ST. LOUIS — After a miserable stretch, Kyle Lohse is dominating hitters.
Lohse came within two outs of his second shutout in three starts and the Cincinnati Reds got home runs from Ken Griffey Jr., Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Dunn in a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night.
“It’s in there,” manager Jerry Narron said of Lohse. “Stuff-wise, he’s as good as anybody. We really feel like the worst is behind him.”
Encarnacion had four hits and three RBIs for the Reds, who ended a four-game losing streak and avoided a three-game sweep. The Reds completed a 4-5 trip, with 2004 first-round pick Homer Bailey set to make his major league debut on Friday in Cincinnati.
All of the home runscame off Adam Wainwright (4-5), who had allowed only four in his first 11 career starts. Wainwright lasted six innings and gave up four runs and eight hits.
“It’s not like I was getting crushed all night long,” Wainwright said. “I let a few hitters get away from me, that’s all it is. That’s all I’m going to think about.”
The Cardinals lost for the second time in eight games. They’re 4-2 against the Reds, with all the games played in St. Louis.
Griffey led off the fourth with his 576th career home run and 13th of the season, all in the past 39 games. Brandon Phillips followed with a single and scored on Encarnacion’s fourth home run of the season for a 3-0 lead. Dunn added his 15th home run of the yearin the sixth.
Encarnacion is 16-for-27 (.593) during a seven-game hitting streak with a home run, five doubles and five RBIs. He’s started all 16 games at third base since being recalled from Triple-A Louisville on May 22, batting .410 (25-for-62) in that stretch.
“See the ball, hit the ball,” Encarnacion said. “That’s what I’ve been doing, being aggressive.”
Lohse (3-7) breezed through the first four innings, allowing only Adam Kennedy’s infield hit in the third.
Juan Encarnacion doubled with one out in the fifth but Kennedy and Gary Bennett flied out. Pinch hitter Aaron Miles and Albert Pujols singled to start the sixth and seventh, but both were erased in double plays.
His last three starts have been a marked improvement for Lohse, who lost six straight starts and had an 8.59 ERA over his last April start and first five May starts. The surge, including a loss at Colorado in his last start in which he allowed three runs in six innings, has come after a split-screen video session with pitching coach Dick Pole.
Lohse said the changes are subtle, including being a little more aggressive and not guiding the ball.
“Everybody wants to be perfect,” he said. “It’s just the nature of the game. We’re not robots.”
The Cardinals finally broke through against Lohse in the ninth. With one out, Pujols doubled off the wall in right field and scored on Jim Edmonds’ single.
Lohse went 8 1-3 innings, giving up seven hits and one run with a walk and two strikeouts. Before the ninth, the Cardinals’ 3-4-5 hitters were 1-for-9.
“You don’t run across guys that throw the ball that well and their stuff is on all the time,” Edmonds said. “He knew what he wanted to do and he made pitches all night.”