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AP - Sports

After Adam Wainwright missed all of 2011 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, it was understood it would take time for the former 20-game winner to regain his dominance and an occasional dud could be expected.

He is coming off one such bomb.

Wainwright tries to bounce back from a miserable outing and lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a fifth straight victory Thursday against the slumping Cincinnati Reds.

After finishing second in voting for the 2010 NL Cy Young Award, Wainwright (0-2, 11.42 ERA) missed all of last season recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery. He put together an encouraging outing for St. Louis (9-3) in his 2012 debut, yielding three runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-0 loss in Milwaukee on April 7, but his next outing was far worse.

The right-hander was tagged for eight runs and seven hits - including two homers - in three innings in Friday's 9-5 home loss to the Chicago Cubs. It was the second-most runs ever allowed by Wainwright, who entered this season with a major league-best 2.46 home ERA since 2006.

"We've seen so many positive things from him this year, and he's been so far ahead of what the expectations were, so we know there are a lot of good things yet to be seen," manager Mike Matheny told the Cardinals' official website. "(Friday) is just one of those days where you have to step back and gather yourself and figure out what has to be different."

Facing a struggling Cincinnati offense could help Wainwright, who is 0-2 for the first time in his career.

The Reds (4-8) have scored one run or fewer in four of their last five games and six of nine. Brandon Phillips is batting .207, while Jay Bruce is at .191 and Scott Rolen is hitting .171.

Cincinnati had nine hits Wednesday against the Cardinals, but only Chris Heisey crossed the plate in an 11-1 loss.

Carlos Beltran - one of five St. Louis players to drive in a pair of runs - hit a two-run homer after hitting a solo shot in Tuesday's series-opening 2-1, 10-inning victory. Hitting in the No. 2 spot in the order, Beltran is batting .341 with five homers, seven RBIs and has a .460 on-base percentage.

"I know I'm not the typical second batter that's going to go out there and play the hit-and-run and things like that,'' said Beltran, signed by St. Louis in the offseason in the hopes that he would ease the pain of losing Albert Pujols in free agency. "I'm not thinking that way. I'm thinking about getting good at-bats.''

In 18 career at-bats against scheduled starter Bronson Arroyo (0-0, 2.63), Beltran is batting .278 with a homer and two doubles.

After yielding five runs in 6 1-3 innings against Miami in his season debut, Arroyo was sharp at Washington on Friday, permitting three hits and a walk over 7 1-3 scoreless innings, but the Reds lost 2-1 in 13 innings.

The right-hander went 0-1 with a 4.67 ERA in four starts against the Cardinals last season and has made seven starts since his last win in the series, May 16, 2010. He is 0-3 with a 6.81 ERA in his last six outings in St. Louis since winning there on April 28, 2008.

Wainwright is 3-4 with a 4.15 ERA in eight career starts against the Reds.

St. Louis' Lance Berkman left Wednesday's game in the fifth inning after aggravating a left calf injury. He was to be re-evaluated and is considered day-to-day.

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