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Wacha makes case as Cards overpower Reds

MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- His hold on a rotation spot loosening with each subsequent start, Michael Wacha regained that grip on Monday by notching his second quality start in his past seven tries. Supported by an abundance of offense, Wacha covered the first six innings in the Cardinals' 8-2 rout of the Reds, who stopped by Busch Stadium for a one-game makeup of an April rainout.

Nearly unplugged from the rotation a week ago, Wacha took the mound needing to prove he deserved a continuance. He'll get one after holding the Reds to one run on five hits and striking out five. Wacha entered the day with an 8.17 ERA over his past six starts, only one of which had lasted as long as the fifth. The Reds, however, mustered only five singles against him.

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ST. LOUIS -- His hold on a rotation spot loosening with each subsequent start, Michael Wacha regained that grip on Monday by notching his second quality start in his past seven tries. Supported by an abundance of offense, Wacha covered the first six innings in the Cardinals' 8-2 rout of the Reds, who stopped by Busch Stadium for a one-game makeup of an April rainout.

Nearly unplugged from the rotation a week ago, Wacha took the mound needing to prove he deserved a continuance. He'll get one after holding the Reds to one run on five hits and striking out five. Wacha entered the day with an 8.17 ERA over his past six starts, only one of which had lasted as long as the fifth. The Reds, however, mustered only five singles against him.

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"I was back on the top of the ball, throwing downhill into the bottom of the zone," Wacha said. "I'm going to use this start and build off of that, continue to work in between starts in the bullpens on throwing downhill and having command of all pitches and working them off each other."

The Cardinals' offense took some pressure off Wacha by jumping early on Reds starter Brandon Finnegan, whose return from the disabled list was brief. Making his first start since April 15, Finnegan exited with a left triceps strain after throwing a fourth-inning pitch to Paul DeJong. By then, he had already walked four and surrendered three hits, including a two-run homer to Jedd Gyorko.

Video: CIN@STL: Gyorko unloads a two-run homer to right

"Just felt a little pull in my triceps, tried to throw through it, thought I was just a little fatigued, but that last pitch just didn't feel right," Finnegan said. "Honestly, things [are] just really tight. I don't think it's anything too serious, but we'll find out tomorrow."

Reds reliever Austin Brice couldn't get Cincinnati back on track. Entering behind Finnegan, Brice was nicked for nine hits and five runs over two innings. The top two hitters in the Cardinals' lineup -- Tommy Pham and Randal Grichuk -- were a nuisance to Reds pitchers all afternoon. They combined to reach base six times, scored four runs and drove in four.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Fast feet: Batting leadoff for the first time this season, Pham wasted no time using his speed to make something happen. After drawing a leadoff walk, he advanced on a short flyout to center, swiped third and then hustled home on a passed ball. Pham scored three runs while securing his 13th multihit game of the season.

Video: CIN@STL: Pham tags up on flyout to center field

"Tone set, Tommy did that today," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That stuff fires us up when we see the guy [advance on] a popup to center field. That was a good, aggressive shot on something that could turn the tide of a game, and I believe it did."

Grichuk goes deep … again: The Cardinals turned a 3-1 game into a five-run lead in the fourth, which was punctuated by Grichuk's two-run homer off Brice. The home run was Grichuk's second in two games since being recalled from Triple-A Memphis. He had hit four in his first 167 at-bats this season. Grichuk finished with a second consecutive multihit game, as well.

Video: CIN@STL: Grichuk hammers a two-run home run to center

"It feels good for the confidence," Grichuk said. "It allows me to go out there and not think and trust what I've put the work in on and that it's going to work out." More >

MEDICAL REPORT
Finnegan's left triceps strain was not related to the previous shoulder injury that put him on the 60-day DL. While the injury is not believed to be serious, it was not immediately clear whether or not Finnegan will have to miss his next start. More >

Video: CIN@STL: Finnegan leaves the game with an injury

QUOTABLE
"I think Michael has handled it like a pro. We've tried to communicate with him what we see, what we're doing, what we're thinking. And then it comes down to him performing. Sometimes we all get our back up against a wall, and there's all kinds of noise. That just gives us a great opportunity to go out and do what we do. -- Matheny, on how Wacha has handled speculation of a changing role

Video: CIN@STL: Matheny on Wacha's start

"This is life in this league, and unfortunately we haven't found a reason why pitchers are going down at such a prolific rate, not just with our club, but throughout the industry. And I think everyone throws stuff out there. … Everyone in the industry is trying to do the best for the pitchers and nothing seems to work, so I would be a proponent of going back and letting guys pitch and not baby them so much, that's one voice. -- Reds manager Bryan Price, on solving pitchers' injury problems

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With Monday's two-homer game, the Cardinals have homered in 15 straight games. On the other hand, the Reds have allowed a home run in 19 straight games, extending a franchise record.

WHAT'S NEXT
Reds: Heading back home after a week-long road trip, the Reds will start a three-game series against the National League Central-leading Brewers on Tuesday. Tim Adleman will take the mound at 7:10 p.m. ET. The right-hander has lost back-to-back games, allowing five runs over 11 innings and walking eight.

Cardinals: After the game, the Cards left town for a quick three-game road trip to Arizona, where they'll be met by a surging D-backs club. Carlos Martinez will start for St. Louis in Tuesday's 8:40 p.m. CT game. Martinez is 2-1 with a 2.86 ERA in four career starts (seven appearances) against Arizona.

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Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.

Alaina Getzenberg is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis who covered the Reds on Monday.