Bruce homers twice to lead Reds past Cardinals
CINCINNATI (AP)—The St. Louis Cardinals aren’t exactly rolling into the National League playoffs.
St. Louis manager Tony La Russa is concerned that the Cardianls might be too relaxed.
“You want to compete the best you can,” La Russa said. “You don’t want to turn anything off. You can’t turn it off and turn it on. Nobody is that good.”
Joel Pineiro(notes) (15-12) allowed seven runs and eight hits in six innings to fall to 1-3 in his last four starts for the Cardinals, who wrapped up the NL Central title with a 6-3 win at Colorado on Saturday.
“I got behind a lot of hitters,” Pineiro said. “I left a lot of balls up. It was not a good day for me all around. I was not getting out in front. I was trying to throw the ball around the plate but the ball was moving a lot. When I got ahead, I couldn’t finish them. When I got behind I wanted to challenge them. I didn’t want to give them a walk. I got too much of the plate and when I did they hit it hard.
“I’m glad I get one more start. I want to finish on a good note. I need to fine tune some things and get ready for the next level.”
Albert Pujols(notes), who entered with an NL record-tying five grand slams this season, just missed another one when he hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth off Homer Bailey(notes) that center fielder Willy Taveras(notes) caught just short of the warning track. The Cardinals slugger went 1 for 3, leaving him with a .328 batting average.
“I knew he got under it a little bit, but it’s still a little scary, especially in this ballpark,” Bailey said. “Somebody as strong as he is can pop it up and it still will go over the fence. That was a big sigh of relief for me.”
Bailey (7-5) allowed one run and seven hits to improve to 5-1 with a 1.89 ERA in his last eight starts.
“Bailey threw the ball great,” La Russa said. “He hit the catcher’s glove all night long. We got a lot of hits but when the pitcher is throwing like that you’re not going to do a lot.”
Bailey also earned his first career win against a St. Louis lineup that impresses Reds manager Dusty Baker.
Bruce got Cincinnati off to fast start in the second, hitting a 3-1 pitch into the visitors’ bullpen in right for a three-run homer. Phillips led off the inning with an infield single and Scott Rolen(notes) followed with a walk.
It was Bruce’s 21st homer and second in his last three at-bats. He went deep in the ninth inning Saturday in Houston and grounded out as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning on Sunday.’
Bruce is 12 for 32 with four homers and 16 RBI in 13 games, including six starts, since missing two months with a fractured right wrist. He credited his sudden surge to a change in his footwork.
“I stopped double-tapping,” he said, referring to eliminating an extra step with his front foot. “That gives me more time to see the ball.”
Votto hit his 24th homer in the third and the Reds added three more in the sixth to make it 6-1. Rolen hit an RBI single before Bruce hit a drive into the seats in right-center.
NOTES: Bruce has five multihomer games in his career, three this season. … St. Louis 3B Troy Glaus(notes) pinch-hit in the seventh inning in his first appearance since being sidelined since Sept. 12 with a strained muscle in his left side. Glaus was activated on Sept. 1 after spending the entire season on the DL while coming back from right shoulder surgery late in spring training. Glaus hit .176 in eight games before his latest injury. … Molina has “a great chance” to play in Cincinnati, La Russa said. Molina left Saturday’s game in Colorado with a bruised left knee. … Cardinals C Matt Pagnozzi(notes) made his major league debut, entering the game in the bottom of the seventh. … Pete Rose watched part of the game from field-level seats behind the plate. … Bailey improved to 1-3 with a 7.06 ERA in five career starts against the Cardinals.