ST. LOUIS (AP) — Johnny Cueto whiffed on a chance at becoming the majors' first 16-game winner.
"He's one of the best pitchers in baseball, but there's no excuses," Cincinnati Reds teammate Brandon Phillips said after the St. Louis Cardinals caught the right-hander on a rare vulnerable game and won 7-3 to complete a three-game sweep Wednesday night. "You can't have your 'A' game all the time."
Cueto (15-7) was off-kilter from the get-go, struggling with mechanics and the humidity in a game delayed by rain after the seventh. He allowed five runs in five-plus innings, and his seven-game winning streak ended.
"I did not have control or command of what I wanted to throw," Cueto said through an interpreter. "But those are nights you are going to have."
Lance Lynn beat Cincinnati for the third straight time and Jhonny Peralta hit a bases-clearing double for St. Louis.
The Cardinals have won eight of nine and swept the Reds at home for the first time since Sept. 26-28, 2008. Cincinnati has lost 10 of 12, with Cueto getting the two wins.
"He had a lot of deep counts and close misses early," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He just labored."
Jon Jay had three hits, scored twice and was plunked by a pitch for the sixth time in six games for St. Louis. He is batting .514 (18 for 35) during a 12-game hitting streak, and has been hit by a pitch a majors-leading 16 times.
Lynn (14-8) gave up four singles and was set to pitch the eighth leading 5-0 before a 58-minute rain delay ended his outing.
The Reds scored three times in the ninth, and Trevor Rosenthal got two outs for his 37th save in 42 chances.
Phillips got his first hit of the series, a single in the Reds seventh for the 1,500th of his career. Pinch-hitter Kris Negron had an RBI infield hit in the ninth.
"Somebody told me about it, they said I needed one more hit, and I said, 'One more hit for what?'" Phillips said.
"I want to catch Pete Rose," Phillips added with a laugh. "That's my next goal."
Cueto had numerous mound conferences with catcher Brayan Pena and was pulled after walking Lynn on four pitches to load the bases with none out in the sixth.
Cueto had been 7-0 with a 2.24 ERA in his previous eight starts, including 3-0 this month. But matched his shortest outing of the year and season high with four walks, plus hit two batters.
Jay singled and scored on Matt Holliday's double in the third. Jay reached on a two-out infield hit in the fifth, leading to Peralta's three-run double.
Reds: RHP Carlos Contreras gave up two runs and got two outs in the eighth. He was taken out after a misstep on a pitch after play resumed. Price had no immediate update after the game ... Closer Aroldis Chapman missed the first two games with a sore left shoulder and played catch Wednesday.
Cardinals: C Yadier Molina, recovering from a torn ligament to his right thumb, took swings for the first time indoors. He's been throwing in pregame workouts for a few days.
Reds: Rookie LHP David Holmberg (0-0, 16.88) makes his second career start to open a four-game series Thursday at home against Atlanta.
Cardinals: After a day off, RHP Adam Wainwright (15-7, 2.40) will flip spots with Shelby Miller and start on regular rest Friday night at Philadelphia.