Monday, June 4th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Mike Matheny hit his first home run in nearly two months and doubled to start the winning rally as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 Sunday night.

The Cardinals have won two straight after a four-game losing streak, and 17 of 26 overall. The Reds have won only four of their last 13 road games after a 10-4 start.

Mark McGwire made his fourth start since coming off the disabled list from a knee injury and was 0-for-3 with a walk to drop his average to .114 (4-for-35). He flied out to the warning track in the first.

Mike Timlin (2-2), the fourth of seven St. Louis pitchers, pitched a perfect seventh. Dave Veres worked the ninth for his eighth save.

The game was delayed 44 minutes by rain after Pokey Reese hit a three-run homer, snapping an 0-for-14 slump, with nobody out in the fourth for the game's first runs.

Matheny, who had been in an 8-for-54 slump with two RBIs since May 1, hit his third homer in the fifth and first since April 8 after Edgar Renteria led off with a checked-swing single for the Cardinals' first hit. Renteria tied it with an RBI double in the sixth.

Matheny blooped a double between center fielder Ruben Rivera and left fielder Dmitri Young to start the seventh. Pinch runner Eli Marrero went to third on pinch hitter Kerry Robinson's single and scored on Fernando Vina's groundout to first.

Robinson's hit came after he twice hit the ball on a bunt attempt, a ball that dribbled fair with Robinson easily thrown out at third. Reds manager Bob Boone sprinted out to protest after home plate umpire Ron Kulpa ruled the ball dead.

Cardinals starter Mike Matthews gave up three runs on four hits in three innings. He tried to come back after the rain delay but walked the first hitter, Donnie Sadler, and then was taken out.

In four starts as the replacement for Rick Ankiel, Matthews is 1-1 with a 4.74 ERA.

Rob Bell (0-4) lasted 6 1-3 innings and gave up four runs _ three earned _ on six hits. He struck out seven and walked three.

Notes: Matheny has only five multihit games all season. ... LF Ray Lankford got his team-high fourth assist of the season, throwing out Ruben Rivera trying for a double in the fifth. ... Left-handed hitters are 4-for-39 against Matthews, including a single by Sean Casey to lead off the fourth. ... Vina is 1-for-14 in the series. ... Bell's last victory was Sept. 13, 2000, against the Cubs. ... Reds pitchers have allowed at least one homer in 22 of the last 23 games. ... Jim Edmonds singled in the eighth, but is in an 8-for-60 slump (.133).