Dominican-born right-hander Johnny Cueto makes his second start of the season with a chance to salvage a series today when the Cincinnati Reds host the St. Louis Cardinals in the finale of a three-game set at Great American Ball Park.

The defending world champion Cardinals have won the first two games of the trio in Cincinnati, including a 3-1 triumph Tuesday when Carlos Beltran hit a solo home run in the first and David Freese added a two-run shot in the sixth.

Kyle Lohse (2-0), who allowed just two hits and a run in 7 1/3 innings in his first start of the year, was impressive again, yielding one run on four hits and one walk over six innings.

Freese finished with two hits, while Lance Berkman, who left the game in the ninth inning with a left leg strain, added two hits, including a triple, and a run scored. Jason Motte struck out one in a perfect bottom of the ninth to record his second save of the year.

Mike Leake (0-1) was touched for three runs on seven hits and one walk over six innings. Joey Votto knocked in the lone Cincinnati run and Jay Bruce tallied two hits in defeat.

Cueto, who turned 26 in February, was a 12-game winner in 2010 and won nine times in 2011 with a stingy 2.31 earned run average in 156 innings.

He opened 2012 with a flourish, pitching seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball in a 4-0 defeat of the Miami Marlins on April 5.

In 13 career starts against St. Louis, Cueto is 4-4 with a 4.94 ERA in 71 innings.

For the Cardinals, lefty Jaime Garcia, a 13-game winner in the last two seasons, makes his second start of 2012 after an 11-5 defeat of Milwaukee on April 6.

He allowed five hits and two runs in six innings against the Brewers, walking two and striking out three.

Garcia carried a 3.56 ERA across 194 2/3 innings last season while winning 13 of 20 decisions.

He is 6-1 in nine appearances against the Reds - seven starts - with a 3.13 ERA.

Cincinnati was 9-6 against the Cards last season.