The Redbird Report 09/03

CARDINALS 3, REDS 2: RHP Braden Looper pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, for the second consecutive start.

For the first time since they were 6-5, the Cardinals have made it over .500. The pitcher who put them over .500 in April was the same one who enabled them to complete a series sweep of the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday -- right-hander Braden Looper, who pitched seven scoreless innings for the second consecutive start. Looper is 7-1 with an ERA well under 2.00 for his daytime starts, and he's 12-10 overall. As for finally nudging over .500, manager Tony La Russa said, "Enjoy the moment. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, but we're a winning club today and it's September." The Cardinals will go the rest of the season without ace right-hander Chris Carpenter and second baseman Adam Kennedy, third baseman Scott Rolen and right fielder Juan Encarnacion, all of whom are out with injuries. Encarnacion's serious eye injury, suffered on Friday, is the most recent. But La Russa said his club has been resilient all season. "I don't know if we're good enough. But I know as far as our hearts and our heads, we're good enough there," he said. Right fielder Rick Ankiel, extending his hitting streak to eight games, homered to drive in one run and hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh for what proved to be the winning run. That flyball came after a bold steal of third by rookie third baseman Brendan Ryan. "I would love to take credit for it," said La Russa. "He just spotted something." CARDINALS 3, REDS 2: RHP Braden Looper pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just four hits, for the second consecutive start. In fact, over his last five starts -- each of which covered at least six innings -- Looper has allowed only four hits in each of them. His ERA is 1.41 over that stretch, and he is 3-1 in that time. RHP Jason Isringhausen gained his 28th save in 30 tries.

NOTES AND QUOTES

-- RF Juan Encarnacion might have to wait several days before his damaged left eye can be operated on to repair multiple fractures in the socket. It could take that long for the swelling and bruising to recede. Encarnacion was hit by a foul ball off the bat of INF Aaron Miles while Encarnacion was standing in the on-deck circle on Friday night.

--RF Rick Ankiel has hit six home runs since being recalled from Class AAA Memphis, and five have come at Busch Stadium.

--The Cardinals are 18-5 at Busch Stadium on Sundays in the two years the new ballpark has been open.

--The Cardinals hadn't swept the Reds in St. Louis since the last three games played in the previous Busch Stadium in 2005.

--IF Brendan Ryan is batting .414 as a ninth-place hitter in manager Tony La Russa's new configuration. He was 2-for-3 Sunday.


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