By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI -- Right-hander Johnny Cueto extended his scoreless-inning streak to 15 before giving up his only run Friday night, and the Cincinnati Reds won their second in a row with a depleted lineup, 6-4 over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cueto (3-1) had his way with a team that hit him hard during his brief career. He limited the Cardinals to a run and five hits in seven innings, leaving with a 6-1 lead. The 23-year-old pitcher appears to be maturing at the start of his second season in the majors, allowing only three earned runs in his last five starts.
David Weathers gave up three runs in the eighth, including Tyler Greene's first career homer -- the first runs off the reliever in 11 appearances this season. Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth, remaining perfect in his nine save chances.
Jerry Hairston Jr. doubled home a run in the first inning off Joel Pineiro (4-2) and singled home another in the second, helping the Reds pull out to a 5-0 lead.
The Reds won their second game in a row without two stalwarts. First baseman Joey Votto, who leads the team in batting at .378, and Gold Glove second baseman Brandon Phillips were sidelined again with the flu. Cincinnati also is missing shortstop Alex Gonzalez, sidelined by pulled muscles in his left side.
The question was whether Cueto could handle the NL Central-leading Cardinals, who at 19-11 are off to their best start since 1982, when they won the World Series. As a rookie last season, Cueto lost both of his starts against St. Louis, getting pounded for 13 runs in less than seven innings.
This time, they barely touched him.
Cueto was coming off the best performance of his career, allowing only four singles in eight shutout innings of a 5-0 victory in Pittsburgh on Sunday. His streak of scoreless innings reached 15 over the last three starts before Joe Thurston grounded into a run-scoring double play in the seventh.
After winning his first four starts, Pineiro has lost his last two. The right-hander gave up eight hits and five runs in six innings. His errant throw to first base extended the Reds' three-run rally in the second inning.
The start of the game was delayed 13 minutes by rain that left puddles on the warning track. ... Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter played catch Friday. Carpenter went on the DL on April 15 with pulled muscles in his left side and resumed throwing this week. "We're encouraged," manager Tony La Russa said. "It's really outing to outing, how he handles it, how much you give him the next time. But he's improving." ... Cueto's 15 scoreless innings gave him the second-longest streak by a Reds pitcher this season. Edinson Volquez has a 16-inning streak. ... CF Willy Taveras and RF Jay Bruce extended their hitting streaks to nine games.