CINCINNATI -- Even with Albert Pujols' name nowhere near the lineup card, Reds pitcher Homer Bailey still found a Cardinals order that can deliver power and pain in quick fashion.
Following two quick outs in the top of the first inning, Bailey struggled to record an elusive third out. By the time he finally did, St. Louis had crushed three home runs for four runs. Considering their opponent managed only three singles all night, it was more than enough to send the Reds to a 7-1 loss during Monday's three-game series opener.
"I just got a little passive with two outs," Bailey said. "I didn't stay aggressive. Once you open that can, it's kind of hard to shut sometimes. The wind blowing out like that, small park -- it's going to happen. After the first, I just tried to get as deep into the game as I could."
Now in the third spot of the St. Louis lineup instead of Pujols, Matt Holliday hit a 1-1 Bailey pitch into the left-field seats for a solo homer. Then, there was a 3-0 count on Lance Berkman before he drew a walk on a close full-count pitch.
David Freese followed by sending an 0-1 Bailey pitch the opposite way for a homer to right field. On Bailey's very next pitch, Yadier Molina crushed a long ball to center field for a 4-0 lead. A total of eight Cardinals hitters came to the plate in the first.
"He got two quick outs and then made a couple of pitches that were improperly located," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He had one down the middle to Holliday, and then a walk and then one down the middle to Freese. And one down the middle to Yadier. After that, he settled down. But it was a little too late at that time."
Bailey was the first Reds pitcher to give up three homers in one inning since Justin Lehr against the Astros on Sept. 16, 2009.
"A couple of the balls that went out, I didn't think were hit very solid," Bailey said. "Nevertheless, you have to stay aggressive the whole game."
Having had a lackluster Spring Training where he posted a 7.98 ERA, Bailey possibly won a rotation spot because several injuries to relievers prompted the club to use fellow starter contender Aroldis Chapman out of the bullpen. Chapman had a much better spring, however.
While the first inning was deflating for the Reds, there can be some optimism taken from the rest of Bailey's night. The right-hander gave up only two more hits and retired 13 of his final 17 batters. He was lifted after 5 2/3 innings, after allowing six hits and three walks while striking out five. The Reds hope that Bailey takes the latter part of this outing into his next start.
"Fortunately, we got him early," Freese said. "I don't see us as a home-run-hitting team. Hopefully, we keep getting them out of there."
Cincinnati's lineup was held hitless by Jake Westbrook for the first 4 2/3 innings, but still had chances early. Westbrook walked four batters over the first two innings, including back-to-back bases on balls to open the bottom of the second. But the Reds did nothing with those opportunities.
"He wasn't that sharp over there, either," Baker said of Westbrook. "He couldn't find the strike zone and we didn't capitalize. Then, he settled down. It's hard to really zero in on a guy when he's not throwing strikes. That was to his benefit. He was effectively wild tonight. He found it in the middle innings and went to the seventh."
There were two outs in the Reds' fifth when Brandon Phillips notched his team's first hit with a lined single to center field. The next batter, Zack Cozart, lined a single off of Westbrook's glove before the pitcher made an off-balance throw up the right-field line for an error that allowed Phillips to score from first base. Phillips did not return for the sixth inning, however, because of a cramp in his left hamstring.
Westbrook escaped potential damage again when Joey Votto was caught looking at a third strike to end the fifth.
"That was a huge out, for me and for the team," Westbrook said. "I was a little erratic early. I just had to figure it out."
Reliever Jose Arredondo was pitching for the Reds in the eighth when Molina's one-out double to the wall in left field scored two more runs. Matt Carpenter's sacrifice fly capped a three-run frame.
"They've still got a good lineup, a real good lineup," Baker said.
Cardinals pitchers faced the minimum over the Reds' final 13 batters, and retired the final 10 in a row.
Coming off taking two of three from the Marlins, the Reds are now 2-2, while the Cardinals are off to a robust 4-1 start through five games.
"What [a] difference a day makes," said Baker, referring to the Reds' walk-off win on Sunday vs. Miami. "[Sunday], everybody was happy and jubilant. Today was just a bad outcome. We have to come back and get them [on Tuesday]."