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Date of game: 9/19/2014

Recap: St. Louis vs. Cincinnati

St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - John Lackey hasn't been at his best since a trade deadline deal brought him to St. Louis, but on Friday he helped the Cardinals pitching staff accomplish something it hadn't done in 100 years.

Lackey became the eighth straight starter to allow one earned run or less in five innings or more, as St. Louis topped the Cincinnati Reds, 2-1, in the opener of a three-game series.

The streak began one night after Lackey was charged with two runs on four hits in just two innings in Cincinnati on Sept. 10. The Reds took three of four from St. Louis in that series.

Since then, Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller have each taken the hill twice and Marco Gonzales started once. The Cardinals have won six of seven after this victory.

Lackey (3-2) pitched 7 2/3 strong innings, yielding just a run on six hits with five strikeouts. Sam Freeman finished the eighth, but Trevor Rosenthal couldn't get through the ninth. Rosenthal walked Todd Frazier and gave up a bloop single to Brandon Phillips, departing with one out and runners on the corners.

Southpaw Randy Choate came in to face the lefty Jay Bruce, and the veteran did his job, striking out Bruce on a 3-2 slider. Seth Maness posted the save by getting Ryan Ludwick to fly out to center.

"I think there is definitely skill in winning tight games," Lackey said. "This team has it."

Randall Grichuk and Matt Holliday hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning to account for both Cardinals runs. It was the first time that St. Louis went back-to-back in the first inning this season.

The Reds got a run back in the top of the second. Devin Mesoraco led off with a single, Jay Bruce reached with a base knock to left and with two outs, Zack Cosart singled to center. Mesoraco scored easily, and Yadier Molina's relay to second was in time to nab Cosart and end the inning. Cincinnati challenged the call, but it was upheld.

"It's a broken record, we're just not scoring enough runs," said Reds manager Bryan Price.

Lackey got some help from his center fielder, Jon Jay. Prior to Cosart's RBI single, Ludwick drove one to deep center and Jay was there to make a leaping catch at the wall. Then in the fifth inning, Ludwick flew to the warning track again and Jay robbed him for a second time.

Cincinnati starter David Holmberg (1-2) took the hard-luck loss after serving up both home runs. He pitched six innings, giving up just three more hits and three walks the rest of the way.

Game Notes

The Cardinals are now 2 1/2 games ahead of Pittsburgh for first place in the National League Central ... Lackey had allowed a home run in five straight outings ... The Reds have scored four runs during a five-game losing skid ... Cincinnati has lost 16 of its last 18 games away from home.

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