Cincinnati opened its season with just one win in its first five games, and went as many as eight games under .500 in April.
The Reds fell to 6-14 on April 22, but have since gone 13-5 to even their record for the first time this season. Cincinnati is on its best stretch of 2003, which began with a four-game sweep over St. Louis from May 5-8. The Reds beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-5 on Sunday for their sixth win in seven games.
“Coming from where we were to get back to .500 after 38 games is very gratifying because I thought it would take us 50 to 70 games to reach .500,” Reds manager Bob Boone said.
Cincinnati’s recent run of success can be attributed to its ability to hit home runs, especially in its final at-bat. The Reds lead the NL with 59 homers and have 10 wins in their last at-bat, with six of those victories coming on walk-off homers.
“There’s a special feeling in the air,” Cincinnati first baseman Sean Casey said. “It’s just phenomenal. Words can’t describe it.”
Starting with the sweep at the hands of Cincinnati, the Cardinals have lost five of their last six. St. Louis appeared to be breaking out of its slump on Sunday, but its game with the Chicago Cubs was postponed with the Cardinals leading 11-9 in the top of the fifth inning.
Martinez hit two homers and Pujols had a grand slam that were wiped out, but those statistics weren’t the only thing lost for St. Louis.
Right fielder and backup catcher Eli Marrero had to be carted off the field after severely spraining his right ankle when he slipped in the wet grass going after a fly ball.
“I don’t know why we started in the first place,” Pujols said. “It was a big mistake to start. The only guy who loses is Eli. We don’t care about the game. We care about Eli. They canceled the game. It doesn’t count.”
Marrero will undergo surgery Tuesday to repair ligament damage in the ankle.
STANDINGS: Reds - 4th place, 2 GB, NL Central. Cardinals - 2nd place (tied), 1 1/2 GB, NL Central.
REDS PROBABLE STARTER: Paul Wilson (1-3, 5.45 ERA). Wilson faced St. Louis in his last outing and allowed four runs and 10 hits over five innings, but he didn’t figure in the decision as the Cardinals won 8-6 on Thursday. The right-hander has allowed seven homers in his last three starts, posting an 8.62 ERA over that span.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Simontacchi (1-2, 5.85 ERA). The right-hander lost to the Cardinals in his last start, allowing four runs— three earned—and four hits over six innings of a 4-2 loss Wednesday. Simontacchi has a 2.66 ERA over his last three starts, but has just one win over that time.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Reds - Casey, .306 avg.; Adam Dunn, 12 HRs; Austin Kearns, 29 RBIs; Kearns and Aaron Boone, 26 runs; Boone, 7 SBs. Cardinals - Edgar Renteria, .360 avg. and 30 RBIs; Pujols and Scott Rolen, 8 HRs; Pujols, 28 runs; Renteria and Fernando Vina, 3 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Reds, 4-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Reds - CF Ken Griffey Jr. is joining the Reds on their road trip, but it is highly unlikely he will play. He has been on the disabled list since separating his right shoulder while diving for a ball on April 5. … . … 1B Casey is batting .415 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 15 road games this season. Cardinals - RHP Simontacchi is 2-2 with a 3.52 ERA in five career starts against Cincinnati. … SS Renteria is batting .412 (7-for-17) with one homer and three RBIs during his five-game hitting streak. … CF Jim Edmonds is batting .513 with four homers, eight doubles and eight RBIs at Busch Stadium this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Reds - 6-10 on the road; Cardinals - 10-4 at home.
INJURIES: Reds - OF Russell Branyan (shoulder), 15-day DL; CF Griffey Jr. (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jimmy Haynes (back), 15-day DL; RHP Luke Prokopec (shoulder), 60-day DL. Cardinals - C Joe Girardi (back), 15-day DL; C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Jason Isringhausen (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Lance Painter (pelvis), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF J.D. Drew (back), day-to-day; OF-C Marrero (ankle), day-to-day.