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SD@STL: Lackey fans five over seven solid innings

The Reds will try to avoid falling even further out of the National League playoff picture when they meet the Cardinals once again on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.

Their deficit in the Wild Card race climbed to five after they dropped the series opener in 10 innings, 6-5, on Monday night.

St. Louis, which has tied a season high at 10 games over .500, trails the Brewers by 2 1/2 games in the NL Central. The Cardinals are also in the lead for the NL's top Wild Card spot.

Cincinnati has now lost eight of 10, prompting questions of whether the team is lacking the intensity needed with September looming.

"There was urgency right after the All-Star break," third baseman Todd Frazier said. "Now seeing what we've been through, we can only go up from here. Everybody knows it's a new day. We're playing St. Louis. We can gain a couple of games here within the division. We're still not out of it in the division. We beat some of these teams here, we still have a shot."

The Cardinals will play 29 of their final 38 games against division foes. All but 12 of those 38 games will come against teams currently sitting below .500.

"I try not to manipulate the schedule to say, 'Hey, we'd rather play these guys,' because then those guys could come back and really bite you. But it's nice play teams that you're trailing," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "I'm sure over there they're looking forward to trying to gain some ground on a team that is ahead of them right now. That's how this is supposed to work.

"But it really does come to the same boring answer. Whoever they put out there against us is who we're going to have our best stuff against."

John Lackey will make only his second career start against Cincinnati. It'll be his third at Busch Stadium start since he joined the Cardinals late last month.

Lackey will be opposed by Reds right-hander Alfredo Simon, who has fallen on hard times. He hasn't won a game since the All-Star Break and has posted a 5.46 ERA in his last six starts.

Reds: Frazier returns to lineup
Frazier was back in the lineup Monday after missing last weekend's series in Colorado with a sore back.

The third baseman admitted that he's not fully recovered, estimating that he's at about 60 or 70 percent.

"For me, it's running," Frazier said when asked what is giving his back the most difficulty. "Every time I move, it kind of stiffens up on me. It's a little tight hitting. It's getting better and better each day. The training staff has been doing a great job. If I'm out there, I'm going to give it what I've got."

Cardinals: Holliday contributes in return
St. Louis outfielder Matt Holliday returned to action Monday after a one-day break to nurse a sore left knee.

It was a successful night for Holliday. He entered the game hitless in his previous 18 at-bats but doubled and drove in a run.

Prior to the 0-for-18 stretch, Holliday hit .438 (7-for-16) over a four-game span.

Worth noting
• The Reds are in danger of dropping yet another series in St. Louis. In their last 20 series there, they've gone 1-18-1.

• Monday was Jay Bruce's 890th game in right field for Cincinnati, setting a new club record for games at that position.

• These teams will play each other nine more times this season. Comments