CINCINNATI — For three innings Monday night, Cincinnati Reds right-hander Mike Leake was nearly untouchable.
In the fourth inning, the St. Louis Cardinals found Leake "omni-touchable" as the first six batters hit safely en route to a seven-run inning and a 7-3 victory at Great American Ball Park.
The Cardinals thus cut the Reds' lead in the NL Central to a single game and snapped Cincinnati's four-game winning streak. Game two of the three-game series is set for Tuesday night at 7:10.
Cards right-hander Chris Carpenter (13-3) held the Reds to two runs over seven innings. He allowed five hits and three walks, striking out five.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"I had a good game plan. I felt like I was executing early," said Carpenter, who has a club-record nine consecutive wins against the Reds. "They hit some balls hard, too. They were definitely super-aggressive out there early in the counts and it got me some quick outs.
"We threw up the seven runs there and it just made it that much easier to stay aggressive and continue to get outs."
Skip Schumaker's first career grand slam highlighted a seven-run fourth inning for St. Louis. The six consecutive hits came off a total of 12 pitches, the last three of those hits coming on first-pitch offerings.
"They found some holes," Reds Manager Dusty Baker said. "They were still hitting ground balls, like they were earlier, but they were getting through there. We can't get anybody up (in the bullpen) in time to get loose. I mean, that was six runs in about 12 pitches, and the big one was the grand slam."
Leake (7-4) held early, giving up a pair of second-inning singles through three innings.
Jon Jay led off the fourth with a double. Then came consecutive singles by Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus and Yadier Molina to give the Cards a 2-0 lead.
Schumaker drove Leake's next pitch over the fence adjoining the Reds' bullpen in left-center. His fourth homer of the season traveled an estimated 408 feet and pushed the lead to 6-0.
Leake struck out the next two batters, but a single by Felipe Lopez signaled a call to the bullpen for Carlos Fisher. Lopez advanced two bases via a steal and passed ball, then scored an unearned run on a Pujols single.
Meanwhile, Carpenter limited the Reds to three hits and two walks through six innings.
"We hit some balls pretty good, but the guy's tough," Baker said. "He had his curveball going today big-time, and that was his out pitch. His fastball was pretty good, but it was moving."
With one out in the seventh, Jay Bruce drew his second walk of the night. He scored from first on Ramon Hernandez's double down the left-field line.
One out later, pinch hitter Juan Francisco singled through the left side to score Hernandez.
Hernandez added a ninth-inning solo home run off Kyle McClellan.
Carpenter was visibly perturbed twice.
When he went to the mound in the first inning, there was a delay because shortstop Brendan Ryan had been hitting balls in the cage underneath the stands. When he emerged to take the field, he couldn't remember where he had stashed his glove.
Carpenter also seemed upset in the seventh inning.
"I didn't want to give up any runs," he said. "I was throwing the ball well and my pitch count was low, and I just wanted to keep going. And, unfortunately, I found a way to get my pitch count up and get myself out of that game."
Despite the tight pennant race, the game drew a crowd of 36,353. Listed capacity of Great American is 42,319. ... Reds righty Logan Ondrusek pitched a scoreless ninth inning, running his streak to 22 consecutive scoreless frames over 20 games. ... Paul Janish went 0-for-4, snapping his season-high five-game hitting streak. ... Brandon Phillips (0-for-5) is hitless in his last 10 at-bats. ... Laynce Nix (1-for-3) has 12 hits in his last 24 at-bats. ... Fisher set a career high by striking out five over 31⁄3 innings.
■ Major League Baseball made a scoring change Monday in the Reds' 7-6 loss to Pittsburgh last Tuesday. A ball hit by the Pirates' Lastings Milledge, originally scored a double, was changed to an error on third baseman Scott Rolen. The change adjusts the number of earned runs allowed by the Reds from six to zero.