I'd like to dedicate a little bit of Journey to our good friend Brandon Phillips:
It's been a mystery and still they try to see
Why somethin' good can hurt so bad
Caught on a one-way street, the taste of bittersweet
Love will survive somehow, some way
One love feeds the fire
One heart burns desire
I wonder, who's cryin' now
Two hearts born to run
Who'll be the lonely one?
I wonder, who's cryin' now
For the second game in a row since Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips started flapping his gums, the Cardinals let their bats do the talking. This time they beat the Reds 8-4 to guarantee a series victory, passed Cincinnati by percentage points to lead the NL Central division and gave themselves a chance for a sweep on Wednesday.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (second from right) is separated from Reds jerk/second baseman Brandon Phillips (left) in between halves of the first inning Tuesday in Cincinnati. AP photo.
The game started with fireworks. The Cardinals scored a run in the top of the first when Reds leftfielder Johnny Gomes botched a Felipe Lopez fly ball that was mysteriously called a double and Albert Pujols hit a grounder to drive him home.
Then, in the bottom of the inning, Cincinnati loudmouth Brandon Phillips came to the plate to lead off for the Reds. He tapped his bat on the shinpads of St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina in an apparently peace offering after profanely criticizing the Redbirds on Monday. Molina was having none of it. He kicked Phillips' bat away and when the REds second sacker turned to get in the box, Yadi got in his face and gave him some nose-to-nose whatfor.
In the post-game interview Molina said he told Phillips "if you're going to talk bad about my team and talk bad about me, don't say hi to me and don't expect me to be in a good mood."
Good for hi. I love a guy who stands up for his teammates.
The benches cleared and Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter ended up roughhousing with former teammate Scott Rolen while Cincy starter Johnny Cueto kicked former Red Jason LaRue with his spikes after getting corner against the backstop by the scrum.
In the second inning, Molina was roundly booed when he came to the plate. And he responded with a home run into the left field stands to extend the St. Louis lead to 2-0. I don't think Molina looked so happy rounding the bases since he hit the game winning homer in the seventh game of the NLCS in 2006.
The Reds tied the game in the bottom of the third inning. But the Birds put up three runs in both the sixth and the seventh innings to put the game out of reach.
I gripe when things are going bad. So I want to give credit when it's due. First, the Cardinals have showed more grit than they have all season. They stood their ground and didn't blink both between the lines and in the extracurricular activities. They've hit better than they have most of the year. If not for too many walks being issued by the pitching staff, the Reds wouldn't have even been in the first two games.
Matt Holliday was 4-for-5 on the night with a run and three RBIs to raise his batting average to .306. Colby Rasmus only had one hit in five at bats. But he scored a run and drove in another. He also made two very nice catches to keep Reds runs off the scoreboard.
All in all it was a very strong TEAM effort. The Cardinals were much more poised in the field and at the plate than were the Reds who made three (really four) fielding errors. Former Redbird Jim Edmonds made a vital baserunning mistake in the sixth with two outs when he rounded second base and Lopez cut off Holliday's throw and threw it behind Edmonds.
Jaime Garcia got the win to improve to 10-5 with 5 1/3 innings pitched and only two hits allowd. He he walked five to contribute to four earned runs being charged to his 2.71 ERA. I give Garcia a TON of credit however, for keeping his poise and performing well after all the excitement between the halves of the first inning.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Molina
Cardinals Play of the Game: Molina's second inning homer
Lowlight: Phillips was 1-5. I was really hoping he would go o-fer the series.