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St. Louis at Cincinnati

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St. Louis (21-17)000010100270
Cincinnati (21-16) «20203000x7130

Reds take over first in NL Central after trumping Cardinals

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CINCINNATI -- Moments after Jay Bruce caught a routine fly for the final out, the public address announcer called everyone's attention to the standings board behind the right-field seats, the one that was about to reflect a seismic shift in the NL Central.

Finally, the Cardinals had been knocked off their perch.

Cincinnati Reds

Cincinnati Reds

Scott Miller
Look who is in first in the NL Central. The Reds are surprising everyone. Just ask division rivals, Weekend Buzz

Scott Rolen homered and drove in three runs, and Bronson Arroyo pitched a complete game and drove in two more Sunday, leading the surging Cincinnati Reds to a 7-2 victory that ended St. Louis' long run as the division's top team.

The Cardinals had been in first place since July 31. The defending champions opened a five-game lead before going into a pronounced downturn, losing nine of their last 12.

Now, for the first time since the middle of last season, they're looking up.

"If it had been the last game of the season and we fell out of first place, it would be a big deal," said NL MVP Albert Pujols, who was 0 for 3. "We're in second place. It's better than being in last place. If we were in last place, we'd be concerned."

In Cincinnati, they're a little giddy.

Alerted by an announcer, the 26,712 rain-soaked fans pointed at the NL Central standings board and cheered when it reflected the change at the top after the final out. The Reds moved into a half-game lead by winning seven of eight.

Cincinnati hasn't been in first place this deep into a season since June 8, 2006.

"The Cards have been in the playoffs," Arroyo said. "They're not panicking. It's not a big deal for them. It's a bigger deal for us."

Rolen hit a two-run homer and a run-scoring single off Brad Penny (3-4), who had never lost at Great American Ball Park. Arroyo (3-2) pitched out of a bases-loaded, none-out threat in the fifth by giving up only a run. Jason LaRue later hit a solo homer, one of seven hits off Arroyo.

The right-hander pitched his first complete game of the season -- 10th of his career -- and added a bases-loaded single.

Cincinnati took two of three during baseball's Civil Rights weekend series, playing like contenders in front of bigger-than-usual crowds that finally had something to cheer.

"You've got to enjoy the moment -- enjoy May 16th," manager Dusty Baker said. "My dad always said, 'Enjoy today because tomorrow isn't promised to anybody."'

The move into first place was a long-awaited moment for the Reds, who are trying to break a nine-year losing streak. They improved to a season-high five games over .500 at 21-16 by beating the Cardinals at their own game: solid pitching, impeccable defense and balanced offense.

"Their hitters were on, their pitcher was on," manager Tony La Russa said. "They just beat us."

During the eight-game surge, Cincinnati's staff has a 1.88 earned run average. The Reds haven't committed an error in their last 11 games, their best such streak since 1997. And they've been squeezing the most out of their hits, leading the majors in getting runners from first to third with a single.

The breakthrough win came against a pitcher who had always been at his best in Great American, one of the majors' most homer-friendly ballparks. Penny was 5-0 in six career starts, allowing only eight earned runs in all. He gave up nearly that many -- seven -- in only five innings on Sunday. Cincinnati's 13 hits were one shy of Penny's career high for a game.

"Everything fell for them today," Penny said.

Rolen hit an opposite-field homer to right, his seventh, for a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Reds opened the third with three consecutive singles, including Rolen's off-the-handle hit to right for a 3-0 lead. Jonny Gomes added a sacrifice fly. Arroyo, a .063 hitter, broke it open with a bases-loaded single in the fifth.

Notes

  • Rain fell off and on starting in the fifth inning.
  • St. Louis returns home for a seven-game stand against Washington, Florida and the Angels.
  • The Reds complete their homestand with two games against Milwaukee.
  • The Reds went 13 games without an error in 1997. Cincinnati leads the NL in fielding percentage.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Scott Rolen hits a home run and drives in three for the first-place Reds.  (Getty Images)
Scott Rolen hits a home run and drives in three for the first-place Reds. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Cincinnati

S. Rolen
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 3
Cincinnati

B. Arroyo
IP 9.0
H 7
ER 2
BB 3
K 4
 
St. Louis Cardinals
Colby Rasmus, CF4000002 .270
Jon Jay, RF4010012 .304
Albert Pujols, 1B3000100 .310
Matt Holliday, LF4010001 .299
David Freese, 3B4000011 .306
Skip Schumaker, 2B3110100 .232
Jason LaRue, C3121100 .188
Brad Penny, P2010001 .118
    Dennys Reyes, P0000000 .000
   a- Ryan Ludwick, PH1000010 .296
    Mitchell Boggs, P0000000 .000
   b- Nick Stavinoha, PH1000000 .355
Tyler Greene, SS3011010 .231
Totals3227234  
a-struck out for Reyes in the 7th
b-flied out for Boggs in the 9th
Batting
2B - Jon Jay (2, Arroyo), Matt Holliday (10, Arroyo)
HR - Jason LaRue (1, Arroyo)
RBI - Jason LaRue (3), Tyler Greene (3)
Team LOB - 6
St. Louis Cardinals
Brad Penny (L,3-4) 51377171 2.73
Dennys Reyes 1000000 0.79
Mitchell Boggs 2000140 3.52
IBB - Hanigan by Brad Penny
Pitches-Strikes - Brad Penny 109-74, Dennys Reyes 9-6, Mitchell Boggs 34-22
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brad Penny 4-4, Dennys Reyes 1-2, Mitchell Boggs 1-1
Batters Faced - Brad Penny 29, Dennys Reyes 3, Mitchell Boggs 7
Cincinnati Reds
Orlando Cabrera, SS5121020 .270
Brandon Phillips, 2B4120103 .264
Joey Votto, 1B5110023 .289
Scott Rolen, 3B4123010 .271
Jay Bruce, RF4120012 .270
Jonny Gomes, LF3121000 .294
Drew Stubbs, CF4010034 .202
Ryan Hanigan, C3100102 .368
Bronson Arroyo, P4012020 .100
Totals367137211  
Batting
2B - Orlando Cabrera (5, Penny), Brandon Phillips (12, Penny), Jonny Gomes (6, Penny), Drew Stubbs (4, Penny)
HR - Scott Rolen (7, Penny)
SF - Jonny Gomes (4)
RBI - Orlando Cabrera (18), Scott Rolen 3 (18), Jonny Gomes (21), Bronson Arroyo 2 (3)
2-OUT RBI - Orlando Cabrera (6), Scott Rolen 2 (8), Bronson Arroyo 2 (3)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Cabrera-B. Phillips-Votto, Votto-Cabrera-B. Phillips
Cincinnati Reds
Bronson Arroyo (W,3-2) 9722341 4.78
IBB - Pujols by Bronson Arroyo
Pitches-Strikes - Bronson Arroyo 104-72
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Bronson Arroyo 12-9
Batters Faced - Bronson Arroyo 35
Game Information
Attendance - 26712
Game Time - 2:41
Temperature - 67
Umpires - Home - Joe West, First Base - Angel Hernandez, Second Base - Paul Schrieber, Third Base - Rob Drake