The anonymous gesture might become his good-luck charm after Arroyo ended a 10-start winless slump and finally won his 10th game in a 7-2 victory over St. Louis on Wednesday night that cut the Cardinals’ lead in the NL Central to 1 1/2 games.
“It worked,” Arroyo said. “Hey, we’ll have to take them dead and everything to the next start.”
Edwin Encarnacion hit two of the Reds’ homers, all coming in the first five innings. Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 24th to tie Pete Rose for 20th place with 1,041 extra-base hits, and Rich Aurilia and Adam Dunn also connected.
“From one through eight, you look at their numbers and they’ve got some thump,” Cardinals catcher Gary Bennett said. “If you miss out over the plate, they have a good chance of hitting you hard and doing some damage.”
The Reds are 9-5 against the Cardinals headed into Thursday’s series finale, also the final game between the teams this season.
The Cardinals, who scored both of their runs on bases-loaded groundouts, are 26-31 against a division they dominated last year with a 51-29 record.
Arroyo (10-8), who represented the Reds at the All-Star Game, allowed one run on four hits in seven innings to win for the first time since June 19. He had been 0-5 with a 5.29 ERA during the drought, and gave up three homers in a loss to the Cardinals in his last start.
His last two starts, he changed his hairdo to a cornrow style. He removed them after the game, however.
“They’re probably gone for a little while,” Arroyo said. “I gave them two opportunities to get a win and they did their job, so we’ll leave them off for a while.”
Before this start, Arroyo decided not to worry about his personal misfortune and just try to help the Reds stay close in the Central.
“It was frustrating more in the beginning than it has been of late, just because it’s getting to that time of year when every win is important to the team regardless of if I get a win or not,” Arroyo said. “Today was probably the first time I actually went out there not worrying if we had the lead when I left the game.”
Arroyo twice got the best of Albert Pujols, helping keep the Reds in charge. Pujols grounded into a double play in the first after Arroyo walked the first two batters, and grounded into a run-scoring fielder’s choice with the bases loaded in the third to cut the Reds’ lead to 4-1.
“Obviously, the two ground balls to Pujols were huge,” Arroyo said. “He’s a guy that you don’t want to be in that situation with.
“Luckily I threw two fastballs on the outer half and he hit them both for ground balls.”
Encarnacion hit two homers for the second time in his career, and second time in five games. He homered well over the visitor’s bullpen in left leading off the second against Anthony Reyes (4-6) for the game’s first run, and hit a three-run homer in the third for a 4-0 lead.
Aurilia hit his 17th leading off the fourth, and Griffey and Dunn homered off Jorge Sosa in the fifth for a 7-1 cushion. The five-homer game is one off the Reds’ season high.
Reyes, who made his 12th career start, endured his shortest outing. In 3 1-3 innings he allowed five runs on four hits, and gave up three of the homers.
Reyes threw five shutout innings against the Reds in his last start at Cincinnati.
“I wasn’t hitting the spots like I was last week,” Reyes said. “I was getting behind way too much and it cost me.”
Encarnacion had batted .441 with four homers and 14 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak that ended with an 0-for-3 day in the series opener.
Chris Duncan was 3-for-4 with a walk for the Cardinals. He’s 14-for-27 (.519) against the Reds with five homers and eight RBIs.
Griffey has 560 career homers, three behind Reggie Jackson for 10th place on the career list. The homer was his first since Aug. 6, a stretch of 42 at-bats. … The Reds’ six-homer game was April 11 at Chicago. Cardinals pitchers surrendered five homers for the second time this season; they also did it July 18 against the Braves. … Aurilia was 2-for-4 and is 14-for-31 (.452) against the Cardinals with four homers and 13 RBIs. … Six of Dunn’s 36 homers have come against St. Louis pitching. … Timo Perez had a bases-loaded groundout in the eighth for the Cardinals.