The Cardinals turned in another dominant performance of one of the National League Central rivals, smashing the Reds 7-1 in Cincinnati.
The Birds made two quick outs in the first inning before Matt Holliday hit a solo homer to put St. Louis on the board. Reds starter homer Bailey pitched around Lance Berkman and David Freese hit an opposite field blast to make the score 3-0. And, apparently not wanting to be left out of the fun, Yadier Molina hit a solo shot to put the Cardinals up by four.
St. Louis hurler Jake Westbrook, who was spectacular this spring following a weak 2011 campaign, carried over his pitching success into the regular season with a seven-inning performance in which he allowed only one run on two hits. If I had a gripe it is that he issued too many free passes, walking four Reds. I hate to see the Cardinals give Cincinnati the opportunity to make up a lot of ground on one swing of the bat in their bandbox of a ballpark. But Westbrook was able to keep potential problems from getting out of hand.
The Birds put the game out of reach in the eighth inning when Berkman walked and Freese singled. Molina drove them both in on a double to make the score 6-1 and then Matt Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Molina to make the score its final 7-1 margin.
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For all their opinions about the Cardinals-Reds rivalry, I was pretty surprised to see the stands at the Great American Ballpark considerably less than full during the first St. Louis/Cincinnati tilt of the season. I couldn't see the whole ballpark. But it seemed that the areas where the Redbirds deposited their home runs were only half to two-thirds full.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Molina was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three more driven in.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Freese's home run. He's making a pretty good argument against teams passing Berkman.
Lowlight: Rafael Furcal and Carlos Beltran couldn't get in on the fun, going 0-for-8 in the top two spots in the St. Louis line-up.