It seems safe to say that second-year center fielder Colby Rasmus had the biggest hit of his career in the fifth inning of Wednesday's game.
Batting with the bases loaded in a scoreless duel between the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright and the Reds' Bronson Arroyo, Rasmus walloped the first grand slam of his career, hitting a drive of some 430 feet to dead center field.
The slam, the second of the series for the Cardinals (Skip Schumaker had the other one), sparked a win that gave the Cardinals only their second three-game sweep of the season and moved them a full game ahead of the Reds, who didn't seem quite ready for prime time this week.
It also made for a happy 24th birthday for Rasmus, who battled back from an 0-2 count to solve Arroyo.
"He's always tough on me," Rasmus said. "He makes me work, mixing speeds. He happened to leave a changeup out over (the plate). I was looking for it."
Manager Tony La Russa said, "It was a great at-bat. One of the better ones of the season, it turned out."
Referring to the tensions -- and fighting -- created by the remarks and actions of Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, the down-home Rasmus said, "There was a lot of riff-raff going on. It might have woke a sleeping giant."
Indeed, the Cardinals showed as much emotion and intensity as they had for any series this season. They have scored at least four runs in each of their last 10 games. "When we've got everything working, we're a good club," La Russa said.
But La Russa said the sweep started with pitching, and on Wednesday, right-hander Wainwright was as good as he's been all year. He was on his way to his second straight two-hit shutout and his third of that variety this year when he had to leave after a 46-minute rain delay.
As it is, Wainwright is tied for the major league lead in wins at 17 and has 21 consecutive scoreless innings to lower his ERA to 1.99. He didn't walk anybody for the third time in his last five starts. Wainwright had a 26-inning scoreless streak earlier in the season.
"He had that eye-of-the-tiger look," La Russa said.
Wainwright suggested part of that might have come from Phillips' disrespectful comments prior to the series.
"That added fuel to our fire when you hear guys opening their mouths and saying stupid stuff," Wainwright said.
The Cardinals, said Wainwright, decided to answer with performance.
"It's very unprofessional to fire back," he said. "Just win the game on the field and not off the field."
CARDINALS 6, REDS 1: RHP
Adam Wainwright, often a strikeout/flyball pitcher, recorded 13 groundball outs
of the 21 he notched as he kept the ball out of the air in homer-friendly
The Cardinals' series sweep capped a 4-1 trip, their best of the season, and it was their first winning trip since the initial trip of the season.
NOTES AND QUOTES
RHP Adam Wainwright said he was ready to go out for the eighth inning and what might have been his second straight shutout. But a 46-minute rain delay Wednesday caused pitching coach Dave Duncan to scrub that idea, and Wainwright said, "I had a cramping issue in the sixth inning, and I wasn't exactly arguing with him."
RHP Jeff Suppan, who first injured his groin a couple of days ago while stretching to come back after a rain delay in Florida and then aggravated it by running in Cincinnati the next day, was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 1.
C Steven Hill was
summoned from Class AA Springfield, where he had 25 home runs and 86 RBI,
because C Jason LaRue had bruised ribs, lacerations on his face and a mild
concussion after being kicked in the chest and back by Cincinnati RHP Johnny Cueto during an on-field scrum Tuesday. There was no time to bring up a catcher
from Class AAA Memphis, which was playing at
RHP Kyle Lohse, who didn't want to make another rehabilitation start as he recovered from surgery on his forearm, made sure he won't have to make a fifth one by pitching three-hit ball and fanning nine in seven innings for Class AAA Memphis on Tuesday. Lohse was tabbed to start Sunday against the Cubs.
Manager La Russa said he expected Reds RHP Johnny Cueto would be disciplined by the commissioner's office for kicking RHP Chris Carpenter and C Jason LaRue during a first-inning brawl that delayed Tuesday's game for seven minutes. "I've got to believe it's going to be something significant. I've got no idea what it's going to turn out to be," La Russa said. LaRue, on a pregame show on Fox Sports Midwest, said, in part that Cueto's actions suggested "he hasn't got a brain."
Rookie OF Jon Jay had his seventh multi-hit game since July 24. "I'm not sure what much more Jon can do," manager Tony La Russa said.
1B Albert Pujols' 10-game hitting streak ended Wednesday. He was 20-for- 43 (.465) during that span.
By the Numbers:
1.22 - RHP Adam Wainwright's earned run average at home in 12 starts. This leads the National League.
Quote to Note:
"There's no whining in baseball."
- GM John Mozeliak, after losing 3B David Freese for the rest of the season with a severe ankle injury that required surgery.
C Jason LaRue (mild concussion, bruised ribs) was hurt during a skirmish in the Aug. 10 game. He is expected to miss a handful of games.
RHP Jeff Suppan (sore right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 1.
RHP Kyle Lohse (right forearm strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 23, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 5. He had surgery May 28 to alleviate muscle discomfort. Lohse began a minor league rehab assignment July 26, and he made what was likely his final rehab start Aug. 10 for Class AAA Memphis. He's expected to start for the Cardinals on Aug. 15.
RHP Jason Motte (AC sprain in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 3. He hopes to return as soon as he's eligible.
SS Tyler Greene (bruised right hand) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 1. Greene was struck by a pitch July 17, and the injury was still bothering him.
RHP Adam Ottavino (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4. He won't need surgery, but he is probably out for the year.
3B David Freese (bone bruise on right ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28. He also broke his left big toe in mid-July. He tore a right ankle tendon Aug. 2 in his first rehab game with Class AA Springfield, and he had season-ending surgery Aug. 6.
RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22. He threw bullpen sessions June 28 and July 1 but had to cut short a bullpen session July 6 because of tightness in his triceps area. He underwent an MRI on July 7, which found nothing that hadn't been diagnosed before. As of Aug. 5, he was playing catch but not throwing off a mound. Penny is out indefinitely.