Mesoraco, Reds power past Cardinals

Devin Mesoraco homered twice and knocked in three runs as the Cincinnati Reds powered their way to an 8-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in the middle test of a key three-game set from Great American Ball Park.

Shin-Soo Choo added a two-run homer and Jack Hannahan contributed a pair of RBI as well for a Cincinnati squad that had dropped six of seven coming in. Brandon Phillips finished with two hits, including a run-scoring double.

Tony Cingrani (5-1) struck out seven over five-plus innings and worked around five walks to pick up the win, though the rookie was charged with all three St. Louis runs.

Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook (7-6) also struggled with his command, issuing five walks and permitting five runs in his five-inning stint.

St. Louis produced 13 runs in winning each of its last two outings, including Friday's series opener, but managed just four hits in losing for the eighth time in 10 games.

"We had two opportunities [to score], but we had trouble picking [runners] up," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

The Cardinals' offense picked up right where it left off early in this one, as Carlos Beltran followed a leadoff walk to Jon Jay with a double into the gap in right center that gave the Cardinals a 1-0 edge two batters into the contest.

Cingrani settled down, though, stranding Beltran at third with none out and permitting just one more hit -- a David Freese double in the fourth -- until Matt Holliday opened the sixth with a two-base hit down the left-field line.

By that time, the Cardinals were trailing by a 5-1 count.

Cincinnati responded to St. Louis' quick run with a two-spot in its half of the first. The Cardinals opted to intentionally walk Jay Bruce in favor of facing Hannahan with the bases loaded and two out, but the backup infielder made the move backfire by dropping in a soft liner to center that brought in two runs and put the Reds in front.

"When I gave up that one [run] I was pretty angry with myself," said Cingrani. "Then Jack comes up with that big hit and we're up 2-1 right there and I've just got to hold them."

Westbrook retired the next nine Cincinnati batters after the hit, but walked Zack Cozart with two out in the bottom of the fourth and Mesoraco crushed the ensuing pitch into the stands in left to increase the lead to 4-1.

Phillips made it a four-run advantage an inning later, following a walk to Joey Votto with a double off the center-field wall.

The Cardinals finally got something going again off Cingrani in the sixth, loading the bases with none out on Holliday's double, a walk to Freese and Daniel Descalso's single. Phillips made a diving stop on Rob Johnson's hard smash to second for a force out that brought home Holliday but prevented any additional damage, though Freese did cross the plate on Matt Carpenter's subsequent grounder to bring St. Louis within 5-3.

"We got some really good offense today and some good defensive plays out there," said Cingrani afterward.

The Cardinals got no closer, however. Relievers Manny Parra and J.J. Hoover each set down the side in order in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, and Cincinnati put the contest out of reach in the bottom of the eighth.

Mesoraco achieved his first career multi-homer game with a leadoff blast against Michael Blazek, who then walked Todd Frazier before serving up Choo's shot into the right-field seats that capped the scoring.

Game Notes

Cincinnati pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts on the night ... Mesoraco's first homer was only the fifth allowed by Westbrook in 98 1/3 innings pitched this season ... Carpenter went hitless in two at-bats after entering the game in the sixth and is mired in an 0-for-20 slump ... The Reds made one roster move before the game, recalling pitcher Pedro Villarreal from Triple-A Louisville and optioning right-hander Curtis Partch to the minors ... St. Louis fell to 4-29 when scoring three or less runs this season.