Bruce, Reds win fifth straight while ending Cardinals' 5-game streak

ST. LOUIS -- Following a rough plane ride to St. Louis early Friday morning, Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker was hoping for a quiet, peaceful game.

Instead, he got a roller-coaster of emotions as the Reds beat the Cardinals 3-2 on Friday night for their season-high fifth win in a row.

Jay Bruce had three hits and two RBIs, and Cincinnati turned in several fine defensive plays following a 2 1/2-hour rain delay that featured lightning strikes near the stadium.

The Reds, who have won seven of 10, snapped St. Louis' five-game winning streak. The game was delayed 2 hours, 32 minutes in the middle of the sixth inning by rain and severe weather.

The Reds had trouble getting into St. Louis early Friday due to high winds. They began their descent at 1:20 a.m. On the third attempt in a span of 90 minutes, the pilot finally touched the plane down -- but not without a few anxious moments.

"Worst plane ride I've ever been on," Baker said. "Rough. Absolutely horrible."

But the Reds bounced back from the experience with a rousing effort on the field.

"Most definitely," Baker said when asked if it was his team's best game this season. "Our guys fought and made some outstanding defensive plays.

"The guys are full of fight and that's how you win ballgames."

Bruce's single in the sixth off starter Brad Penny brought in Joey Votto with the tying run. One batter later, Jonny Gomes gave the Reds a 3-2 lead with a single to left field.

Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto (1-1) gave up two runs and five hits in five innings. Nick Masset got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth when David Freese grounded into a double play.

Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 10 chances. He gave up a two-out double to pinch-hitter Joe Mather but got Tyler Greene on a game-ending grounder. Third baseman Scott Rolen smothered the ball and threw to first to beat Greene by a step.

"I just went to my left and kind of tackled it," Rolen said. "I know it's a cliche, but pitching and defense really do win games and that's what we got tonight."

Rolen and second baseman Brandon Phillips combined for the inning-ending double play in the eighth. Cincinnati catcher Ramon Hernandez picked Freese off second base with two on and none out in the seventh.

The three defensive gems helped silence the Cardinals, who had 12 hits but stranded nine runners.

"We came back with a flurry of hits," manager Tony La Russa said. "You can't ask for any more than that."

Penny (3-1) entered with a 0.94 ERA. He gave up eight hits and three earned runs in six innings. He walked five, and his ERA rose to 1.56.

"I've got to make better pitches," said Penny, who had won seven straight decisions against Cincinnati. "I wasn't keeping the ball down."

St. Louis went ahead on a two-run single by Matt Holliday in the third, his first RBIs since April 19.

Bruce singled home a run in the fourth, and Votto started Cincinnati's two-run sixth with a one-out walk. Rolen grounded out, sending Votto to second, and Bruce followed with an RBI single. Orlando Cabrera singled before Gomes put the Reds in front.

The Cardinals had won the opener of their previous seven series this season.

Albert Pujols, Holliday and Brendan Ryan each had two hits for St. Louis.

Game notes
Yadier Molina finished April with 15 RBIs, the second-most by a St. Louis catcher in the first full month of the season. Ted Simmons drove in 20 in 1977. ... The Reds have lost 12 of 17 at Busch Stadium. ... Pujols was issued his seventh intentional walk in the third inning. ... St. Louis outfielder Jon Jay, in his first major league start, threw out Bruce at the plate on a short fly to right to end the second inning.