Red-hot Carlos Beltran powers Cardinals to 4th straight win

ST. LOUIS -- Carlos Beltran may not be Albert Pujols, but he's doing a pretty good impression these days.

Beltran homered again Wednesday night to help the St. Louis Cardinals extend their winning streak to a season-high four games with an 11-1 rout of the slumping Cincinnati Reds.

Beltran hit a two-run shot, his fifth homer overall and second of the series.

Not bad for a second-place hitter.

"I know I'm not the typical second batter that's going to go out there and play the hit-and-run and things like that," Beltran said. "I'm not thinking that way. I'm thinking about getting good at-bats."

The Cardinals signed Beltran in the offseason in the hopes that he would ease the pain of losing Pujols in free agency. So far, he's done just that.

"Beltran's an All-Star, Golden Glove, Silver Bat," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "The guy has some accolades behind him, too."

Pujols, meanwhile, began the day with no home runs this year. The three-time NL MVP joined the Los Angeles Angels in the offseason.

Tyler Greene also had a two-run homer while Rafael Furcal had four hits and drove in two runs.

Jaime Garcia (2-0) allowed one run on seven hits and three walks. He was aided by four double plays and helped his cause with a triple off the wall in center field in the sixth that made it 7-1 and chased Mat Latos (0-2).

"He killed us with the bat and the ball," Baker said. "He kept us off-balance and he got those double plays. Four double plays, that's a killer. That's eight outs on four pitches."

Garcia was happy for the help from his defense.

"The double plays are a good sign," he said. "Basically every time I get someone on base, that's what I want to do."

The Reds have dropped five of the first six games on their 10-game road trip and are already five games in back of the Cardinals in the NL Central. Devin Mesoraco drove in Cincinnati's only run with an infield single in the fifth.

Latos lasted 5 2/3 innings for his longest stint of the year, but was touched for eight runs on nine hits while walking three and striking out six.

The Cardinals greeted Latos rudely as Furcal doubled down the line in right leading off the first and Beltran followed with a walk.

Furcal later scored on Lance Berkman's infield single and David Freese delivered a two-run double.

Beltran made it 5-0 when he homered with two out in the second. That was not an uncommon occurrence -- Beltran had also homered off Latos in his two other official at-bats coming into Wednesday, though Latos did later retire Beltran for the first time in the fourth on a groundout.

"It's not like he's reading my mind," Latos said. "He's a good hitter and he looks for a certain pitch. I fell behind and he got a pitch that he wanted to hit and he did."

Game notes
Adam Wainwright, who never has started a season 0-2, will try to avoid a third consecutive defeat when he takes the ball for St. Louis on Thursday. ... Of the eight position players that started for the Reds, only three were hitting better than .200 at the beginning of the night. ... Berkman left the game in the fifth inning after aggravating a left calf injury. He was to be re-evaluated but Berkman acknowledged after the game that he could be headed toward the disabled list. ... Reds starters have not earned a victory since Johnny Cueto beat Miami 4-0 on opening day.