ST. LOUIS (AP) — At 6-foot-5, Amir Garrett quickly lived up to the hype.
Touted as Cincinnati's top pitching prospect, the former St. John's basketball player pitched two-hit ball for six innings to win his major league debut as the Reds beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-0 Friday night.
"I wasn't really jittery how I thought I was going to be," he said. "After I went out there and threw the first pitch, I realized this is the same game I've been playing."
Garrett struck out four, walked two and needed only 78 pitches to record 18 outs. The lefty played two seasons of college hoops while already a Reds minor leaguer.
"He went right after them," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He made a lot of good pitches inside to the right-handed hitters. He had a better changeup going today and a slider and the good part of the whole thing is he never got himself into a big batch of trouble."
Garrett walked the first batter he faced, but settled in and retired 10 of the next 11. The Cardinals didn't get a runner past first base until Matt Carpenter took second on defensive indifference with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
Garrett credits the experience of playing big-time college basketball for allowing him to settle in.
"When I went out there it was, 'I've been here before, just in a different sport,'" Garrett said. "I was able to look around for a second and see everything."
Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias combined for three innings of hitless relief. Iglesias went two innings to earn his second save.
Joey Votto hit an RBI double off Mike Leake (0-1), who went eight innings. Scott Schebler homered in the ninth.
"I felt like I was swinging the bat well," Schebler said. "I've been walking, just a matter of putting one swing together and kind of building off that. I know it's early, but to give ourselves a two-run lead in that situation is huge."
There were no strange plays at Busch Stadium, a day after a pitch that bounced got stuck to Cardinal catcher Yadier Molina's chest protector.
Votto's double in the sixth scored Billy Hamilton. Schebler connected off Kevin Siegrist.
"We made a few hard outs, but for the most part we just couldn't get any a good feel against (Garrett). And for a kid coming out and making his debut, he threw a good game," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
NO LUCK LEAKE
Leake pitched well, scattering six hits while striking out six and walking one.
"I had good rhythm and (Molina) was doing a great job back there calling pitches," Leake said.
Hamilton stole second base on the top of the sixth inning. The speedster improved to 24 for 26 in stolen base attempts for his career against Molina, the most by any baserunner off the eight-time Gold Glove winner.
Molina helped thwarted a Reds rally in the fifth with his arm. With runners at the corners and one out, Garrett missed a bunt and Molina threw out Zack Cozart at third to keep the game scoreless.
"It was a good play on their part," Price said. "We got a little bit over-aggressive there, but they're the type of time that can exploit that aggressiveness with Molina behind the plate."
Reds: C Devin Mesoraco (right hip) caught six innings for Double-A Pensacola on Thursday. RHP Austin Brice (ulnar nerve inflammation, right elbow) is scheduled to make his first rehab appearance Friday at Pensacola.
Cardinals: RHP Trevor Rosenthal (right lat strain) felt good after a throwing session and could either pitch in a simulated game or go on a rehab assignment soon.
Reds: RHP Bronson Arroyo will make his first start since June 15, 2014. Arroyo is 8-15 with a 4.69 ERA in his career against St. Louis.
Cardinals: RHP Michael Wacha has won his past five decisions going back to June 22. He is 6-1 with a 3.07 ERA in his career against Cincinnati.