CINCINNATI — Micah Owings' pitching is finally catching up to his bat.
The Cincinnati right-hander homered and pitched into the seventh inning to help the Reds beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-2 on Saturday.
Owings (6-8) allowed six hits and two runs in 62⁄3 innings with two walks and six strikeouts for his third win in his last four starts.
"I just feel like I'm taking the same approach every game," Owings said. "I come in here, get ready between starts and focus on each pitch — and I know the guys behind me will help."
Reds Manager Dusty Baker says Owings and Homer Bailey, who set a career high with 71⁄3 innings in Friday's 7-4 loss to the Cardinals, are getting their feet on the ground.
"They're getting some innings behind them," Baker said. "Guys tend to get sharper. Owings certainly had his breaking ball going pretty good today."
Joey Votto also homered and drove in two runs, and Willy Taveras had three hits to help lift the Reds to their third win in four games.
Reliever Nick Masset, who had to leave Friday's game after Yadier Molina lined a ball off of his right bicep as the leadoff hitter in the ninth inning, got Albert Pujols to ground out with runners on first and second and two outs in the seventh inning. That was less than 24 hours after Pujols hit a grand-slam in the eighth inning to give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead.
"I threw my best stuff at him," Masset said. "I really didn't try to stay away from him. I wanted to go at him, but keep it out of his power zone."
Francisco Cordero pitched a perfect ninth for his 20th save.
Colby Rasmus, who went into the game leading NL rookies with eight home runs and 29 RBI, gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead with a one-out homer in the first inning. That run was the first scored by St. Louis for Brad Thompson in his last three starts.
The Reds tied the score in the bottom of the inning on Taveras' one-out single to center and Votto's first triple of the season, a line drive into the right-field corner that caromed past right fielder Rick Ankiel and rolled along the right-field wall.
Owings gave the Reds a 2-1 lead in the second with his third homer of the season and eighth of his career, a 391-foot shot off the roof of the Reds bullpen in left-center field.
"I put a good swing on it, drove through it and got it up enough to go out," he said. "I won't ever complain. I'm blessed that I can swing the bat. I enjoy it, and I take pride in it. I always have, and I always will."
Thompson knew Owings was dangerous, especially when he gets a hittable pitch.
"I threw him a cement mixer of a breaking ball, and he did some work on it," Thompson said.
Votto hit Thompson's first pitch of the fifth inning 420 feet into the right-field seats for his 10th homer of the season and first since June 25.