Reds make it three out of four, defeat Cardinals 6-2

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If they hadn’t gotten so bunt happy on Wednesday, the Reds might have made it a clean sweep. As is, they should be pretty pleased to have taken three out of four from the visiting Cardinals with their 6-2 win on Thursday.

Todd Frazier hit two of the Reds’ four homers in support of Tony Cingrani, who struck out seven in his first start back from the DL. Cingrani allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings while improving to 7-3.

The Reds also got homers from Shin-Soo Choo and Jay Bruce. The only bad news on the night was that Brandon Phillips was lost to a quad contusion, though he might be back on Friday.

The Cardinals’ big concern at the end of the night was the continued struggles of All-Star Lance Lynn. He’s 0-5 in his last six starts, giving up 26 earned runs in 34 innings over the span. Tonight, he surrendered three of the four homers, allowing four runs over five innings in all. He’s now 13-10 with a 4.37 ERA for the season.

Thanks to the Reds, the idle Pirates now have a 1 1/2-game lead in the NL Central at 81-58. The Cards are 80-60, with the Reds three games back at 79-62.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.