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WSH@CIN: Bailey fans six, holds Nats scoreless

Neither the Reds' Homer Bailey nor the Cardinals' Jake Westbrook was particularly sharp in his season debut, yet neither one gave up an earned run.

Bailey and Westbrook will square off on Wednesday afternoon at Busch Stadium in the finale of a three-game series, perhaps looking to find better means to the same end. They also will be battling to secure a series win after their teams split the first two games.

Bailey put up a strong line in a 15-0 win over the Nationals on Friday, holding Washington to two hits and three walks while striking out six. But he said afterward that he didn't feel at his best, relying heavily on an effective fastball that he pushed up to 95 mph.

"The fastball was pretty good," Bailey said. "It felt like we were always in fastball counts. Very early in the game, I was going with what was working."

The 26-year-old right-hander will be trying to extend a streak of 19 consecutive scoreless regular-season innings, which goes back to last year.

Westbrook battled his mechanics in San Francisco on Friday, when he threw 116 pitches and walked six batters in 6 2/3 innings. The righty allowed one unearned run and struck out one in a 1-0 defeat.

He attributed the control problems to an issue with his delivery, which messed with his release point. That left his go-to pitch, the sinker, more erratic than usual.

"It was a grind. It was a battle," Westbrook said. "I felt like with me fighting my delivery the way I was, to only give up one run was pretty good. You can't really expect to win a ballgame walking six guys, and that's something I need to do a better job of."

Reds: Choo sparking lineup
• Cincinnati acquired Shin-Soo Choo this offseason to fill its leadoff spot, and the center fielder has been fulfilling his mission of getting on base. With a 2-for-4 game on Tuesday, Choo extended his hitting streak to six games and has reached base safely in all eight contests.

Choo currently sports a .512 on-base percentage, a year after Cincinnati leadoff men combined for a .254 OBP.

• Second baseman Brandon Phillips went 0-for-3 on Tuesday, snapping a six-game hitting streak in which he was 11-for-27 (.407) with four doubles and two home runs. He did drive in the club's lone run in the 5-1 loss with a sacrifice fly.

Cardinals: Freese slated to be back in lineup
• Third baseman David Freese didn't play on Tuesday, a day after making his first appearance of the season following a stint on the disabled list. But manager Mike Matheny said the decision was more about matchups than any physical problems with Freese.

Freese said he came out of his first game feeling good. He is expected to start on Wednesday against Bailey, against whom he is 3-for-14 with two home runs.

• An MRI on closer Jason Motte's elbow revealed a low-grade ligament tear, which could lead to season-ending Tommy John surgery. For now, the right-hander has been shut down with the hope he can resume a throwing program by May 1.

In the meantime, Matheny is trying to figure out what to do with a bullpen that has been struggling in Motte's absence. There was improvement on Tuesday, when Edward Mujica, Trevor Rosenthal and Mitchell Boggs combined for three shutout innings

Worth noting
• Bailey is 3-7 with a 5.00 ERA in 13 career starts against the Cardinals and 0-3 with a 5.49 mark in five outings at Busch Stadium. Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and Freese all have notched two homers off Bailey, with Holliday hitting .440 (11-for-25).

• Westbrook owns a 3.90 ERA in 10 career games against the Reds, including 2.51 over two outings last year. Chris Heisey has reached him for three home runs in 12 at-bats. Comments