ST. LOUIS -- Starting pitching woes and a sluggish offense conspired to spoil Jim Riggleman's debut as the Reds' interim manager, as the Cardinals won the opener of a three-game series, 4-2, on Friday night at Busch Stadium. The Reds lost for the 11th time in their last 12 games and fell to the Cardinals for the fifth straight time this season.
In just his second game back after suffering a left biceps strain in Spring Training, Brandon Finnegan (0-2) lasted just three innings and gave up four runs on five hits and four walks. Three of those runs came in a 33-pitch first inning.
"He is getting closer," Riggleman said. "He's such a good competitor, but he was struggling with his control. Left some balls up. It's a good-hitting ballclub, and you're not going to get away with those pitches."
In two starts, Finnegan has given up nine runs in 7 1/3 innings and has walked eight batters.
"The positive out of this is getting a lot of weak contact in both games," Finnegan said. "Two swings both games that really did everything. Other than that, you can't walk guys."
The Reds' bullpen, meanwhile, continued to shine. Dylan Floro kept the Reds in the game with three scoreless innings of relief, and Kevin Quackenbush and Raisel Iglesias followed with scoreless innings of their own to run the scoreless streak from Reds relievers 18 1/3 innings, dating back to last Saturday.
"They've been good," Riggleman said. "Particularly Floro to keep us in the hunt there; that was big. And Quackenbush, another good inning. Iglesias, we don't really want to be pitching him in games where we're three runs down, but that's kind of where we've been lately, and to keep him in some ball games, we have to do that. But again he put a zero up, and they all gave us a chance."
The Reds did get a few key hitters back. Scott Schebler, who was reinstated from the disabled list before the game, was initially announced as the pinch-hitter for Floro in the top of the seventh, but was pulled in favor of Devin Mesoraco when the Cardinals made a pitching change. Mesoraco had been day to day after leaving Tuesday's game with a bruised wrist.
Cardinals starter Michael Wacha (3-1) entered with a 5.52 ERA, but allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings. Bud Norris gave up a run on Alex Blandino's RBI single, but recovered to earn his fifth save.
"With the three-run lead there in the ninth, Norris is going to challenge you," Blandino said. "He gave me a pitch to hit, and it found a hole."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Jose Peraza snapped the Reds' scoreless streak at 21 innings with a sacrifice fly that scored Billy Hamilton in the top of the third inning.
The rally was cut short, however, as Jesse Winker was thrown out trying to advance to second on the same play, which ended the inning.
The Cardinals have beaten the Reds nine straight games dating back to Sept. 14, 2017. It is the longest winning streak for St. Louis over Cincinnati since the Cardinals won 11 in a row in 1949.
HE SAID IT
"It wasn't quite like riding a bike. I was very excited to get the opportunity again. I preface everything by saying this for me is still about Bryan Price and the respect I have for him. We want to do some good things and carry on his message, and our guys did. They played hard, and they loved Bryan. We want to go hard on behalf of everybody and this city, the fans. They deserve better baseball, and they're going to get better baseball." -- Riggleman, on managing again
• Riggleman thankful for managerial opportunity
Homer Bailey (0-3, 3.42 ERA) will get the start as the Reds face Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez (2-1, 1.75 ERA) in the second game of a three-game series at St. Louis on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. ET. Bailey gave up three runs in seven innings to record the 100th quality start of his career against the Cardinals last Sunday.