Bronson Arroyo got braids in his hair, hoping to end a long slump and a big series in style.
The new hairdo didn't do a thing.
Scott Spiezio hit the last of the Cardinals' three homers off Arroyo yesterday, and St. Louis gained a soothing series split with a 6-1 victory over the Reds in Cincinnati that left the NL Central rivals right where they started.
The Cardinals held their ground while in town, leaving 3 1/2 games ahead of second-place Cincinnati.
``It's not the end of the world," Arroyo said.
Rather, it was a snapshot of how things have gone for two teams that seem to be racing in reverse. Both have losing records over the last two weeks, unable to take advantage of the other's struggles.
After blowing a ninth-inning lead Wednesday night, the Cardinals were encouraged to leave with a four-game split.
``To come back after we got beat like that last night, that was impressive," manager Tony La Russa said.
Jim Edmonds and Chris Duncan also homered off Arroyo (9-8), so frustrated by a seven-week slump that he got his shoulder-length hair braided into cornrows two days earlier to try to change his luck.
Instead, the All-Star pitcher matched his career high for homers allowed and remained winless since June 19. He's 0-5 in his last 10 starts with a 5.29 ERA, a stretch of futility that includes three blown saves by his bullpen.
So, do the cornrows go?
``I think I'll keep them for a while," Arroyo said. ``I'm about at the end of my rope, superstition-wise. Maybe I'll have to bring in a live chicken or something."
Duncan added another solo homer in the ninth off Rheal Cormier, his first two-homer game of the season.
Rookie Anthony Reyes (4-5), who has helped the Cardinals' rotation get through a series of injuries, struggled with his own medical problem -- an upset stomach -- through five shutout innings. He gave up a pair of hits, walked two, and hit three batters.
Reyes has made 11 starts this season, filling in for injured Chris Carpenter, Sidney Ponson, and Mark Mulder at various times. Most of his starts have been brief -- only three have lasted six innings.
A day after closer Jason Isringhausen gave up a game-ending, two-run homer to David Ross in the Reds' 8-7 comeback win, the bullpen held on. Adam Wainwright allowed Javier Valentin's pinch-hit solo homer in the seventh.