CINCINNATI (AP) Alfredo Simon usually takes a strike before taking a swing. The Cincinnati right-hander was more aggressive, and it paid off against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Reds starter doubled on the first pitch of his first at bat and then swung at the first pitch of his second plate appearance before slashing another two-bagger that drove in the go-ahead run of a 4-2 Reds win on Wednesday night.
''Sometimes, (manager Bryan Price) tells me to take a strike, but sometimes, the fastball I get on the first pitch is the only chance I have to get a hit,'' said Simon, who was hitting .098 going into the game.
Simon shook off a rough start but lasted seven innings, and Ryan Ludwick hit a solo home run to help the Reds win back-to-back games for the first time since Aug. 27-28 against the Chicago Cubs. The Central Division-leading Cardinals hadn't sustained consecutive defeats since a four-game losing streak from Aug. 26-30.
''He was a little erratic early, but he rallied,'' Price said of Simon.
Simon (14-10) allowed five hits and two runs with three walks and five strikeouts for his second win in eight decisions over 11 starts since the All-Star break.
''I gave up the two runs in the first inning, but I kept fighting,'' Simon said. ''Everything was working.''
Sam LeCure and Ryan Dennick pitched the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman worked a perfect ninth for his 32nd save.
Terry Lyons (0-4) took the loss after Cardinals starter John Lackey was ejected in the third inning for arguing balls and strikes.
Plate umpire Tom Hallion ejected Lackey four pitches into the third inning.
''Lackey was warned to quit arguing balls and strikes, and he continued to argue,'' Hallion said.
The ejection caught Lackey by surprise.
''I didn't say any cuss words toward him,'' Lackey said. ''He saw my mouth moving and threw me out. It was unexpected, for sure. I've been thrown out a few times throwing balls at people, but never for something like this''
With the game tied 2-2, Jay Bruce led off the Reds' fourth inning with a bloop single. Simon, who entered with one career double, went the opposite way to drive in Bruce with the go-ahead run.
Brandon Phillips added a bases-loaded, run-scoring single in the fifth to make it 4-2.
Simon retired the first two batters of the game before the Cardinals scored two runs. Matt Holliday walked and scored from first on Matt Adams' double. Oscar Taveras followed with a run-scoring single.
Todd Frazier drove in Chris Heisey with a single in the first, and Ludwick tied it for the Reds in the second with his ninth homer and first since Aug. 17 - a 374-foot shot into the left-field seats.
Lackey was ejected for the fourth time in his career and first since 2009 when he was with the Angels and was ejected two pitches into a game for throwing at Texas' Ian Kinsler.
The Reds acquired from Milwaukee minor-league RHP Kevin Shackelford and RHP Barrett Astin on Wednesday as the two players to be named in the Aug. 31 trade that sent RHP Jonathan Broxton to the Brewers.
Cardinals: Manager Mike Matheny got no argument from SS Jhonny Peralta when the veteran was given Wednesday off. Peralta missed just three of St. Louis' first 145 games. ''He wants to finish strong,'' Matheny said. ''He's answered the bell.''
Reds: RHP Pedro Villareal's status remained day-to-day after he was hit in the right forearm by Holliday's sharp one-hopper in the ninth inning of Monday's 5-0 loss.
Cardinals: Lance Lynn tries to improve to 4-0 in four 2014 starts against Cincinnati in Thursday's series finale.
Reds: Johnny Cueto will look to avoid dropping to 0-3 in three starts this season against St. Louis.