A.J. Reed did his part Friday night, but it wasn't enough for Kentucky.
Eric Anderson's three-run homer in the eighth inning carried Missouri to an 8-7 win over the 12th-ranked Wildcats in the opening game of a three-game series at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Reed, UK's left-handed dual threat, pitched seven innings of five-run (four earned) ball, striking out a career-high 10.
At the plate, he singled, doubled, homered and drove in four runs.
"Overall, I thought it was one of my best outings, just from a personal standpoint," said Reed, whose previous high strikeout total was eight. "They got some hits off me and they hit the home run. I felt like maybe one other hit besides the home run was hit pretty hard. I felt like it was soft contact, and I hit a batter in there.
"I felt like tonight was my best night command-wise with all my pitches, so it was a good step forward. The first-pitch strike was a lot higher than it has been, so it's progress."
UK (22-12, 6-7 Southeastern Conference) will try to even the series Saturday when Dylan Dwyer makes his first SEC start. He fills in for Chandler Shepherd, who has a lacerated forearm.
Missouri led 5-2 through six innings. UK erupted for five runs in the seventh, but the bullpen couldn't hold a 7-5 lead.
"We've actually been pretty good at that most of the year, coming back," Coach Gary Henderson said of UK's big inning. "So that part's really encouraging and will serve us well moving forward. Obviously we'd like to get started a little bit earlier in the game.
"And your next question's going to be — yes, we'd like to be a little more efficient in the bullpen."
Both teams struck for a run in the first.
Missouri (16-16, 5-8) had Anderson lead off the game with a double. Two outs later, he scored on Dylan Kelly's bloop single to left.
In the bottom of the inning, Max Kuhn drew a one-out walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Reed brought him home with a double to left-center.
The Tigers tacked on an unearned run in the second.
Dillon Everett, who reached on a one-out single, went to third on Arnold's two-out base hit to right. An errant throw by right fielder Kyle Barrett enabled Everett to continue home.
Kelly crushed a 1-1 offering to right field for a one-out solo home run in the third for a 3-1 Missouri lead.
Reed led off the UK fourth with his SEC-leading 13th homer of the season, a high-arcing shot to right-center. The Cats eventually loaded the bases, but couldn't push across the tying run.
Reed then retired the first two Missouri batters before finding trouble in the fifth.
A hit batsman, single and walk loaded the bases for Ryan Howard, who delivered a two-run bloop single to right-center. That put the Tigers on top 5-2.
That's the way it stayed until the seventh, when UK loaded the bases with no outs via an infield single, an error and a walk.
Missouri Coach Tim Jamieson replaced starter Brett Graves, bringing Austin Tribby in to face Reed.
His bad-hop single off the glove of first baseman Kendall Keeton scored two and left runners on the corners.
Breckin Williams replaced Tribby on the mound.
Micheal Thomas greeted Williams with a single through the left side, tying the game.
Ka'ai Tom bounced a two-strike single into right field, bringing Reed in with the go-ahead run. Pinch-hitter Storm Wilson drove in Thomas with a sacrifice fly to center.
The lead didn't last, as Missouri got to the Kentucky bullpen in the eighth.
After two singles and a sacrifice off of two UK relievers, Anderson welcomed a third, Spencer Jack, with a three-run home run to left-center.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com