ST. LOUIS — Back from a long stint on the disabled list, Jaime Garcia matched zeroes with Mike Leake for five innings. One pitch doomed the St. Louis Cardinals lefty.
Joey Votto's three-run homer in the sixth was all the Cincinnati Reds needed in a 4-0 victory Tuesday night.
"I guess it wasn't good enough," Garcia said. "I've got to do a better job next time when the big situation comes up."
Votto is the hottest hitter in the majors since the All-Star break, batting .561 with four homers and nine RBIs. He also walked, singled and doubled, giving him an NL-leading 37 multihit games.
Leake (9-5) allowed four hits in eight innings to win his fourth straight start amid speculation he might be dealt at the trade deadline. He allowed just two earned runs in his last 30 innings for a 0.60 ERA.
"I've constantly been checking the updates and seeing what's happening," Leake said. "Now I'll go back to doing that, now that I'm not pitching.
"I'm sure Walt (Jocketty) and the front office is happy."
Garcia (3-4), activated from the 15-day disabled list earlier in the day, made his first start since June 24 and gave up three runs and four hits in six innings. He is 10-3 against the Reds, including 7-1 at home.
"He was rolling and that was impressive to watch through five," manager Mike Matheny said. "It ended up getting away. Votto's swinging the bat well and he's not going to let a whole lot of mistakes get by."
Garcia held the Reds to one hit before the sixth, when Leake reached on a leadoff single, Brandon Phillips walked with one out and Votto hit his 19th homer, a drive to straightaway center estimated at 418 feet.
Garcia just missed on a 3-2 pitch that was inside against Phillips that would have ended the inning. After watching the replay, the lefty realized the call from plate umpire Dan Iassogna could have gone either way.
"I think that was probably a ball, but it was close," Matheny said. "Two-out walks do come back and haunt you, and you're getting into the middle of the order."
The Cardinals have been shut out in four of Garcia's eight starts.
"I don't even pay attention to that," Garcia said. "Their pitcher did an amazing job. Our offense has been the best in the game and I don't really think about those things."
Votto's one-out single in the fourth ended a string of 8 1-3 hitless innings for Garcia counting a rehab start with Triple-A Memphis. Stephen Piscotty singled for St. Louis' first hit with two outs in the fifth.
Jay Bruce added an RBI single in the ninth off Miguel Socolovich and Aroldis Chapman finished.
Cardinals cleanup man Jhonny Peralta is 2 for 20 against Leake after going 0 for 3 against the right-hander.
FEW AND FAR BETWEEN
A win Wednesday would give the Reds just their fourth series win out of 35 played since the 2003 season against the Cardinals. They have dropped nine straight series in St. Louis.
Cardinals: OF Randal Grichuk (groin) sat a second straight day but could be in the lineup Wednesday. RHP Jordan Walden (biceps) was set to begin a rehab with Triple-A Memphis. C Yadier Molina went the distance a day after being replaced in the fifth due to illness.
Reds rookie Anthony DeSclafani (5-7, 3.98 ERA) allowed three runs in seven innings and got no-decision in a loss at Colorado his last time out. St. Louis' John Lackey (9-5, 2.88) is 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA his last eight starts.
IN A PINCH
St. Louis' Jason Heyward doubled pinch-hitting for Carlos Villanueva in the eighth and is 3 for 6 in that role.