A brilliant five innings by Braden Looper went by the boards in the sixth when Looper threw a bad split-fingered pitch on a 1-2 count to Edwin Encarnacion with the bases loaded and two outs. By the time Felipe Lopez had overthrown both cutoff men, all three runners had scored on Encarnacion's double, and the Cardinals were on their way to a season-high sixth consecutive loss overall.
"I felt good," said Looper, who missed on a try for a career-high 13th victory. "Very frustrating. It's frustrating not only from my standpoint, but from the team's standpoint."
Looper and the Cardinals led Bronson Arroyo and the Reds 1-0 until the sixth. But Arroyo gained his 15th win.
"He pitched well," manager Tony La Russa said of Looper, "but the other guy didn't make those mistakes."
The bullpen, which has blown 30 saves and suffered 31 losses, did neither Friday. But Kyle McClellan loaded the bases on two hits, one a scratch hit, and a walk, in the eighth and Ron Villone unloaded them.
"We don't have any excuses," La Russa said. "We're just not playing good enough.
"We're not scoring runs. We're not shutting people out."
Troy Glaus, who wasn't in the original lineup for the sixth straight game because of a rotator cuff strain, was written in about a half-hour before game time. Good thing. Glaus hit his 24th homer in his first at-bat and also singled, although in the three-run eighth, he eschewed a potential force play at third on a slow tapper and threw too late to first as the Reds loaded the bases.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--C Yadier Molina does not appear close to playing after lasting just four innings Sunday before feeling discomfort in his left thigh. Molina suffered a bruised thigh when plowed into by Chicago LHP Ted Lilly in a play at the plate Sept. 10.
--In their six-game losing streak, the Cardinals, minus several injured regulars in their lineup, have scored three or fewer runs on five occasions.
--1B Albert Pujols, whose ninth-inning liner was speared by Reds CF Corey Patterson, went hitless in four at-bats. His hitting streak was stopped at 10 games.
--The Cardinals had just one at-bat with a man in scoring position. C Jason LaRue grounded out with two runners on to end the fourth inning.
--2B Aaron Miles has four homers, his most since he popped six with Colorado in 2004.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- Consecutive seasons at the start of his career that 1B Albert Pujols has hit at least .300 with 30 homers and 100 RBIs.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You don't expect a pitcher to do that. From now on, I will." -- C Yadier Molina, admitting he was surprised when Chicago LHP Ted Lilly plowed into him at the plate Sept. 10 and knocked Molina out of action for several days.