Cards seek another offensive outburst in home opener vs. Reds

The St. Louis Cardinals' offense put on quite a show on the road ahead of the club's 2013 home opener.

The Cards return to Busch Stadium following a six-game swing out west and they'll begin their home slate with the opener of a three-game set against the rival Cincinnati Reds.

St. Louis dropped two of three in Arizona to begin the season and were then shut out 1-0 on Friday in the opener of a three-game series against the defending champion San Francisco Giants. However, the Cards bounced back with a victory on Saturday before erupting for a nine-run fourth frame in Sunday's 14-3 win to take the series.

The Cardinals sent 14 men to the plate in that game-deciding frame as they chased Giants ace Matt Cain from the game. Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran each drove in two runs in the inning, while Adams and Carpenter combined to go 6-for-9 with five RBI and four runs scored.

That offensive showcase allowed Adam Wainwright to cruise to his first victory of the season. He hurled seven innings of two-run ball and struck out six.

"Pitching against Matt (Cain) you have to take that 0-0 mentality," Wainwright said. "I cracked first and I thought I had to keep it there for us to have a chance. Our offense did an amazing job. Against a pitcher like that you never expect anything like that."

St. Louis' big offensive showing came with third baseman David Freese again out of the lineup after opening the season on the disabled list due to a strained lower back. Freese, though, could be activated prior to Monday's opener after hitting .293 last season with 20 homers and 79 RBI last season.

Taking the ball for the Cardinals in their home opener will be 26-year-old Jaime Garcia, who won the lone game of the series with the Diamondbacks last Tuesday.

Garcia lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing a run on two hits, one a solo homer. He also walked four and struck out four, running his career record in April to 8-2 with a 2.00 earned run average in 15 starts.

The left-hander is 8-2 with a 3.33 ERA in 13 career meetings with the Reds, 11 of those starts.

Countering for the Reds will be Mat Latos, who began his second season with the club with a no-decision against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Wednesday.

Latos, a 25-year-old righty, struck out eight over 6 2/3 innings, but two of the seven hits he allowed were homers. He gave up three runs in total, but was denied a win due to a blown save.

Latos is 2-4 with a 9.00 ERA in seven previous meetings with the Cardinals.

Cincinnati has begun the 2013 season with consecutive series wins, taking two of three from both the Angels and Washington Nationals. The Reds claimed Sunday's rubber match with the Nats 6-3 thanks to a three-run sixth inning.

Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce each had an RBI single in the frame and Bruce ended with three RBI.

"Both sides were scoring early at will. Neither one was sharp. I'm just glad we won the series," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Johnny Cueto earned the win, allowing three runs over six innings. He also struck out six, while Aroldis Chapman worked around a one-out double in the ninth to record his second save of the season.

The Cardinals went 8-7 versus the Reds last season, taking four of six at home.