ST. LOUIS (AP)—In an effort to stop getting hit so much, Bronson Arroyo hit the pool.
Arroyo worked six solid innings, his best start of the year, in the Cincinnati Reds’ 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night. He believes adding an early morning swim to his routine has restored the zip to his fastball.
“I’m just trying to change my body up,” Arroyo said. “I’ve been doing the same stuff for years and sometimes you get kind of in a rut and you feel like you can’t throw the ball.
“It just wasn’t jumping out of my hand for a while, so I’m trying something different and it seems to be working.”
Edwin Encarnacion had a pair of RBI doubles and made a standout play at third base in the seventh inning to preserve a one-run lead. Encarnacion also snared Chris Duncan’s foul popup near the Reds’ dugout to end the game, helping Cincinnati win its first series opener after losing the first nine.
“I said in my mind I’m going to catch that ball no matter what,” Encarnacion said. “I don’t care if I hit the wall.
“You see how we won that game, you’ve got to make good defensive plays.”
Rick Ankiel hit his fifth home run for the Cardinals, for whom Jocketty served as GM the previous 13 seasons before getting fired last October. Albert Pujols singled twice and walked, extending his hitting streak to 12 games, and has reached base in all 27 games to start the season.
Manager Tony La Russa batted Ryan Ludwick, usually a middle-of-the-lineup guy, leadoff for the first time since 2002. Ludwick, who had been 4-for-7 with a homer against Arroyo, was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against the right-hander and then struck out again in the ninth.
“I just had some terrible at-bats,” Ludwick said. “I didn’t help my team a whole lot. It’s one of those games you just have to try to wash away.”
Arroyo (1-3) allowed three runs on six hits and struck out six for his first victory since Sept. 12 against the Cardinals. He had been 0-4 in eight outings since, including an 0-3 start to the season for the second time in his career. He entered with a 7.56 ERA after failing to make it out of the fourth inning while allowing eight runs in his previous start, against Houston.
“It looked like he had better command of his fastball,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I know he’s been working on that.”
Francisco Cordero allowed a hit in the ninth for his fourth save in four chances.
The Reds bunched five hits in the second and third off Todd Wellemeyer (2-1), scoring twice in each inning to go ahead 4-0. Encarnacion had an RBI double in each inning.
Encarnacion’s second RBI double put the Reds ahead 4-0 and was a gift after Duncan lost his routine pop fly to left in the lights.
Wellemeyer allowed only two hits in his last three innings, striking out five and walking two. He had been 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his first two starts at home this season.
“I did a good job of getting ahead of the hitters in the second half of the game,” Wellemeyer said. “I didn’t do a good job of that in the first half.”
Troy Glaus drew a bases-loaded walk in the third, Ankiel hit his fifth homer in the fifth, and Cesar Izturis’ opposite-field RBI double in the sixth off a sidearm 2-2 delivery from Arroyo cut the gap to a run. It stayed that way when the Cardinals caught a break in the seventh as Dunn’s bases-loaded single struck Brandon Phillips for an out as he was running to second.
The Cardinals had runners on first and second with two outs in the seventh when Encarnacion made a diving stop on Yadier Molina’s bid for a hit, throwing to second for a forceout.
“If you focus on the game, you have opportunities to make plays like that,” Encarnacion said.
Glaus, who left Friday night’s game due to watery eyes after striking out twice, wore sunglasses while flying out to end the first. Glaus, whose eyes are only affected during night games at home due to allergies, went without glasses while coaxing a full-count walk in the third.
Izturis missed five starts with a bruised right forearm after being hit by a pitch from Brewers closer Eric Gagne. Izturis is 5-for-12 with three RBIs against Arroyo. … Reds reliever Jeremy Affeldt has 16 strikeouts in 11 2-3 innings after working a scoreless eighth. … Ankiel homered for the first time since April 12 at San Francisco, a span of 46 at-bats. All but five of his 18 career homers have come at home.