Catcher Yadier Molina hit a tie-breaking home run in the seventh inning to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium.
It's the Cards' tenth straight victory over Cincinnati dating back to last season, with six of those wins coming in the first month of this season.
Cincinnati matches its worst 20 game start in franchise history, tied with the 1931 Reds, who also started 3-17.
Even though he didn't get the win, St. Louis starter Carlos Martinez was solid, allowing just three hits in six shutout innings, walking three and striking out seven.
Shortstop Paul DeJong''s two run homer to left field off Reds starter Homer Bailey in the bottom of the second gave the Cards a 2-0 lead.
Dexter Fowler, who was moved into the fifth slot in the batting order with Molina bumped up to the second spot, sent a pitch from Bailey out of the park in the sixth inning to give St. Louis a 3-0 advantage.
But Manager Mike Matheny elected to pull Martinez from the game after six, and the Reds went to work on the Cards' bullpen in the seventh.
It was an inning that started harmlessly enough, with Luke Gregerson getting the first two Reds hitters on ground-outs.
But after Gregerson allowed a hit to Phillip Ervin, Matheny brought in lefty Tyler Lyons, who let the next four batters reach, including Scooter Gennett's two run single that knotted the game 3-3.
Molina saw to it the game didn't stay even for long, blasting what proved to be the game winning home run 404 feet over the wall in left-center in the bottom of the inning.
Jordan Hicks (1-0), who came in to get the final out of the seventh, pitched both the eighth and ninth to earn his first Major League win.
Even that effort didn't come easy, as the 100 plus mile per hour flame-thrower walked two batters and hit another one with one out in the ninth, but inducted Gennett to hit into a game-ending double play.
Jared Hughes (0-2) takes the loss in relief for Cincinnati.
The Cardinals improve to 12-8 on the season and move into sole possession of first place in the National League Central Division, with Pittsburgh losing to Philadelphia Saturday afternoon.
The weekend series wraps up Sunday afternoon with Miles Mikolas (2-0, 4.25 ERA) getting the start for the Cardinals.
Luis Castillo (1-2, 6.75 ERA) takes the mound for the Reds.
Molina tallied his 800th career RBI with his home run in the seventh inning.
Fowler's homer broke an 0-15 slide and gave him 99 career round-trippers.
Cards second basemen Kolton Wong made an amazing running catch of a pop-up in the sixth inning with his back to the infield, then firing to first to double-up Gennett.
If the Reds lose Sunday's game, it will mark their worst 21 game start in franchise history.