Cardinals 10, Reds 5
Pujols homered for the fifth time in four games and tied his career high with five RBIs in a 10-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night. He has plantar fasciitis in his left heel, an injury more commonly associated with long distance running.
“It’s bothering me, but when I’m out there and I cross that white line I’m ready to play,” Pujols said. “I don’t care what kind of injury I have. If I have to push it, I’m going to push it because that’s the way I am.”
Pujols, 9-for-18 with 11 RBIs in the last four games for the Cardinals, also scored his NL-leading 100th and 101st runs. He has scored 100 or more runs in each of his first four major league seasons.
Pujols hit a two-run double in the first, doubled and scored on a close play in the seventh, and hit a three-run homer off John Riedling in the eighth. It’s the second five-RBI game of the year and fifth of his career for Pujols, who also did it July 20 at Chicago.
Pujols met reporters after the game with his heel wrapped in ice.
“He is hurt, but he’s a gamer,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He runs through the pain. When he doesn’t have to run you see him back off.”
Scott Rolen drove in two runs for the Cardinals, giving him a National League-leading 104 RBIs. He had a run-scoring double in the third and an RBI single in the seventh, and has 24 RBIs in his last 26 games.
The Cardinals have won 16 of 20 and lead the NL Central by 14 games, their biggest advantage since they were 14 games in front on Sept. 3, 1968, when they won a pennant. La Russa doesn’t want to hear it, though, guarding against a collapse.
“I don’t read that part of the notes,” La Russa said. “I read the other parts that somebody sent me that talk about the ’64 Phillies and the ’78 Yankees and the ’95 Angels and on and on and on.”
Pujols got the Cardinals started with a two-run double in the first off Aaron Harang (7-5). After a lead once as large as four runs was shaved to one in a two-run seventh, he keyed a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh with a two-out double off the center-field wall against Todd Van Poppel.
Harang said there’s no particular way to pitch Pujols.
“You just pray he rolls over something or gets underneath it and pops it up,” Harang said. “That’s all you can do with him.”
Rolen followed with a run-scoring single and went to second on a throw to the plate, and scored on Edgar Renteria’s bloop hit to right center to make it 6-3.
John Mabry added a sacrifice fly in a four-run eighth against three pitchers.
The Cardinals are 12-2 against the Reds, including a pair of three-game sweeps. It’s the Reds’ worst showing against a team since they were 1-11 against the Padres in 1998.
“They’ve got everybody’s number. Are you kidding me?” Harang said. “It’s just a good all-around team. They’ve got veteran guys that know how to play and they come to play every day.”
Jeff Suppan (11-6) blanked the Reds until Sean Casey hit his 19th homer with two outs in the sixth. That ended a 14-inning scoreless for the right-hander, who allowed two hits in eight shutout innings at Florida in his last start on Aug. 11.
The Reds chased Suppan with one out in the seventh on a single by Jason La Rue and a walk by Felipe Lopez. Pinch-hitter Juan Castro followed with a two-run triple off Ray King to cut the gap to 4-3, but King recovered to get the final two outs and preserve the lead.
Harang lasted five innings, giving up four runs—three earned—on six hits.
After Rolen’s RBI double in the third, he scored on Lopez’s two-out throwing error from short on Renteria’s grounder to make it 4-0.
The Reds are 22-40 since June 6, when they led the NL Central by two games. They’re 21 1/2 games back, their largest deficit of the season.
Reds SS Barry Larkin (oblique) missed his fourth straight start. … Suppan was 0-for-2 with a sacrifice and is 0-for-46 at the plate since his last hit on July 28, 2003. That hit came off Brett Tomko in St. Louis when Suppan played for the Pirates. … Suppan is 0-for-41 this year, and Harang is only slightly better at the plate, going 1-for-41. … Cardinals starters are a major league-best 57-29. Last year, the rotation combined for 42 victories.