CINCINNATI -- Once Kyle Lohse relaxed, everything was a breeze.
The right-hander rebounded from the worst outing of his career with one of his best of the season Saturday night, pitching into the eighth inning and hitting a sacrifice fly while leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Reds reached the halfway point of their season at 31-50, the worst record in the majors. It's their worst midpoint mark since they also were 31-50 in 2005.
This one meant a lot to Lohse (4-10), who had already reached double digits in losses and wanted to set things right after a rough time last Saturday in Seattle, where he gave up a career-high eight runs in a 9-1 loss.
"I go back and look at film, and it looks like I'm trying to do too much," Lohse said. "There's a fine line between trying to do too much and doing what I can."
On Saturday, he did it all.
His sacrifice fly completed a no-frills rally in the sixth off Adam Wainwright (6-7), who let the game get away because he couldn't find the strike zone. The Reds scored three runs on a single, three walks, a hit batter and the sacrifice fly.
Catcher David Ross also had a two-run homer off Wainwright, who failed to retire a batter in the sixth for his shortest start since May 15.
"After the fifth inning, it's 2-1 and I'm thinking I'm going to go six, seven, eight innings and keep my team in the game," Wainwright said. "I don't know what the heck happened in the sixth inning."
The NL's worst bullpen -- Reds relievers have a league-leading 18 losses -- preserved the win for Lohse, who gave up five hits and one run while striking out eight.
"Awesome. Outstanding," Ross said. "I've said time and time again that he's got some of the best stuff on the staff. We talk a lot about putting it together and trying to get into a rhythm, because when he gets into a rhythm, he's dominant."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa fumed that Lohse got a lot of help from St. Louis hitters.
"No explanation, no excuses," La Russa said. "We just had a lot of bad at-bats. Nothing wrong with (Lohse's) stuff, but we've got to have better at-bats than that. It was way too easy. We've got to make it tougher on him."
In another demonstration of manager Jerry Narron's lack of faith in his setup relievers, closer David Weathers got the final five outs in a non-save situation.
"It was looking a little bit like last night," Narron said, referring to Cincinnati's three-run meltdown in the eighth inning of a 4-2 loss. "We weren't going to have anybody else trying to get those outs."
Thousands of St. Louis fans chanted "Let's go Cardinals!" after Yadier Molina hit a sacrifice fly in the second inning, drawing boos from the home fans who sounded outnumbered for most of the game.
An equipment oversight nearly cost the Cardinals in the first inning, when Chris Duncan tried to play left field without sunglasses. He lost Scott Hatteberg's fly ball in the harsh sun, letting it drop for a leadoff double.
Wainwright pitched out of the threat, saving his left fielder another measure of embarrassment, and didn't allow another hit until Josh Hamilton led off the fifth with an infield single. One out later, Ross ended an 0-for-14 slump with a homer to left field for a 2-1 lead.
Then, it was the Reds' turn to overcome an embarrassing moment and get the cheers turned around.
Ken Griffey Jr. led off the sixth with a walk, but had to be persuaded to go to first base. He lost track of the count and stayed in the batter's box after ball four, waiting for another pitch. With a little grin, he eventually went on his way.
The Reds loaded the bases on Adam Dunn's single and a walk to Edwin Encarnacion. Wainwright then walked Hamilton on four pitches to force in a run and end his outing. Russ Springer hit Alex Gonzalez on the arm with a two-strike pitch for another run, and Lohse finished the rally with his sacrifice fly.
Cardinals infielder Scott Spiezio was released from a hospital in New York on Saturday and returned to St. Louis. Spiezio had been getting antibiotics intravenously for an infection in his left index finger. ... Cardinals right-hander Braden Looper is expected to be activated off the disabled list and start on Monday against Arizona. Looper has been sidelined since June 16 with a sore pitching shoulder. ... Reds reliever Mike Stanton is close to returning from a pulled hamstring. He's eligible to come off the DL for the start of a series against San Francisco on Tuesday.