By JOE KAY, AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) — Yadier Molina heard the boos again. Then he came through again, sending the Cincinnati Reds to their lowest point since 1955.
Molina homered and drove in three runs Friday night, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-3 victory that deepened the Reds’ opening slump and added to his legacy against them.
The catcher has gotten booed loudly at Great American Ball Park — even during the 2015 All-Star Game — by fans who haven’t forgotten his scuffle with Brandon Phillips in 2010. They boo louder every time he delivers another game-turning hit.
He’s still got the touch.
“Yadi continues to just get better,” manager Mike Matheny said.
St. Louis came into the series with a stagnant offense but broke out during two games against the worst pitching staff in the majors, piling up 18 runs and 25 hits. Molina has homered in each game, giving him a team-high five this season.
Molina’s 21 career homers against the Reds are his most against any team.
“Yadi’s being Yadi,” said Luke Weaver (2-0), who pitched into the seventh inning. “He does it so well back there and calls a great game.”
The Reds lost their sixth in a row and have the worst record in the majors at 2-11. They also lost 11 of their first 13 games in 1955. Another loss on Saturday would produce their worst start since 1931.
“We’ve been through some stretches — some challenging, difficult times with winning games over the last few seasons,” manager Bryan Price said.
The Reds managed only two infield singles until the seventh, when Devin Mesoraco hit a two-run homer off Weaver. The right-hander has beaten the Reds three times in a row, giving up a total of four earned runs. Overall, Weaver is 9-1 in 12 starts since Aug. 2.
Bud Norris allowed a hit and a walk in the ninth while getting his second save in two chances, fanning Tucker Barnhart for the final out.
Molina had a solo shot and a two-run single off Tyler Mahle (1-2), who gave up nine hits and five runs in 5 1/3 innings. The Cardinals took control with five runs in the sixth, when Dexter Fowler had a solo homer and Marcell Ozuna extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI single.
“They hit some good pitches — that hurt — and I made some bad pitches,” Mahle said. “It was a little bit of both. It all just kind of blew up.”
Joey Votto was back in the Reds lineup after getting a day off, ending his streak of 202 consecutive starts. He singled home a run in the eighth off Tyler Lyons and was picked off first base by Dominic Leone.
WHAT ABOUT HOLLAND?
Greg Holland, who signed a one-year deal with St. Louis on March 31, was available for the ninth inning, but Matheny went with Norris instead. Holland made two appearances in the minors before joining the Cardinals. He struggled in his first appearance on Monday, walking four, and then pitched a scoreless inning on Wednesday.
“We’re just trying to get him some consistent opportunities,” Matheny said. “This is kind of spring training (for Holland). I know he wants to get in for those situations. He’ll get his opportunities.”
The Reds helped their depleted bullpen by selecting the contract of right-hander Dylan Floro from Triple-A Louisville. Right-hander Tanner Rainey was optioned. Reliever Ariel Hernandez was designated for assignment to create a spot on the 40-man roster.
Cardinals: Right-handed reliever Luke Gregerson made his third minor league rehab appearance, throwing a scoreless inning. He has been sidelined since spring training with a strained left hamstring.
Reds: Jesse Winker was a late scratch from the lineup because of a sore right shoulder. Phillip Ervin replaced him in right field.
Cardinals: Miles Mikolas (1-0) faced the Reds in 2012 and 2013 as a Padres reliever. He has yielded eight runs in 12 innings in his two starts for the Cardinals.
Reds: Left-hander Brandon Finnegan is expected to come off the DL and make his first start of the season. He strained his left biceps during spring training.
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