Right-hander Chris Carpenter, who twice had lost 1-0 to Cincinnati right-hander Aaron Harang in the last three years, turned the tables Tuesday. He allowed only one runner to reach second base in a four-hitter.
"He was relentless," manager Tony La Russa said.
The Cardinals had been outscored 95-70 over their previous 17 games, 13 of which they had lost. But Chris Duncan's two-run homer and three hits, Ronnie Belliard's three hits and two RBIs and Carpenter's shutout pitching signaled a potential reversal to that trend.
Duncan has six homers in 26 career at-bats against the Reds, including five in 23 at-bats this year. He is batting .478 against Cincinnati this season.
"He's getting hits against the best pitching in the league," La Russa said. "For an aggressive hitter, he's really got a good strike zone."
REPLAY: Ronnie Belliard singled home a run in the second inning, doubled home a run in the fourth and raised his consecutive hits total to five over two games when he went 3-for-3 Tuesday night in a 5-0 Cardinals win over Cincinnati.
Chris Carpenter (11-6) tossed his 11th career shutout and his second this season, allowing just four baserunners, all on singles. He struck out six.
--The Cardinals, not seeing the need to carry 13 pitchers anymore, sent RHP Brad Thompson back to Triple-A Memphis and recalled OF Timo Perez, who had been up with them earlier. Perez, who hit .240 with the Cardinals in his earlier trial, was hitting .291 at Memphis with 15 doubles and 13 homers. Thompson, who had pitched well in a couple of appearances since coming back to the majors last week, was 1-1 with a 4.29 ERA overall.
--INF/OF Scott Spiezio still was limping with a strained left Achilles tendon, injured Sunday in Pittsburgh. He didn't play Tuesday.
--The Cardinals' win raised their Central Division record to 26-30. They were 51-29 in division play last year.
--SS David Eckstein extended his hitting streak to seven games (9-for-28).
--1B Albert Pujols had three hits to hike his hitting streak to six games (11-for-26).
BY THE NUMBERS: 18 -- Number of homers allowed by Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter in his first 23 starts. He gave up only 18 all last season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If he wants to earn that money next year through an option or as a free agent with somebody else, he's got to prove he's worth $10 million." -- Manager Tony La Russa, on CF Jim Edmonds' discontent that his 2007 option hadn't been picked up.