CINCINNATI -- Paul Goldschmidt and the St. Louis Cardinals slowed down rookie fireballer Hunter Greene, and the Cincinnati Reds stretched their skid to 10 games — the franchise's worst string of losses in six years.
Greene couldn't find the zip on his fastball that generated so much buzz over his first two big league starts, Steven Matz (2-1) pitched one-run ball over five innings and the Cardinals beat the Reds 4-2.
The right-hander threw 39 fastballs at least 100 mph in his previous start against the Dodgers, the most in a game since pitch tracking began in 2008. The 22-year-old topped out at 97.2 mph Friday.
“You could tell early,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said of the rookie’s off night. “That’s a good arm there. He’s going to do really well in this league.”
Goldschmidt and the Cardinals took advantage. The veteran slugger had three hits and two RBIs. Both runs were charged to Greene (1-2), who walked four and allowed three runs over 3 1/3 innings.
Greene said it was just “one of those days.” Manager David Bell said he wasn't greatly concerned.
Matz (2-1) and the bullpen made the lead stick, with the right-hander striking out six and allowing seven hits before leaving with no outs and a man on in the sixth.
Decimated by free agent departures, trades and injuries, the Reds have their worst skid since losing 11 straight in 2016. Brandon Drury's RBI single in the fifth snapped a scoring drought of 16 innings.
Cincinnati scored another in the ninth on a fielder's choice groundout by Kyle Farmer, but Drury flied out to center as Giovanny Gallegos closed out his fourth save.
The Reds have been outscored 63-20 during the current slide.
Greene had been one of the few bright spots during Cincinnati's 2-12 start, but the zip was missing from his fastball in his home debut. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first after the Cardinals pushed a run across on back-to-back hits by Dylan Carlson and Goldschmidt and an error by left fielder Tommy Pham.
St. Louis loaded the bases again with one out in the fourth. Greene was pulled in favor of Jeff Hoffman, who gave up a two-run single to Goldschmidt.
The Cardinals took the opener of the weekend series after winning 2 of 3 against the Miami Marlins this week.
Matz said the key was his changeup, which he threw to Farmer to get a double-play ball when the Reds got two runners to start the fifth.
“That’s really my best pitch,” he said. “I got a few groundballs today with it and double play balls. I’m committed to it now. I felt really comfortable with it.”
WHAT CAN YOU SAY?
The Reds' rash of injuries and illnesses has included second baseman Jonathan India, third baseman Mike Moustakas, catcher Tyler Stephenson and outfielder Tyler Naquin. Most of the other hitters are slumping.
“I think it’s a combination of a lot of different factors,” Bell said. “You know, we certainly win as a team and we lose as a team.
"From my standpoint, there are things that I get to see every day that are encouraging. I know results matter. I’m also very proud of the fact that our players continue to work, they continue to play hard, they continue to go out and there’s there’s no excuses.”
Cardinals: Made their first roster move since opening day, placing RHP Drew VerHagen (right hip impingement) on the 10-day injured list and recalling LHP Packy Naughton from Triple-A Memphis.
Reds: Activated RHP Lucas Sims from the injured list. RHP Ryan Hendrix was sent to Triple-A.
The Cards send RHP Dakota Hudson (0-1, 7.71) against Reds RHP Tyler Mahle (1-1, 7.82) on Saturday.
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