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Ross, Reds sweep struggling Cardinals

Sep 13, 2007 - 9:20 PM CINCINNATI (Ticker) -- The St. Louis Cardinals won't have to worry about defending their World Series championship if they don't defend their National League Central Division crown.

David Ross hit a two-run home run to highlight a four-run fifth inning and Aaron Harang pitched seven strong innings as the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Cardinals, 5-4, on Thursday to earn a three-game series sweep.

The Cardinals (69-75) have lost a season-high seven straight games and their postseason hopes are gradually slipping away. With 18 games remaining, St. Louis finds itself 4 1/2 games behind both Milwaukee (74-71) and the Chicago Cubs (74-71) in the NL Central. The Brewers are idle Thursday and the Cubs play at Houston later.

"We're not scoring runs and we're not keeping the other team from scoring runs. It's pretty obvious," St. Louis center fielder Jim Edmonds said. "As far as why we're not coming out and playing better, I don't know.

"We're a little flat, things aren't going our way, and we're not playing good baseball. All those add up to losses. It's really no different than it was at the beginning of the year. It's just a bad time for it right now."

Winning the division is the Cardinals' only realistic chance of making the postseason as they trail the wild card-leading San Diego Padres (78-66) by nine games.

"I don't derive any pleasure in knocking anyone out of the race but it's nice to win against a good team," Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "It's nice to bounce back after they swept us in St. Louis (August 31-September 2)."

The Cardinals were done in by a rough fifth inning that saw starter Kip Wells (6-17) allow four of his five earned runs.

Joey Votto's one-out, two-run double gave the Reds their first lead of the game at 3-1 and Ross followed with his 16th home run of the season to provide a four-run cushion.

Sidelined recently due to a concussion, Ross had not homered since July 23 - a span of 52 at-bats.

"The time off has given me time to work on my swing to be honest," Ross said. "I was falling forward. I was able to figure some things out and worked at staying back and loading up. It's been a long time."

Wells, who was lifted after allowing a two-out single to Norris Hopper later in the frame, allowed 10 hits and six walks while striking out two in 4 2/3 innings.

"Several times I gave up a hit and walked the next guy," Wells said. "That kind of ate at me in the fifth inning. I made mistakes. I got too much of the plate with that Votto guy and I left a fastball up to Ross."

Hopper finished with four hits and Votto had three hits and a run scored in addition to his key double.

"I'm seeing the ball pretty well," Votto said. "I'm learning something new everyday. I watch how they pitch the guys in the middle of the order. When I hit (the double), I had a good idea it wouldn't be caught but with Edmonds out there you never know."

Harang (15-4) fared much better as he allowed three runs, scattered three hits, walked two and struck out five.

"I didn't have my best stuff, but I made pitches at key times," Harang said. "I concentrated on keeping the ball down."

The righthander improved to 2-0 with a 3.48 ERA in three starts against the Cardinals this season.

"Facing a team that much, maybe it's an advantage not to have your best stuff," said Harang, who went 2-1 in four starts against St. Louis in 2006. "It keeps them off balance. Maybe they're geared up for your best stuff."

David Weathers pitched the ninth for his 30th save, though it was one of his more eventful outings.

With the Cardinals trailing 5-3, Albert Pujols led off the ninth with a double off and came home moments later on Jim Edmonds single. Ryan Ludwick gave the Reds a scare when he followed with a drive to deep left, but left fielder Buck Coats caught the ball on the warning track.

Weathers got Yadier Molina to popout for the second out of the inning and ended the game by getting Rick Ankiel to flyout to right.

"Only thing I remember now is eighth and ninth, because I like to focus on positives," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "We hit the ball hard in those innings. We gave ourselves a great chance to come back at the end of a tough game, a tough road trip (0-7). That tells me all I need to know about our club."

Pujols finished with a pair of RBI for the Cardinals, who were swept here for the first time since May 5-8, 2003.

St. Louis, winless in its last nine road games, limps back to Busch Stadium for a critical three-game series with the Cubs this weekend.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    ST LOUIS 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 4 6 1
    CINCINNATI 0 0 0 1 4 0 0 0 x 5 11 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: STL - KIP WELLS, ANDY CAVAZOS (5TH), BRAD THOMPSON (6TH), RUSS
    SPRINGER (8TH) AND KELLY STINNETT, YADIER MOLINA (7TH)
    CIN - AARON HARANG, JARED BURTON (8TH), DAVID

    Sep 13 3:17 PM


  • NL
    AT CINCINNATI - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JIM EDMONDS SCORED ALBERT PUJOLS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J EDMONDS ON FIRST, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 4
    CINCINNATI 5 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: R LUDWICK (.253, 0-FOR-3)

    Cardinals vs. RedsSep 13 3:11 PM
  • 40
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Cardinals vs. RedsSep 13 3:11 PM


  • NL
    AT CINCINNATI - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY ALBERT PUJOLS SCORED BRENDAN RYAN.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, M CAIRO ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 3
    CINCINNATI 5 TOP, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: J EDMONDS (.248, 0-FOR-2)

    Cardinals vs. RedsSep 13 2:27 PM


  • NL
    AT CINCINNATI - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY DAVID ECKSTEIN SCORED RUSSELL BRANYAN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, B RYAN ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 2
    CINCINNATI 5 TOP, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: M CAIRO (.158, 0-FOR-1, SAC)

    Cardinals vs. RedsSep 13 2:24 PM


  • NL
    AT CINCINNATI - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY DAVID ROSS (16) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 5TH OFF KIP WELLS SCORED JOEY VOTTO.
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 1, CINCINNATI 5
    DUE UP FOR CINCINNATI: A HARANG (.106, 0-FOR-2)

    Cardinals vs. RedsSep 13 2:09 PM


  • NL
    AT CINCINNATI - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY JOEY VOTTO SCORED BRANDON PHILLIPS AND EDWIN
    ENCARNACION.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J VOTTO ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 1
    CINCINNATI 3 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR CINCINNATI: D ROSS (.200, 0-FOR-0, 2 BB)

    Cardinals vs. RedsSep 13 2:08 PM


  • NL
    AT CINCINNATI - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY JEFF KEPPINGER SCORED DAVID ROSS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, N HOPPER ON FIRST, A HARANG ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 1
    CINCINNATI 1 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR CINCINNATI: K GRIFFEY JR (.284, 1-FOR-2)

    Cardinals vs. RedsSep 13 1:49 PM


  • NL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    ST LOUIS 1 1 1 0
    CINCINNATI 0 0 0 (BOT 1)

    CURRENT PITCHERS: STL - KIP WELLS
    CIN - AARON HARANG

    DUE UP FOR CINCINNATI: N HOPPER (.324, 0 HR, 9 RBI)
    J KEPPINGER (.341, 4 HR, 25 RBI)
    K GRIFFEY JR (.283, 30 HR, 9

    Cardinals vs. RedsSep 13 12:41 PM
  • 5
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    DFurrow Added 5 roots

    Cardinals vs. RedsSep 13 10:11 AM