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Cardinals @ Reds, May 14

It was a nail biter, but the Cardinals managed to survive a Ryan Franklin special to get back on the winning track -- and hang onto first place with a 4-3 win over the surging Reds.

Franklin gave up hits to three of the first four batters he faced in the ninth after entering the game with a two-run lead. With the advantage cut to one, the tying run on second and the winning run on first, he managed to get a grounder to Ryan franklin for a merciful game-winning double play.

Jaime Garcia pitched a strong 6 1/3 innings, allowing only a two-run homer during his time on the mound. It looked like Franklin might rob Garcia, who has a 1.42 ERA for the season, of another victory. But by hammering down the last three outs, Franklin was able to help Garcia to 4-2.

blog post photo

Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols hits his first homer in three weeks Friday against the Reds. AP photo.

Garcia has been the victim of poor run support. But Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick were both able to end their power drought with homers to give the Redbirds a 4-0 lead at one point. Pujols hadn't hit a homer in 64 at bats while Ludwick hadn't hit one in 61 at bats.

An added bonus came when Reds outfielder Jay Bruce went all Pedro Guerrero, slamming his glove to the ground after Ludwick's homer cleared the fence. Jack Clark made reference to the Guerrero moment during the post-game show.

With the win, the Birds extend their lead over Cincinnati to 1 1/2 games and end the Reds' five-game winning streak.

Cardinals Star of the Game:Garcia with five hits and one walk allowed in 6 1/3 with six strikeouts.

Cardinals play of the Game: Brendan Ryan still isn't hitting. But he started a nice double play to end the game on a ball that took a nasty hop at the last second.

Lowlight:Yadier Molina was 0-for-3 and has one hit in his last four games.