Reds play Cardinals seven times in next 10 games

The Reds didn’t want to paint the three-game series that begins tonight in St. Louis as the biggest of the season. They wouldn’t admit they have something to prove after getting shellacked the last time they saw the Cardinals in the first days of August.

That would be setting themselves up for failure. The Reds, after all, have done nothing this season to show they can win a series against the Cardinals.

“It’s more important only because we can make up more ground, not because it’s the Cardinals,” Reds reliever Sam LeCure said. “It’s just the team that’s ahead of us. We can make up ground pretty quickly. We’re going to face them several times in this last month, as well as Pittsburgh.”

The Reds (74-57) are still nipping at the Cardinals’ heels in the wild-card race. Despite a 3-1 loss to the Brewers on Sunday at Great American Ball Park, they’re 2½ games back. St. Louis (76-53) saw its four-game winning streak end Sunday, losing 5-2 to the Braves.

The Reds are 4-8 against the Cardinals this season and have been outscored 79-42. St. Louis has won two out of three games in the last six series between the two teams. The Reds will play the Cardinals seven times in the next 10 games with a three-game series in Colorado in the middle.

“They’re not going to feel sorry for us,” LeCure said. “They’re going to come out and try throttle to us. We’ve just got to come out and really dig in and play hard tomorrow.

The Reds will start Mike Leake (11-5, 3.12) and then Mat Latos (13-4, 2.93) and Homer Bailey (8-10, 3.71). Latos has had the most success against the Cardinals. He’s 2-0 against them this season, though he didn’t get to pitch in the last series against St. Louis.

St. Louis counters with Tyler Lyons (2-4, 5.09), Joe Kelly (5-3, 3.01) and Adam Wainwright (15-7, 2.58).

The Cardinals announced Sunday that Lyons would start today. He’s a left-hander, and the Reds hit .243 against lefties, compared to .251 against righties. Lyons replaces Jake Westbrook, who was placed on the disabled list with a back strain.

Reynolds does job: Greg Reynolds, called up on Sunday to replace the injured Tony Cingrani in the rotation, gave up two runs on five hits in six innings. He took the loss because the Reds offense didn’t show up.

This was Reynolds’ 18th major league start and second for the Reds. He said he felt more comfortable than July 23, when he gave up five runs in five innings in San Francisco.

“I was able to slow it down a little bit and really make a pitch when I had to,” Reynolds said. “I got behind in the counts, and I was throwing more balls than I’m used to. I was able to execute when I needed to, but I’d definitely like to do a better job of executing early (in the count).”

Reynolds made one big mistake, giving up a two-run home run to Caleb Gindl in the second inning.

“It was a cut fastball,” he said. “I wanted to go farther in with it. It still wasn’t on the plate. I think it was actually a ball. I think it was the right pitch. He put a good swing on it. You’ve got to give him credit.”

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