lasted a season-low 3 1/3 innings, giving up six runs on nine hits and a walk.
Shelby Miller counters for the Cardinals and is 12-9 with a 3.13 ERA in 26 starts.
Miller capped his August with his worst outing in two months, matching season highs with five runs and eight hits allowed in a loss to the Pirates on Friday.
"I made some mistakes with some pitches and they put good swings on it," the 22-year-old Miller said of his outing, which lasted 4 1/3 innings.
The righty has faced the Reds just once this season, beating Arroyo on Aug. 2. Backed with plenty of support, Miller allowed three runs and struck out eight over five innings.