ST. LOUIS -- Crank up the hype machines.

St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Alex Reyes is no longer a prospect by definition, now that he's a big leaguer with a clean inning under his belt to boot.

Reyes retired the Cincinnati Reds on 11 pitches in the ninth inning Tuesday night and could be back in action Wednesday evening when the teams close out their three-game series in Busch Stadium.

The 21-year old right-hander backed up the scouting reports with live stuff. He fanned his first batter, All-Star left fielder Adan Duvall, with a 101 mph fastball, then got consecutive bouncers to the right side as what remained of a crowd of 40,113 stood and applauded.

"It's amazing, it's a dream come true," Reyes said. "I was out there having fun. It turned out pretty well for me."

Reyes' first major league inning also drew the attention of Cincinnati manager Bryan Price.

"It was electric," Price said of Reyes' stuff, which also included a pair of knuckle-curves. "He's a top of the rotation talent. It looks like they have another good one."

However, Reyes' successful debut didn't keep St. Louis (59-54) from falling a game behind Miami for the National League's second wild-card spot. The Cardinals' 7-4 defeat dropped them to 3-5 in a nine-game stretch against two of the NL's last-place team that ends Wednesday night.

Winning the series' rubber game doesn't figure to be easy for St. Louis. It has to solve Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (6-0, 2.94), who was 3-0 against the Cardinals last year.

DeSclafani will be opposed by St. Louis left-hander Jaime Garcia (8-8, 4.04), who notched a 1-0 win Friday night against Atlanta, whiffing 11 as he tossed a three-hit shutout over eight innings.

Garcia owns a sterling 10-4 career record against Cincinnati with a 3.75 earned run average in 20 career outings. At home, those numbers are even better, as Garcia is 7-1 with a 2.32 ERA.

The key for success in this one for Garcia might be keeping Reds leadoff man Billy Hamilton off base. The center fielder has stolen nine bases in the last three games, including three Tuesday night, and has 48 in 54 tries for the season.

With Cincinnati (46-66) out of contention for a playoff spot, winning the major league stolen base title carries some cachet for Hamilton.

"It's always good to lead the league in something," he said. "The job of the leadoff man is to get into scoring position."

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