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Tony Cingrani struggles again, Reds lose to Cardinals 6-3, evening their series

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CINCINNATI - Left-hander Tony Cingrani isn't all the way back from his two weeks on the disabled list. It showed again in his latest start.

Cingrani gave up a homer to Yadier Molina, who seems to thrive in a city where he's always booed, and left-hander Jaime Garcia got his first victory in more than a year as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-3 Saturday night.

Molina hit a solo shot off Cingrani (2-4), who has lost both of his starts since returning from the disabled list. Cingrani, who had shoulder tendinitis, has given up eight runs and 14 hits in 12 innings his last two times out.

"I had 16 or 17 days off when I didn't throw in a game," Cingrani said. "I'm not completely stretched out yet. I'm trying to shake that off. My changeup is good. My slider's coming out good. My velocity will improve if I keep working at it."

Manager Bryan Price said before the game that Cingrani could solidify his spot in the rotation by pitching well his next few times out. Mat Latos is expected back sometime in June, giving the Reds one too many starters.

"At times, he was very, very good," Price said. "He's not vintage yet. His velocity isn't what it was at the opening of the season. We don't have a lot of margin for error. We're not giving our guys a lot of margin for error. I'd sure like to see a 10-2 game."

They'd also like to see less of Molina.

Molina also homered off Johnny Cueto for a 1-0 win on opening day in Cincinnati. Two of his five homers have come at Great American Ball Park, where he is booed by fans who remember his 2010 brawl at home plate with second baseman Brandon Phillips.

"I tell them to keep booing — just to myself," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It seems the louder they get, the better he gets."

Garcia (1-0) made his second start since recovering from surgery on his labrum and rotator cuff last May. He gave up six hits and a pair of runs in 5 2-3 innings, fanning seven and retiring 12 batters in a row over one span.

Ryan Ludwick homered in the ninth off Jason Motte. Trevor Rosenthal came on with two outs and fanned Todd Frazier with two runners aboard for his 15th save in 17 chances.

Jon Jay, a late addition to the Cardinals lineup, had three hits and drove in a pair of runs.

St. Louis was forced to change its bullpen and its lineup before the game.

Left-handed reliever Kevin Siegrist went on the 15-day disabled list with strained pitching forearm. Left-hander Sam Freeman was called up from Triple-A to take his spot.

Centre fielder Peter Bourjos was scratched from the lineup less than half an hour before the first pitch because of a stomach virus, prompting Matheny to change three spots in the batting order. Jay, who wasn't in the original lineup, took Bourjos' place in centre.

The sixth inning proved pivotal, with second baseman Mark Ellis playing a role in both halves.

The Cardinals loaded the bases with a single and a pair of walks, and Ellis hit a sacrifice fly to the wall in centre. Jay singled home another run for a 4-1 lead.

Phillips doubled home a run in the bottom of the inning, leaving runners on second and third. Ellis jumped and caught Devin Mesoraco's liner, helping Garcia hold the lead and stay on course for his first victory since May 17 last year.

NOTES: Adam Wainwright (7-2) tries to become the NL's first eight-game winner in the series finale. He's 6-9 with a 4.75 career ERA against Cincinnati. Mike Leake (2-3) starts for the Reds. ... 3B Matt Carpenter extended his hitting streak to six games. ... Latos is expected to make his first rehab start at Triple-A Louisville on Sunday. He hasn't pitched all season because of torn knee cartilage and a strained forearm. The Reds want him to make at least three rehab starts before they'll consider activating him. ... RF Jay Bruce has gone 1 for 8 with four strikeouts in two games since returning from surgery to repair knee cartilage.

___

Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

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