CINCINNATI (AP) — The mound was slippery, the rain was steady, the bullpen was exhausted. Michael Wacha overcame all of it for another win.
Wacha gave St. Louis’ tired bullpen a respite by throwing seven innings in the rain Thursday, and the Cardinals pulled away to a 3-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, taking yet another series from their NL Central rival.
The Cardinals improved to 30 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2013 season. They have the best record in the major leagues at 69-39.
“It’s August already,” Wacha said. “This is the time we start pushing and play the way we have been all year.”
They took two of three in Cincinnati and have won 15 of their last 18 series together. The Reds were shut out for the last 18 innings.
St. Louis pulled out the second game of the series on Randal Grichuk’s homer in the 13th inning for a 4-3 win on Wednesday night. Wacha (13-4) overcame a 68-minute rain delay at the start of Thursday’s game, and then gave his used-up bullpen a rest.
“Absolutely had to happen,” manager Mike Matheny said. “There’s a couple of things we could have done, but that was the best.”
The right-hander allowed four hits and a pair of walks, allowing only two runners to reach second base as he beat the Reds for the third time this season. It was impressive considering the start of the game got pushed back twice and there were long delays between innings while the grounds crew worked on the field.
“It’s pretty tough pitching in that kind of stuff, but we’ve got to deal with it,” said Wacha, who threw 102 pitches.
Trevor Rosenthal gave up an infield single and a walk in the ninth while getting his 32nd save in 34 chances and completing a five-hitter.
Tony Cruz snapped his 0-for-15 slump with an RBI single, and Kolten Wong singled home two more off Michael Lorenzen (3-7) as the teams played through intermittent, sometimes heavy rain. There was a long delay after the sixth inning to spread a drying compound around the infield.
Lorenzen, one of five rookies in the Reds’ rotation, gave up three runs in five innings. He hasn’t won since June 21, going 0-5 in seven starts. In his last four starts, he’s allowed 20 runs in 18 innings.
Grichuk went 0 for 4, ending his hitting streak at eight games. Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips extended his hitting streak to seven games.
A LOT OF ZEROES
It was the Cardinals’ 11th shutout of the season, fourth-most in the NL. Last year, they had 23 shutouts. … The Reds’ streak of 18 innings without a run matches their longest of the season — they also did it in June. … Wacha has given up only two runs in 20 1-3 innings against the Reds this season.
RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY …
It was the 13th rain delay at Great American Ball Park this season, totaling 18 hours, 41 minutes.
Cardinals: LF Stephen Piscotty was hit in the left thigh by one of Lorenzen’s pitches while trying to bunt in the fifth inning. He stayed in the game.
Reds: CF Billy Hamilton got a day off. He has one hit in his last 15 at-bats.
Cardinals: St. Louis goes to Milwaukee for a three-game series. Lance Lynn (8-6) is 7-3 career against the Brewers with a 2.53 ERA. The seven wins are his most against any opponent.
Reds: Cincinnati starts a 10-game trip against the Diamondbacks, the Padres and the Dodgers. Raisel Iglesias (2-3) tries for his first back-to-back wins in the majors, making his first appearance against Arizona.
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