Cardinals hit offensive highs, whip Reds 12-4

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Albert Pujols continued his torrid hitting, rookie Jaime Garcia overcame a shaky start, and the St. Louis Cardinals knocked out Bronson Arroyo in the fifth inning of a 12-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, forging a first-place tie in the NL Central.

Pujols extended his streak of reaching base to nine straight plate appearances with two intentional walks and a single his first three times up. He finally made an out in the fifth inning, hitting into a double play. Pujols added an RBI single in a five-run sixth, one day after hitting three homers at Chicago.

Arroyo (5-3) had been 5-0 with a 2.66 ERA in his previous six outings.

Jonny Gomes' two-run single in the first ended a run of 19 scoreless innings at home to start the season by Garcia, a 23-year-old left-hander who began the year as the lone rookie in the rotation but now is one of three due to injuries. Garcia (5-2) benefited from an offense that mustered only six runs in his previous four starts. The Cardinals had a season-high for runs and hits (16) while improving to 16-8 at home.

Arroyo faltered after a rain delay of just over an hour after three innings, coughing up a 3-1 lead and failing to last six innings for only the second time. He had pitched a complete game to beat the Cardinals on May 16 in Cincinnati.

Arroyo retired the first two hitters in the fourth before five straight Cardinals reached base in a three-run rally for a 4-3 lead. Felipe Lopez' two-run double in the fifth made it 7-3 and chased Arroyo.

The Reds had won four of their previous five and were in first place alone for five straight days, a season high. Cincinnati starters had been 10-0 with a 2.55 in the previous 16 games, the longest winning streak for the staff since 1985.

Garcia allowed only an unearned run on four hits the next five innings, and singled twice, walked and scored twice, doubling his season hit total after a 2-for-18 start. Garcia is 2-0 in his last four starts, both wins over the Reds, and leads NL rookies in victories and strikeouts (51) while holding left-handed hitters to a .103 average (4 for 39).

NOTES: The Reds were 18-12 in May, matching their best win total for the month since going 18-11 in 2004. ... Joey Votto (sore neck) missed his sixth straight start but took batting practice and could play Tuesday. Miguel Cairo has started all six games, going 12 for 28 (.429) with two homers. ... Cardinals RHP Kyle Lohse (forearm surgery) will have a soft cast removed on Friday. He's expected to miss at least six weeks. ... Pujols' total of 1,151 RBIs is the fourth best total in major league history for the first 10 seasons, three better than Lou Gehrig. He trails only Al Simmons (1,278), Joe Dimaggio (1,277) and Ted William (1,261).