ST. LOUIS (AP) — Billy Hamilton had three hits and his first two steals, and scored easily after tagging up on a shallow outfield pop fly to support a strong outing from Mike Leake in the Cincinnati Reds’ 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.
Leake (1-1) allowed four hits and a walk in eight scoreless innings and Devin Mesoraco hit a two-run home run for the Reds, who avoided a three-game sweep after dropping their ninth series in their last 10 in St. Louis. They’re 2-4 against the Cardinals, their NL Central rival, and wrapped up a 2-4 trip.
Shelby Miller (0-2) allowed his fourth homer in two starts and faced trouble most of his six innings, but held the Reds hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position. Mesoraco hit his first homer in the fourth after doubling twice Tuesday in his first start after coming off the 15-day disabled list.
Hamilton entered batting .091 with two hits and seven strikeouts in 22 at-bats and left town batting .192. He reached safely his first three trips beginning with a triple to open the game when left fielder Matt Holliday missed on a diving catch in the gap.
After singling to start the fifth he put on a show with his legs, stealing second without a throw, going to third on a flyout to shallow right and scoring easily to beat Jon Jay’s’ relay on Bruce’s pop fly to even shallower right and put the Reds up 3-0.
Hamilton bunted for a hit in the ninth against Pat Neshek and stole second, then scored without a throw on Brandon Phillips’ one-out single to make it 4-0.
Leake retired nine of the first 10 hitters and benefited from three double-play balls, two of them in a run of five straight three-up, three-down innings from the second through sixth. Leake was 0-2 in three starts last year against St. Louis while allowing 15 earned runs in 16 1-3 innings and beat them for the first time since Aug. 25, 2012.
Miller’s best work came in the first when he struck out Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto and got Bruce on a groundout to strand Hamilton at third. He gave up three runs on seven hits.
Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter made an outstanding diving stop on Leake’s grounder down the line in the third.
Notes: Slumping cleanup man Allen Craig (.097) was not in the lineup for the Cardinals and the Reds gave Zack Cozart (.038) a day off. Together, those two are 4 for 57. … Both teams have a day off Thursday. The Reds open a six-game homestand Friday with Johnny Cueto (0-1, 1.93) opposing the Rays and David Price (1-0, 4.05) and the Cardinals and Joe Kelly (1-0, 1.69) begin a three-game series with the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija (0-1, 1.29). … Miller was a 15-game winner last year as a rookie, going 10-3 with a 1.75 ERA at home.