By John Fay
Enquirer staff writer
ST. LOUIS - The Reds, searching for someone to bridge the gap from starter to closer, tried going a little longer with closer Danny Graves Tuesday night.
It didn't work.
Graves came in with one out in the eighth inning and proceeded to let six runs score, as the Cardinals beat the Reds 7-2 before a crowd of 33,466 at Busch Stadium.
"We were trying to get five outs from Danny," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "He's very capable of it. It just didn't happen tonight."
St. Louis Cardinals' Larry Walker (33) is congratulated by teammates Reggie Sanders, from second left, Marlon Anderson, Albert Pujols and Tony Womack after Walker hit a grand slam in the eighth inning off Danny Graves.
The Cardinals' domination of the Reds continued. The Reds are 2-13 vs. St. Louis. The loss put the Reds (56-63) 22 1/2 games behind the Cardinals and in a last-place tie in the National League Central.
Graves' rough night - which included a grand slam off the bat of Larry Walker - ruined the best start of Brandon Claussen's short career with the Reds.
Claussen went six innings, allowing one run on five hits. He struck out three and walked three.
Most impressive was the way he pitched out of jams in the first and third against the heart of the order.
"I was very impressed with him," Miley said, "especially against the club like this."
It was the first quality start - six innings or more, three runs or fewer - by a Red in eight games.
Claussen left after six innings with a 2-1 lead. Gabe White and Joe Valentine got the game to the seventh with the lead intact.
But Valentine hit Scott Rolen to start the eighth. After he got Edgar Renteria on a nice play by shortstop Felipe Lopez, the Reds brought in Graves to face Jim Edmonds, who was 2-14 against him lifetime.
Edmonds grounded one through the middle to score Rolen and tie it. It was Graves' 13th blown save of the year.
After an intentional walk to pinch hitter Marlon Anderson, Reggie Sanders singled to load the bases. Graves got John Mabry to fly out to left.
But Tony Womack walked to force in the go-ahead run. Walker hit the next pitch out to straightaway center for his first home run at Busch Stadium as a Cardinal.
"They've got Larry Walker batting second," Sean Casey said. "That shows what kind of lineup they have."
Claussen was coming off the worst of his five starts with the Reds. He allowed seven runs in three innings a week ago in an 11-1 loss to Los Angeles. His problem in that one was control. He walked five, including four in the four-run first.
He showed early on that he was much sharper.
"I established the fastball in early - that makes the plate bigger away," he said. "That forces hitters to be aggressive."
Womack and Walker singled in the first to make it first and third with no outs. Albert Pujols got Womack in and sent Walker to second with a fly to deep center. But Claussen got Rolen to pop out to second and got Renteria on the groundout to keep it at 1-0.
The Reds tied it in the third. Ryan Freel singled and stole second. He went to third on D'Angelo Jimenez's flyout. Casey got Freel home with an infield single.
The Reds took the lead in the fourth. Jason LaRue doubled with two outs. Lopez followed with a single to drive in LaRue for a 2-1 lead.
White took over for Claussen. White got the first two outs of the seventh, then allowed a single to Walker.
The Reds, searching for a bullpen answer, brought in Valentine to face Pujols, who hit the first pitch well into the upper deck - foul. Valentine ended up getting Pujols to take a called third strike.
Then came the ugly, ugly eighth.
E-Womack (12). LOB-Cincinnati 10, St. Louis 9. 2B-LaRue (16), FLopez (10), RSanders (20). 3B-LaRue (2). HR-LWalker (9), off Graves. RBIs-Casey (75), FLopez (14), Womack (31), LWalker 4 (31), Pujols (93), Edmonds (81). SB-Freel (23). S-Freel. SF-Pujols.
Runners left in scoring position-Cincinnati 5 (Dunn 3, FLopez, Claussen); St. Louis 3 (Renteria, Matheny, Morris).
Runners moved up-DJimenez, Casey, Renteria.
DP-Cincinnati 1 (FLopez and DJimenez).
|GWhite H, 6||2/3||1||0||0||0||0||9||6.83|
|Valentine H, 1||2/3||0||1||1||0||1||12||10.29|
|Graves L, 1-5|| BS, 9 2/3||4||5||5||2||0||27||3.86|
Inherited runners-scored-Valentine 1-0, Graves 1-1, Kline 1-0.
|Eldred W, 3-0||1||1||0||0||0||2||13||3.78|
IBB-off Graves (RSanders) 1, off Claussen (Matheny) 1. HBP-by Valentine (Rolen), by Morris (JaCruz), by Claussen (Womack).
Umpires-Home, Doug Eddings; First, Darren Spagnardi; Second, Jeff Kellogg; Third, Dan Iassogna.
T-3:00. A-33,466 (50,345).
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