Cardinals hand the ball to Lackey against Reds

( - It's a new home, but John Lackey seems to like the neighborhood.

The veteran right-hander takes the Busch Stadium mound for the third time with his new team in St. Louis when the Cardinals host the Cincinnati Reds in the middle test of a three-game series on Tuesday night.

Lackey was ripped for nine runs on 13 hits in a 10-3 loss at Baltimore in his lone road outing since arriving from Boston on July 31, but he recovered to the tune of two runs on five hits in seven innings of the team's 4-3 win against San Diego on Thursday.

In his Cardinals debut at home on Aug. 3, Lackey allowed two runs in seven innings in a no-decision against Milwaukee.

"It's been great here at home, for sure," Lackey said. "I feel like it's a good ball park to pitch in, and the guys have played well behind me in those two games."

The Cardinals are 2 1/2 games in from of the pack pursuing a National League wild card berth, and trail the Brewers by 2 1/2 games in the chase for the NL's Central Division title.

The free-falling Reds have lost six of seven games to plummet from division contention and will start Alfredo Simon, who's 0-5 in six starts and compiled a 5.46 ERA since earning a substitute roster spot on the NL All-Star team.

He was dinged for seven runs on 10 hits in five innings of a 7-3 loss to Colorado on Thursday.

"He still has the stuff to be successful. Unfortunately, he's not having any success," manager Bryan Price said. "He's going to continue to get the ball. The only way to learn how to pitch a season as a starter is to pitch a season as a starter."

St. Louis has won all but three of the last 10 games with the Reds, and seven of the last nine played at Busch Stadium.

Simon has never faced the Cardinals as a starter. Lackey, meanwhile, hasn't faced the Reds since 2007.

On Monday, Jhonny Peralta drove in the game-winning run in the 10th inning as St. Louis eked past the struggling Reds, 6-5.

Peralta had scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, but extras were needed after Trevor Rosenthal blew his fifth save in the ninth. Matt Holliday and Matt Adams each singled with one away to put runners on the corners for Peralta, whose third hit of the night went over Ryan Ludwick's head in left to cap St. Louis' fifth win in six games.

Adams also recorded three hits with a run scored and an RBI in the victory, which was credited to Nick Greenwood (2-1) for tossing a perfect 10th frame.

Jay Bruce hit a three-run homer and tied the game in the ninth with an RBI double.


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