Right-hander Brad Penny got the usual two runs the Cardinals had provided him in his first seven starts. But this time Penny had his first misstep of the season.
Unable to keep the ball down and victimized early in the count, Penny, though he fanned seven, gave up 13 hits (some of them well-placed "bleeders") and seven runs in five innings and the Cardinals did little against Cincinnati right-hander Bronson Arroyo.
Reds manager Dusty Baker put it squarely on cleanup Matt Holliday in the first inning. After Jon Jay had blooped a one-out double, Baker didn't hesitate to issue the 13th intentional walk of the season to Albert Pujols. Holliday, an awful 8-for-47 (.170) with men in scoring position, bounced into a double play.
"That's a risky move to (issue) an intentional walk in the first inning... but they made it work," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
Penny couldn't help himself in the second, bunting into a double play. Then, in the fifth, the Cardinals had the bases loaded with nobody out but scored only one run as Colby Rasmus, notably, failed to deliver, grounding into a fielder's choice with two on and one out.
For the first time all
season, the Cardinals fell out of first place, a half-game behind
"We just got beat," La Russa said. "They had better at-bats and they pitched better. But we took this as an important series."
The surprising inability of the Cardinals to deliver with runners in scoring position continued to be a theme.
"It's been like this all year long," said Pujols. "Why, I don't know. But we're only a half-game out of first place. If we would be in last place, we'd be a little more concerned."
Penny had been 5-0 with a
1.80 earned run average in six career starts in
"It wasn't good," said Penny. "I've got to do a better job of keeping my team in the game."
REDS 7, CARDINALS
2: The Cardinals
scored two or fewer runs for the 12th time in 17 losses. The Cardinals, typical
of their recent play, went 1-for-7 -- that hit being right-hander Brad Penny's
first hit of the season -- with men in scoring position.
NOTES AND QUOTES
RHP Mitchell Boggs seems to have righted himself after some inconsistency. The hard-throwing Boggs fanned four of the seven men he faced in two scoreless innings.
RF Ryan Ludwick's hitting streak was stopped at eight games when he fanned as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning.
C Jason LaRue, who made just his fourth start of the season, hit his first homer of the year to go with a single. LaRue had had just one single in his first 13 at-bats before Sunday.
Before Sunday's loss dropped them a half-game behind the Reds, the Cardinals hadn't been out of first place in the National League Central Division since July 30 of last season, a span of 94 games.
2B Skip Schumaker may be about to resume his leadoff role. He reached base twice more on Sunday while batting sixth and his hitting streak was extended to six games.
By The Numbers:
9-Number of games the Cardinals went without a home run before they hit two on May 14. That was their longest dry spell since they had 10 homerless games in May 2007.
Quote To Note:
"I stopped worrying about where my body was, where my hands were… I went back to just trying to see the baseball."
-RF Ryan Ludwick, who had slipped into the .250s before going on an eight-game hitting streak recently.
INF Felipe Lopez (strained right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list April 26. He resumed baseball activities May 11, and he might rejoin the Cardinals as soon as May 17.