Cincinnati (62-58) at St. Louis (63-56)

Fair Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 87° F
  • Game info: 2:10 pm EDT Thu Aug 17, 2006
  • TV: FSMW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

It didn’t take long for Edwin Encarnacion to start hitting again for the Cincinnati Reds.

He’ll try to produce another big game and help the close within a half-game of the NL Central Division-leading St. Louis Cardinals when the teams conclude their regular-season series on Thursday.

Encarnacion hit two of the Reds’ five homers as Cincinnati beat St. Louis 7-2 to get within 1 1/2 games of the division lead.

The third baseman, who went 0-for-3 in a 5-0 loss Tuesday to end a 10-game hitting streak, had the second two-homer game of his career and second in five games. Encarnacion is hitting .415 (17-for-41) was six homer and 16 RBIs in his last 12 games.

Ken Griffey Jr., Rich Aurilia and Adam Dunn also homered for the Reds (62-58), who have won three of their past four and nine of the 14 meetings with the Cardinals (63-56) this season.

Six of Dunn’s 36 homers have come against St. Louis.

“From one through eight, you look at their numbers and they’ve got some thump,” Cardinals catcher Gary Bennett said. “If you miss out over the plate, they have a good chance of hitting you hard and doing some damage.”

St. Louis has lost six of its last eight. Rookie Chris Duncan went 3-for-4 with a double and is batting .519 (14-for-27) against the Reds.

Reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols, though, was 0-for-4 with an RBI.

Looking to change a struggling rotation, St. Louis pushed Jeff Suppan’s start back to Friday against the Chicago Cubs, and moved Jeff Weaver (2-3, 6.60 ERA) up a day to face Cincinnati on Thursday.

“Weaver is the pitcher, how’s that for an answer?” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “We’ve had enough time to think about what’s our best shot, and that’s what we decided. He’s getting his arm strength back and he’s making better pitches.”

Weaver beat Cincinnati on Aug. 7, allowing one run and six hits in six innings, his best outing since joining St. Louis from the Los Angeles Angels in a trade on July 5.

The right-hander allowed three runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday. Weaver is 5-1 with a 3.73 ERA in eight career starts against Cincinnati.

Encarnacion, meanwhile, is 2-for-6 while Dunn is 5-for-12 with three RBIs against Weaver.

Kyle Lohse (0-0, 2.92) has been effective in three outings for the Reds, but has yet to earn a decision. The right-hander, acquired from Minnesota on July 31, allowed two runs in five innings against Atlanta on Aug. 6, then allowed one run and six hits in 6 1-3 innings against Philadelphia on Friday, a game the Reds eventually lost 6-5 in 14 innings.

Lohse’s last victory came on May 10 in Minnesota’s 4-3 win over Texas.

The right-hander has faced the Cardinals once in his career, allowing four runs and eight hits in four innings of a 4-2 loss on July 17, 2001.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Lohse Mil vs. J. Weaver LAD
5-10 Record 8-14
5.83 ERA 5.76
97 K 107
44 BB 47
1.53 WHIP 1.51

Scoreboard

Thursday, Aug 17