The Cardinals nearly succeeded in their ploy to steal a game from the Reds Friday night with their worst starter on the hill against the Reds' best hurler.
Manager Tony LaRussa started Jake Wesbrook and his over 5.00 ERA to give the top of the rotation a little bit of extra rest during the All-Star Break against Cincinnati ace Johnny Cueto. And if Fernando Salas would have been able to make one more pitch it would have worked.
With the Cardinals ahead by a run thanks to Albert Pujols turning around an Aroldis Champman 100 MPH fastball which he launched for a two-run homer in the eighth, Salas came in for the ninth. He got a lineout and a flyout around a seeing eye single. But he made one bad pitch to Cincy second sacker and hot dog Brandon Phillips. And Phillips hit it into the first row of the left centerfield stands of the Great American Band Box.
Westbrook allowed a homer to the first hitter of the game and then settled down until giving up another solo shot in the fifth. His biggest shortcoming on the night was lasting only six inning. That -- and the tightness of the game -- caused La Russa to use every pitcher in his bullpen.
Cardinals star of the Game: Pujols Was 2-for-5 with a pair of runs scored and a pair driven in. His batting average climbed to .282.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Jason Motte, with the bases loaded, one out and the Cardinals down by one, got Scott Rolen to hit into a 1-2-3 double play that was not only a fine example of pitching... But also a pretty nice job of fielding.
Lowlight: Salas' blown save. If he had to blow the game, couldn't he have let somebody besides Phillips hit the dinger.