By Kevin Kelly
Enquirer staff writer
When he returned from the All-Star break, Jose Acevedo sported a new-look hairdo.
The Reds pitcher's dark brown hair had been dyed a traffic light shade of yellow.
The cosmetic change, based on what took place Sunday at Great American Ball Park, did little to change his mound luck.
The Cardinals scored six runs off Acevedo in just 2 1/3 innings, providing the foundation for a 10-4 win over the Reds before 31,699 fans.
"He made some mistakes and missed his spots sometimes," Reds catcher Jason LaRue said. "He was throwing some close pitches and they weren't swinging."
The brief outing by Acevedo continued a dismal stretch for the hard-throwing 26-year-old.
He is 1-5 with a 7.94 ERA and has allowed 61 hits (including 11 home runs) in his past nine starts. In three of those, Acevedo has failed to pitch past the third inning.
"In a nutshell, when he keeps the ball down his stuff is as good as anybody's," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "He's just got to be consistent."
The Reds as a whole are battling their own consistency problems.
They have lost eight of 10 games against the Cardinals this season - six of seven since July 5 - and again trail the National League Central leaders by 9 1/2 games.
The Giants hold a 2 1/2-game advantage over the Reds in the wild-card standings.
"We can't change our focus," LaRue said. "The focus is to win as many games as we possibly can.
"We can try to catch up to the Cardinals or catch up to the wild card. We just have to stay focused, go out and play fundamentally sound baseball. We can't afford to make mistakes."
St. Louis scored one run off Acevedo in the second, then took a 6-2 lead with a five-run third inning.
Shortstop Edgar Renteria led off the inning with a home run.
First baseman Albert Pujols worked the count to 2-and-2, and took ball three on the corner.
"From my standpoint in the dugout," Miley said, "it looked like (Acevedo) let that pitch affect him."
Acevedo walked Pujols and allowed the next three batters to reach base. A sacrifice fly stopped the run, during which two runs scored, but was followed by a two-run double from Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny that made it 6-2.
"You've got to forget that (pitch) and get the next guy out," Miley said. "It kind of just escalated a little bit for him."
Half of the Reds' offense Sunday came from right fielder John Vander Wal, who has come back after offseason knee surgery.
Making his first start in a Cincinnati uniform, Vander Wal hit a two-run home run off Jeff Suppan in the second inning. The hit put the Reds ahead 2-1.
"I think it was just a big moment getting back on the field," said Vander Wal, who finished 1-for-2. "It was nice for me to do something in my first start. But the big picture is that we didn't win."
The Reds' 24-game stretch against Central opponents continues with a two-game series against Milwaukee and a five-game road trip to Chicago and Pittsburgh.
"We've got a crucial week coming up," Vander Wal said. "We've got to get back in this thing."
|Vander Wal rf||2||1||1||2||0||0||.500|
|Van Poppel p||1||0||0||0||0||0||.125|
LOB-St. Louis 6, Cincinnati 4. 2B-Rolen (20), Edmonds 2 (26), Mabry (5), Matheny (14), Casey (27), Dunn (17). HR-RSanders (15), off Van Poppel; Renteria (7), off JoAcevedo; Vander Wal (1), off Suppan. RBIs-Renteria (41), Rolen 2 (84), Edmonds 2 (59), RSanders (46), Mabry (21), Matheny 3 (29), DJimenez (29), WPena (34), Vander Wal 2 (2). SB-Dunn (4). S-Suppan. SF-Mabry. GIDP-WPena, Hummel. DP-St. Louis 2 (Rolen, MAnderson and Pujols), (Pujols, Renteria and Pujols).
|Suppan W, 9-5||6||7||4||4||1||2||96||3.48|
Suppan pitched to 3 batters in the 7th. IBB-off JoAcevedo (RSanders) 1. T-3:00. A-31,699 (42,271).
|Van Poppel||2 2/3||1||1||1||0||3||35||5.62|
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