By John Fay
Enquirer staff writer
The reason Jesus Sanchez started against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday was matchups.
The Reds set their rotation so Sanchez, a left-hander, would face the Cardinals instead of the Chicago Cubs.
"It's not an exact science," Reds manager Dave Miley said.
And it didn't exactly work out Thursday.
Sanchez allowed four runs in four innings as the Cardinals beat the Reds 7-2 before a crowd of 31,961 at Great American Ball Park.
"I had one bad inning," Sanchez said. "I left some pitches up, got behind (in the count), and they got me."
It doesn't seem to matter much who starts for the Reds against the Cardinals this year. Thursday's victory was St. Louis' sixth in seven games.
The Cardinals' lead over the Reds in the National League Central is back to a season-high 81/2 games.
The way the rotation works, Paul Wilson and Cory Lidle, the Nos. 1 and 2, will face the Cubs. That might be sound strategy. The way the Cardinals are playing, the Reds' only hope for the playoffs is probably a wild-card berth.
The Reds had Sean Casey and Ryan Freel back in the lineup. Casey came off the disabled list (strained calf) and Freel was back after missing four games (knee).
It didn't make a lot of difference. In their past four games against the Cardinals, the Reds have scored eight runs.
Thursday, the Reds and the Cards each had 11 hits. The Reds were 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
The Cardinals got two-run homers from Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen.
Freel led off the game for the Reds with a single up the middle. He stole second.
Barry Larkin followed with a little roller that pitcher Matt Morris fielded on the first-base side of the mound.
Morris' throw was well over first baseman Pujols' head. Freel scored and Larkin ended up at second.
The Reds left Larkin stranded at third. That was a sign of things to come.
Sanchez had limited the Cardinals to two runs on six hits over six innings in his last outing - a 4-2 loss July 7.
He started strong again. He limited St. Louis to one hit through three innings.
Then came the fourth.
Edgar Renteria led off with a single to left. Sanchez fell behind Pujols 3-0. Pujols, of course, had the green light. He used it, lining a ball into the seats in the left-center to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.
An out later, Sanchez walked Reggie Sanders for the second time. Sanders stole second and went to third on Jim Edmonds' groundout.
He scored when So Taguchi laid down a perfect bunt - the ball rolled dead on the high grass along the third-base line.
Mike Matheny followed and lined an 0-2 pitch to the wall into right-center for a double. Taguchi scored to make it 4-1.
The Reds were doing very little against Morris. Jason LaRue led off the second with a single and Wily Mo Pena led off the fourth with a double. But the Reds could not advance either one.
The game was going much like Morris' July 6 start against the Reds. He gave up three runs in the second inning of that one and then blanked the Reds for the next five.
The Cardinals made it a 5-1 game in the sixth. Morris got the run with a two-out single.
The Reds had a major opportunity to rally in their half of the sixth. Adam Dunn, D'Angelo Jimenez and Pena all singled to right to load the bases with no outs.
But LaRue hit into a fielder's choice, eliminating Dunn at the plate, on the first pitch. Brandon Larson grounded to Renteria at short, forcing LaRue. Larson beat the relay to first, allowing Jimenez to score and make it 5-2.
The Cardinals broke it open in the seventh. Renteria led off with his fourth hit of the night - a double to right. An out later, Rolen hit his 19th home run of the year.
|Van Poppel p||0||0||0||0||0||0||.133|
|Vander Wal ph||0||0||0||0||1||0||1.000|
E-Morris (1). LOB-St. Louis 6, Cincinnati 10. 2B-Renteria (22), Matheny (13), Dunn (16), WPena (4). HR-Rolen (19), off Riedling; Pujols (23), off JSanchez. RBIs-Pujols 2 (62), Rolen 2 (82), Taguchi (12), Matheny (25), Morris (5), Larson (14). SB-RSanders (14), Freel (15). S-JSanchez. GIDP-Pujols.
DP-St. Louis 1 (Womack and Pujols); Cincinnati 1 (Larkin and Casey).
|Morris W, 10-6||6||8||2||1||1||4||114||4.20|
Inherited runners-scored-Tavarez 1-0.
|JSanchez L, 0-2||4||5||4||4||2||2||70||7.53|
T-3:00. A-31,961 (42,271).
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