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Molina homers as Cardinals blank Reds

Apr 25, 2011 - 6:04 AM St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - Yadier Molina belted a three-run homer to back a strong start by Jake Westbrook, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a 3-0 win over Cincinnati in the rubber match of a three-game series.

Westbrook (2-2) yielded just three hits and three walks in six innings, striking out four to help St. Louis win for the fourth time in five games.

Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez and Mitchell Boggs set down nine of the final 10 batters to preserve the Cardinals' third shutout of the season. Boggs worked around a Joey Votto double in the ninth to record his third save.

Molina's blast off Edinson Volquez (2-1) in the sixth inning was one of seven St. Louis hits. Molina and Lance Berkman had two apiece.

Volquez lasted one more batter after surrendering Molina's homer, taking the loss in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up six hits and three walks, striking out seven.

"I just made a mistake, wrong pitch to him," Volquez said about Molina's homer.

Brandon Phillips had two of Cincinnati's four hits, while Votto raised his average to .395 with a 1-for-2 showing.

Westbrook allowed just one baserunner -- a leadoff walk in the second to Jonny Gomes, who was caught stealing second -- and faced the minimum before Phillips doubled and Votto walked with one out in the fourth. He got Gomes and Jay Bruce on fly balls to end the inning.

Molina broke open a scoreless game, homering over the left-center field wall on a first-pitch sinker in the sixth as rain fell at Busch Stadium. The blast scored Matt Holliday, who doubled, and Berkman, who was intentionally walked.

"Every time you hit a home run, what do you want?" Molina asked rhetorically. "You want to be mad? Or sad? No. You've got to enjoy it, man. Especially me. I don't hit a bunch of home runs. Every time I get an opportunity to enjoy it, that's the way you have to play this game. Fun."

Salas struck out two in the seventh and Sanchez fanned a pair in the eighth for two perfect innings. After Votto doubled with one down in the ninth, Boggs struck out Gomes and Bruce to end the game.

Game Notes

St. Louis leads the National League Central by a 1/2 game over Milwaukee and one game over Cincinnati...The Cardinals are headed to Houston for a three- game series that starts Tuesday, while the Reds begin a three-game set in Milwaukee on Monday.