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Wacha, Cingrani square off at Great American Ball Park

(SportsNetwork.com) - Michael Wacha became a household name during last year's postseason. Armed with some lofty expectations, the 22-year-old right-hander takes the hill on Wednesday when the St. Louis Cardinals continue a three- game series with the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

After going 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA in the regular season, Wacha came within an eyelash of a no-hitter in the NLDS and pitched to a 2.64 ERA in five playoff games for the Cards.

Combining the postseason and the regular season, Wacha threw 95 1/3 innings, made 14 starts, won eight games, struck out 98 batters (9.3 K/9), and perhaps most impressively, recorded a WHIP of 1.04 which would have qualified him for the seventh best mark in baseball in that regard.

Wacha was 3-0 with a 1.77 ERA in five spring starts.

Nobody has to tell the Reds how good Wacha is, as they were unable to score in 10 innings against him last season.

Cincinnati will counter with an impressive young hurler of its own in 24-year- old lefty Tony Cingrani, who was 7-4 with a 2.92 ERA in 23 games (18 starts) for the Reds last season as a rookie. He also struck out 120 batters over 104 2/3 innings.

Cingrani will hope for a little more run support than Johnny Cueto received in Monday's opener, as Adam Wainwright kept the Reds' bats in check over seven scoreless innings and Yadier Molina homered for the game's only run in St. Louis' 1-0 victory.

Wainwright (1-0) held the Reds to three singles and racked up nine strikeouts while working around four walks to barely outperform Cueto in a terrific Opening Day pitchers' duel and spoil the debut of new Reds manager Bryan Price.

"It was me wanting to go out and set the tone better than I did in the World Series," said Wainwright in reference to his Game 1 loss to the Boston Red Sox in last October's Fall Classic.

The two aces were engaged in a scoreless deadlock that Molina broke with a one-out homer in the top of the seventh.

Cueto (0-1) was otherwise outstanding as well, yielding just three hits and the game's only run while fanning eight over his seven-inning stint.

"Johnny was terrific," said Price. "We're pretty accustomed to seeing that kind of pitching from Johnny."

Molina and Matt Adams each collected two hits for St. Louis, which managed just five as a team.

Cueto had set down 15 of the last 16 Cardinal hitters until Molina belted a first-pitch cutter about five rows deep in the left-field stands, and Wainwright followed with a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh to cap off his strong outing.

"(Cueto) threw me something in the middle and I put a good swing on it," said Molina.

St. Louis was 11-8 against the Reds last season.

04/02 10:47:31 ET