The Cardinals didn't get the sweep I was hoping for that would bloody the Reds' collective nose and leave the Birds only four games out of first place in the National League Central Division with more than a month of games left to play.
But they did bounce back after a discouraging Saturday night loss to pound Cincinnati 8-2 Sunday afternoon -- and to keep chipping away at what now stands as a six-game deficit.
Although much has been made of his decreased velocity, Adam Wainwright has re-assumed the role of team ace. He held the Reds down in this all-important game while the Birds built a five-run lead.
In the sixth inning Wainwright got into some trouble and had a 5-2 lead with runners at the corners and two out when skipper Mike Matheny decided to pull him from the game. The lanky hurler wasn't happy about it. And he was probably even more miffed when Marc Rzepczynski came out and threw three straight balls. But the lefty reliever steadied and got a line out to Matt Holliday in left field to end the threat. The Reds never seriously challenged the Birds again.
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The Cardinals opened a three-run lead in the third inning when Skip Schumaker led off with a double. Rafael Furcal popped out weakly to centerfield to cloud what was once a promising scoring opportunity, bringing Wainwright and his .118 average to the plate. But the St. Louis starter came through with a single to move Skippy to third. Jon Jay then singled to push Schumaker across the plate and when Matt Carpenter singled the bases were loaded for Matt Holliday.
Batting .444 with the sacks jammed this season, Holliday came through again with a two-run single and the Birds were off to a fast start.
In the sixth, Holliday led off with a triple. Allen Craig then one-upped Holliday with his 20th homer of the year to make the score 5-0
After stopping the Reds' bottom of the sixth rally at two runs, St. Louis scored two more runs in the top of the seventh when Holliday doubled in Shane Robinson and Craig singled in Holliday. In the top of the ninth Holliday took one more shot, driving in the last St. Louis run with another base hit.
Wainwright improved to 13-10 with the victory with a 3.63 ERA. The Cardinals dropped Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey to 10-9 with a nine-hit outburst that plated five runs over six innings.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Holliday had four hits in five at bats with two runs scored and four driven in to raise his batting average to .309 and push his RBI total to a National League leading 89.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Craig's sixth inning homer.
Lowlight: David Freese was unable to play for the second consecutive game after being hit on the wrist by a pitch. But x-rays revealed no break and he is expected to be back in the line-up for the Cardinals Monday game in Pittsburgh.
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