Pitching on 15 days' rest, Brad Thompson quickly rediscovered his groove.
The stand-in starter worked five effective innings and rookie Nick Stavinoha gave St. Louis another key hit with a two-run, go-ahead double in the sixth inning in the Cardinals' 5-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
"I felt great when I was out there," Thompson said. "But I'm sure I'm going to be sore tomorrow."
Stavinoha has 12 RBIs in only 45 at-bats since a mid-May callup from Triple-A Memphis for the Cardinals, who beat the Reds for the sixth time in seven games at Busch Stadium since last season. Albert Pujols had two RBIs and Ryan Franklin got his 13th save in 14 chances.
"Memphis is a nice place and all," Stavinoha said. "But I like it a little better here."
Bronson Arroyo (7-4) needed 98 pitches to get through five innings with the score tied, and then recorded only one more out in the Cardinals' three-run sixth. Skip Schumaker helped elevate the pitch count, fouling off nine in a 14-pitch at-bat in the third before finally striking out on a full count.
"That took a lot out of him even though he struck him out," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "That's what you urge your guys to do, have tough at-bats even if you're out.
"That's a whole inning in one at-bat."
Slumping Jay Bruce, moved to second in the order for the first time this season, was 0 for 4 and is 1 for 20 in the first five games of a seven-game trip.
Reds pitchers allowed a first-inning run for the sixth straight game. The Cardinals took the lead on Schumaker's leadoff walk, a double by Colby Rasmus and Pujols' run-scoring groundout and Jason Motte (2-1) pitched 1 2-3 innings of relief for the win.
Thompson subbed for Joel Pineiro, whose turn was skipped due to back spasms, and allowed two runs in five innings in his first appearance since throwing three innings of relief May 17. Thompson, whose inactivity seemed to argue against the Cardinals' 13-man pitching staff, stayed sharp with a pair of bullpen sessions during the layoff before becoming the team's eighth starter this season.
The Reds bunched three of their five hits off Thompson while scoring two runs in the fourth, with Laynce Nix and Adam Rosales each getting an RBI. Thompson escaped when he snared Arroyo's smash up the middle with the bases loaded to start an inning-ending double play.
"I felt a little weight in the glove," Thompson said. "I think we would have turned it anyway up the middle but it was nice to just get it done."
Pujols' two-out RBI double tied it in the fifth. Stavinoha, who had entered in a double switch in the top of the sixth, put the Cardinals ahead in the bottom half to chase Arroyo and then scored when Carlos Fisher threw two wild pitches for a 5-2 lead.
Arroyo said he made the pitch where he wanted, down and in.
"That was basically the game," Arroyo said. "I couldn't believe he hit it that far. I've never seen him before."
Stavinoha's drive sailed over the head of center fielder Willy Taveras, slowed by a tight right hamstring that forced him out of the lineup the three previous games. Baker said a healthy Taveras would have made the catch and said he'd start Chris Dickerson in center on Wednesday.
"I thought (Taveras) was in a little better shape leg-wise than that," Baker said. "He can't get to that gear that he has."
Notes:@ Ten of Rasmus' last 13 hits have been for extra bases. ... Pujols drew his major league-leading 17th intentional walk with two outs and a runner on second in the third. No other player is in double figures. ... Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez stole his first base since May 6, 2007 in the fourth. It was only the 14th steal attempt all season off Cardinals C Yadier Molina, who has thrown out five runners. ... Rick Ankiel doubled in the eighth for his second hit in 18 at-bats since coming off the 15-day DL from a bruised shoulder. ... The Cardinals are 18-7 in Thompson's 25 career starts.
(This version corrects to show that Motte, not Thompson, was the winner.) )