There is a scar running near his right elbow that is all the explanation Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright needs for his ragged start to this season.

No more than four inches long, it illustrates the patience that his coaches say is required and the calendar that shows he's still less than 14 months removed from elbow reconstruction. He can point to the scar as a reason.

He insisted Thursday he sees it only as an excuse.

"That's a crutch that I'm not going to stand on," Wainwright said after allowing four runs in five innings as the Cardinals lost 6-3 to Cincinnati at Busch Stadium. "At some point, I've got to turn the page on that (surgery) and go out and execute whether I'm feeling great or not. I feel like I normally would. I'm just not executing.

"I'm missing a beat but I don't think I should be."

The Reds got home runs from Ryan Ludwick, Brandon Phillips, and Drew Stubbs as they salvaged one win from their first visit to Busch this season. The first two homers came off Wainwright, who lost for the third time in as many starts. It is only the second time in the righthander's career that he has lost three consecutive starts, and the previous streak was 17 months and one ligament transplant ago.

After the game, Wainwright sought to separate his troubles and the 15 runs he has allowed in 13 2/3 innings this season from his ongoing recovery from Tommy John surgery. He said he's in "a funk" and that a lack of success should not be confused with a lack of health or a lack of strength. The elbow is sound, he assured.