CINCINNATI -- Micah Owings' pitching is finally catching up to his bat.
The Cincinnati right-hander homered and pitched into the seventh inning to help the Reds beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-2 on Saturday.Owings (6-8) allowed six hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings with two walks and six strikeouts for his third win in last four starts."I just feel like I'm taking the same approach every game," Owings said. "I come in here, get ready between starts and focus on each pitch -- and I know the guys behind me will help."
• Micah Owings got his sixth win of the season and helped his own cause by hitting his third homer of the year (most among MLB pitchers).
• Joey Votto was 2 for 4 with his 10th homer of the season, improving his batting average to .366.
• Francisco Cordero saved his 20th game of the year, his sixth straight season with 20 or more saves.
• The Reds have won 5 of 7 games and lead the season series with the Cardinals 5-4.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
Reds manager Dusty Baker believes pitchers such as Owings and Homer Bailey, who set a career high with 7 1/3 innings in Friday's 7-4 loss to the Cardinals, are getting their feet on the ground."They're getting some innings behind them," Baker said. "Guys tend to get sharper. Owings certainly had his breaking ball going pretty good today."Joey Votto also homered and drove in two runs and Willy Taveras had three hits to help lift the Reds to their third win in their last four games.Reliever Nick Masset, who had to leave Friday's game after Yadier Molina lined a ball off of his right bicep as the leadoff hitter in the ninth inning, got Albert Pujols to ground out with runners on first and second and two outs in the seventh inning. That was less than 24 hours after Pujols hit a grand-slam in the eighth inning to give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead."I threw my best stuff at him," Masset said. "I really didn't try to stay away from him. I wanted to go at him, but keep it out of his power zone."Francisco Cordero pitched a perfect ninth for his 20th save.Colby Rasmus, who went into the game leading NL rookies with eight home runs and 29 RBIs, gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead with a one-out homer in the first inning. That run was the first scored by St. Louis for Brad Thompson in his last three starts.The Reds tied the game in the bottom of the inning on Taveras's one-out single to center and Votto's first triple of the season, a line drive into the right field corner that caromed past right fielder Rick Ankiel and rolled along the right field wall.Owings gave the Reds a 2-1 lead in the second with his third home run of the season and eighth of his career, a 391-foot shot off the roof of the Reds bullpen in left-center field."I put a good swing on it, drove through it and got it up enough to go out," he said. "I won't ever complain. I'm blessed that I can swing the bat. I enjoy it, and I take pride in it. I always have, and I always will."Thompson knew Owings was dangerous, especially when he gets a hittable pitch."I threw him a cement mixer of a breaking ball, and he did some work on it," Thompson said.Two Cardinal throwing errors helped Brandon Phillips round the bases and give Cincinnati a 3-1 lead in the third. Phillips reached second base on shortstop Tyler Greene's throwing error and tagged up and went to third on Jay Bruce's flyout to Rasmus on the warning track in right-center field. Molina tried to pick Phillips off of third as Edwin Encarnacion was striking out, but Molina's throw sailed over the head of third baseman Joe Thurston and down the left field line, allowing Phillips to trot home past the catcher, who was crouched with his head down near the baseline.Votto hit Thompson's first pitch of the fifth inning 420 feet into the right field seats for his 10th homer of the season and first since June 25 in Toronto. Phillips and Bruce followed with singles, and Phillips scored from third on Jerry Hairston Jr.'s fielder's-choice grounder.Pujols scored from third base as catcher Ramon Hernandez tried to throw out Ankiel, who advanced from first to second on Bruce's throw home following Molina's fly ball to right field in the sixth.Thompson (2-5) has lost his three starts. The Reds reached him for five runs -- four earned -- on nine hits with two walks and four strikeouts."Thompson was OK," manager Tony LaRussa said. "It looked like most of the damage came on breaking balls that spun in the middle of the plate. He got hurt with them."
Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan was scratched from the original starting lineup because of an upset stomach. Tyler Greene replaced Ryan and went 0-for-4 to extend his streak of consecutive hitless at bats to 21. Ryan singled as a pinch-hitter leading off the eighth.