CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 13: Scooter Gennett #3 of the Cincinnati Reds swings and misses at a pitch in the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on April 13, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Reds lose sixth straight to fall to 2-11

Well, at least the Reds’ control improved for a game.

After issuing 11 walks in Thursday’s 13-4 loss to St. Louis, Cincinnati pitchers combined to allow just two – both with two outs in the ninth inning – in Friday’s second game of the series.

Instead, the offense practically disappeared at the hands of Cardinals right-hander Luke Weaver and St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina continued to torment the Reds with a home run and three runs batted in, helping extend Cincinnati’s losing streak to six games with a 5-3 win.

A crowd of 19,561 saw the Reds’ record slip to 2-11, equaling their worst two-win start since the 1931 team opened with two wins in its first 19 games. The last time Cincinnati was 2-11 was in 1955.

They are 1-5 at Great American Ball Park going into Saturday’s third game of the series and homestand. Left-hander Brandon Finnegan is expected to be activated from the 10-day disabled list to make his first start of the season. Finnegan opened the season on the disabled list after straining his left biceps during spring training. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m., and rain is in the forecast.

Outfielder Jesse Winker was scratched from manager Bryan Price’s original starting lineup with right shoulder soreness. Phillip Ervin took Winker’s place in right field.

Rookie right-hander Tyler Mahle (1-2) allowed one run and four hits through five innings, but hidden damage from errors committed by third baseman Cliff Pennington on back-to-back plays in the fifth may have contributed to Mahle losing effectiveness in the sixth.

Molina gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead with a second-inning, two-out, opposite-field homer into the right field seats on a 2-1 pitch, his second homer in two games and 14thof his 15-year career at Great American Ball Park. He has 51 runs batted in Cincinnati and 21 homers and 90 RBIs overall against the Reds.

The Reds overcame Pennington’s errors that loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth. Mahle got Kolten Wong to pop out to shortstop Jose Peraza in foul territory – Peraza calling Pennington off the ball – and Weaver to ground into a double play turned successfully by the Reds.

“It’s always nice to grind through an inning like that. We were all pretty pumped up.”

The errors not only meant Mahle needed extra pitches to get out of the fifth, but he was facing the top of the Cardinals’ lineup to start the sixth instead of the bottom. Fowler led off the sixth by getting ahead, 2-0, and launching his second homer of the season into the right field seats. That was the first of four straight Cardinal hits, a groundout, and Molina’s two-run single to left through a drawn-in infield with first base open that knocked Mahle out of the game, trailing, 5-0.

“They have a pretty solid lineup,” Price said. “There’s not a whole lot of places to go. If you pitch around Molina, they’ve got DeJong behind him.”

DeJong went into the game hitting .286.

“They hit some good pitches that hurt, and I made some bad pitches,” Mahle said. “It was a little bit of both. It all just kind of blew up.”

“They have a veteran team,” catcher Devin Mesoraco said. “The third time through, they made some adjustments and got the barrel of the bat to it.”

Mesoraco beat out a grounder up the middle for a fifth-inning leadoff infield hit to break up Weaver’s no-hitter. The play survived a 2 minute, 55-second video review and snapped at 11 Weaver’s streak of consecutive retired hitters.

Mesoraco broke up the shutout in the seventh, following Scooter Gennett’s leadoff single with a two-run homer that barely reached the first row of seats in left field. Mesoraco’s first homer of the season.

Joey Votto drove in Billy Hamilton from second with a one-out single to left in the eighth, but Dominic Leone picked Votto off first base to end the inning.

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