ST. LOUIS — Jake Westbrook sprang from the dugout in the ninth inning Wednesday, determined to finish what he started.
His St. Louis Cardinals teammates had provided him with a 10-0 lead and Westbrook, knowing he was at 100 pitches, didn't want to give manager Mike Matheny time to contemplate a change.
"He was making a statement," Matheny said. "I told him I was doubting him a little bit about being ready to go back out there. He was hopping in between pitches, too. He wanted to make sure he gave the appearance that he was ready to go, and he was."
Westbrook (1-1) dusted off Cincinnati with an 11-pitch ninth, recording his fourth career shutout and his first since Aug. 9, 2006, against the Los Angeles Angels when he was with Cleveland.
"It always means a lot when you can finish what you started," said Westbrook, who collected his 99th career victory. "That's kind of what you're looking for to do every time out. Obviously, you can't do it every time out, but you can have that goal and attempt to do it, strive for that. It's good to get that accomplished."
Westbrook, 35, allowed just five hits, walked four and struck out three. He recorded 17 ground-ball outs.
"I felt good," Westbrook said. "The ball was in the zone and was really moving a lot. I was getting ground balls, and that's good to see. I know when I'm good, I'm getting lots of ground balls."
Westbrook was coming off a 1-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Friday, when he allowed one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings. Westbrook threw 116 pitches against the Giants, a count that was driven higher because he issued six walks.
"I threw less pitches today than I did last start," he said. "That's what I told (Matheny): 'I've thrown less than last start, so I might as well keep going.' He let me do it, which was great. It's nice to see the confidence he has in me to be able to go out there and do that."
Westbrook said his ninth-inning sprint to the mound was mostly about his desire to speed up the game.
"I'm always trying to get out there and get my warmups in," he said. "I like the game to go quick. The quicker I get out there and get my warmups over with, the quicker the game can get back going."
Westbrook even chipped in with an RBI single in the seventh, part of an overwhelming 14-hit attack that was highlighted by home runs from Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran, Matt Adams and Matt Carpenter.
"That was huge," Westbrook said of the run support, nonexistent during his first assignment. "It lets me relax and actually be even more aggressive than I can be. It's awesome to see, the way we've exploded the last couple of nights."
After losing their home opener 13-4 on Monday when Cincinnati scored nine runs in the ninth, the Cardinals outscored the Reds 15-1 in taking the final two games.
"I think it's a great point about resiliency," Matheny said. "You've seen some teams and I've seen some teams have a couple of tough losses and not really know how to bounce back from those. You're just kind of wondering, 'Is this going to be a long run of some things not going our way?'
"But these guys are so beyond that. They have one of those days and they can't wait to get out and prove differently. They certainly showed a different brand the last two days. It's been encouraging all the way across the board. ... It's fun to watch."
Matt Holliday never has been known for his defensive proficiency and perhaps never will be, but the left fielder impressed Matheny on Tuesday when he chased down Brandon Phillips' sacrifice fly in the gap that appeared to have double written all over it.
"That could have been a huge turning point of that game," Matheny said Wednesday morning.
Instead, the Reds got just one run in the fourth inning and St. Louis overcame it with a 5-1 victory.
After the game Tuesday, Matheny said he never had seen Holliday cover as much ground as he did to pull down Phillips' drive. Matheny elaborated on Holliday's defense Wednesday.
"One, physically, he feels good. Two, just anticipation and the drive to get any ball in the air," he said. "I think a lot of it has to do with communication, too, where he picks up Jon and sees that's a ball he's not going to get."
Asked whether Holliday is making a concerted effort to be a better outfielder, Matheny demurred.
"I think he's just a professional who wants to excel at everything he does," Matheny said. "I've seen him work every year. I don't see anything different this year. He's feeling good, he's strong and he's always working at getting better. That's one area of his game he wants to get better --just like every other area."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.