Rich Aurilia matched career highs with four hits and five RBI Wednesday night, leading the Reds to a 7-4 victory that pulled them into a tie for first place with the Cardinals in the NL Central.
"Honestly, we need to pounce on them no matter who they've got out there, whether they had him or brought Musial back or whoever," said Aurilia, whose three-run homer off Tyler Johnson in the sixth made it 7-0. "Does it hurt their team having him out? Of course it does, but we played well and we beat some pretty good pitching."
Scott Hatteberg had two hits, two walks and two RBI to help the Reds stretch their winning streak to a season-best seven games. They completed a three-game sweep with Ken Griffey Jr. (left quad) and Edwin Encarnacion (left ankle) out with minor injuries. They also swept a three-game series in Houston during a 7-2 trip.
"I think a lot of people will probably pick up the paper tomorrow and read it and go 'Who the hell is that? What's going on?'" Aurilia said. "We've played really well the last week."
The Cardinals were impressed.
"They've always had hitters, all they needed is pitching," St. Louis' John Rodriguez said. "And now they've got it."
Pujols was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with a strained muscle on his right side. There is still definite return date for last year's NL MVP who was leading the major leagues in home runs (25) and RBI (65) this season.
Aaron Harang (7-4) became the first visiting pitcher to win twice at new Busch Stadium, dominating for five innings before tiring. Harang threw seven shutout innings in a 1-0 victory on April 14, and he had thrown 12 consecutive scoreless innings in St. Louis before giving up three runs in his final inning.
In 5 2/3 innings, Harang allowed eight hits with three strikeouts and a walk to win his second consecutive start.
"It still looked like he made some good pitches, but they were on him a little bit," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "I just wanted to go with a fresh arm."
The Cardinals wrapped up a 3-6 homestand and are 1-3 since Pujols went on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday with a strained right side muscle. They snapped a 15-inning scoreless slump, their longest since June 2004, in the sixth on Scott Rolen's two-run double and Jim Edmonds' RBI single.
"We didn't play very well, and we ran into a hot team," Edmonds said. "Everything they hit was hard. They could do no wrong."
Edmonds added his sixth homer, and first since May 12, in the eighth off David Weathers.
Singles by David Eckstein and Rolen in the first gave the Cardinals, who were alone in first place for 23 games, their first multihit inning in 23 innings.
Sidney Ponson (4-1) lost for the first time in nine starts with the Cardinals, who signed him as a free agent in the offseason. In 5 1/3 innings he gave up five runs and eight hits.
Consecutive RBI singles by Hatteberg and Aurilia gave the Reds a 2-0 lead in the third, and RBI doubles by the same duo made it 4-0 in the fifth. Aurilia hit his seventh homer in the sixth.
Todd Coffey retired the last three outs for his fourth save in five chances. He has retired all six hitters his last two outings after his blown save on Sunday.
- Rolen is 20-for-48 (.417) during a 12-game hitting streak, the longest for the Cardinals this season.
- Reds C Jason LaRue snapped an 0-for-29 slump with a bloop single in the seventh.
- Cardinals 2B Aaron Miles made the defensive play of the game with a running catch in shallow center of LaRue's pop fly in the fourth.
- The Reds' winning streak is one game better than a six-game run from April 23-29.
- Before the game, the Reds clinched their first series win in St. Louis since May 2003. The sweep was their first of more than two games in St. Louis since July 13-15, 1998. They are 7-2 against the Cardinals after going 5-11 last year.
- Narron believes Griffey will be back in the lineup on Friday against the Cubs, but thinks Encarnacion might be out a few more games.