Southpaw probz: Left-handers still giving Cardinals fits

The St. Louis Cardinals may be running away with baseball's best record, but they have been susceptible to left-handed pitching.

They have had trouble scoring runs recently versus Cincinnati, and Reds starter David Holmberg has enjoyed success against several Cardinals' hitters entering the middle game of this series.

St. Louis (67-39) is 14-14 when opponents have started lefties and was blown away in the ninth inning Tuesday by Aroldis Chapman -- who converted his 56th straight save at home -- in a 3-2 defeat to see its average against southpaws dip to .238.

Mark Reynolds is hitting .213 against lefties, Kolten Wong is at .233 and Matt Carpenter is batting .238. Jhonny Peralta (.243) and Yadier Molina (.253) have fared slightly better. Lefty-swinging Jason Heyward leads the club with a .300 mark against them and Randal Grichuk is at .294.

Holmberg (1-0, 3.00 ERA) could be poised to take advantage of those woes after going 0-1 with a 1.54 ERA in a start and relief appearance against St. Louis in 2014.

Molina is 1 for 6 in this matchup, Carpenter is 1 for 4 and Peralta is 0 for 4, though Grichuk has a homer in three at-bats.

Holmberg enjoyed a successful season debut Thursday when he gave up two runs over six innings in a 15-5 rout over Pittsburgh as he has taken the place of the departed Johnny Cueto in the rotation.

The Cardinals lost two of three at home to the Reds (48-56) last week, getting shut out twice in a series which featured 10 total runs. The low-scoring nature of this matchup continued Tuesday -- Cincinnati got run-scoring doubles from Marlon Byrd and Jay Bruce in a three-run first inning and gave up two runs in the third before holding on.

"It's unfortunate, the damage that was done there in the first," Cards manager Mike Matheny said

Cincinnati has taken five of its last seven while playing the NL's top teams -- St. Louis and Pittsburgh.

"It's fun playing the Cards and Pirates," center fielder Billy Hamilton said. "We get so motivated playing those guys."

The Reds hitters may not be too motivated to step into the batters' box Wednesday against Carlos Martinez (11-4, 2.61), who starts for St. Louis after going 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two April outings versus Cincinnati.

The three runs allowed by Martinez in those games came on homers by Bruce, Hamilton and Zack Cozart, who is currently injured. Bruce is hitless in his other eight at-bats versus Martinez, Joey Votto is 0 for 6 against the right-hander and Brandon Phillips and Todd Frazier each have gone 2 for 12 while combining for 10 strikeouts.

Martinez posted a 1.08 ERA over his previous 11 starts before allowing five runs in five innings and leaving without a decision in Thursday's 9-8 home win over Colorado. He is 6-2 with a 2.44 ERA in nine road starts.

Frazier went 0 for 4 in the series opener to drop to 3 for 30 with 11 strikeouts in his last eight games. Byrd is 8 for 20 with five RBIs in his last five.

Carpenter went deep to give him four homers and seven RBIs in his last five contests.