ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Ken Griffey Jr. came up empty again in his bid
to hit his 500th homer. So did the Cincinnati Reds, who lost their
eighth straight on the road.
Albert Pujols homered off Mike Matthews to lead off the bottom
of the 10th inning to give the St. Louis Cardinals a 4-3 victory
over the Reds on Friday night, extending their winning streak to
The NL Central leaders have won 14 of 18 overall and have won
their last two games in their final at-bat after going 0-24 when
trailing after eight before that.
"I like the other kind (of wins), the no-brainers," manager
Tony La Russa said. "If we get so far ahead, I can't mess those
Reminiscent of Mark McGwire's 70-homer season in 1998,
flashbulbs popped throughout each of Griffey's at-bats. Otherwise,
the occasion was less than a big event in St. Louis, with Busch
Stadium about 10,000 seats shy of a sellout. There were more than
Griffey was 0-for-4, taking a called third strike in the second,
lining out to shortstop in the fourth, flying out to center in the
seventh and tapping out on a checked swing in the ninth. He's
3-for-17 with two RBI in four games since his last homer on Sunday
against the Indians and hasn't come close to the fences.
Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter didn't shy away from the
"I wasn't going to pitch around him," Carpenter said. "I said
this the other day: If he hits the homer, he hits the homer.
"I was going to challenge him and I was going to make pitches,
and I did."
Griffey had no comment after the game.
Griffey's best play of the night came in center field, where he
made a diving grab of Roger Cedeno's shallow fly for the first out
in the eighth. Reds trainer Mark Mann briefly ran out to attend to
Griffey, but he waved him off.
"He'll be fine," manager Dave Miley said. "I asked him in the
dugout afterwards and me and Mark got on him for making us run that
far out there."
The 34-year-old Griffey is trying to become the sixth player to
get to 500 before his 35th birthday. Sammy Sosa also was 34 when he
hit his 500th early last season at Cincinnati.
Griffey has only three homers at Busch Stadium, where he's a
career .220 hitter.
The Reds got key RBI from pinch-hitter Jacob Cruz and Barry
Larkin against a tiring Chris Carpenter in a two-run eighth to take
a 3-2 lead.
The Cardinals tied it with a two-out rally in the ninth off
closer Danny Graves, who has blown seven saves in 34 chances. The
rally featured hits by pinch-hitters Marlon Anderson and Ray
Lankford, and the tying run scored on Tony Womack's infield hit --
his third hit of the game.
Pujols, who entered the game in a 4-for-26 slump since returning
from a hamstring injury, was 2-for-4 and also had a sacrifice fly
in the sixth. He hit a 2-0 pitch from Matthews (1-1) over the
right-field wall for his 18th homer, and the third game-winning
homer of his career.
"I hit it real good," Pujols said. "I know the air was kind
of thick but I thought I had a pretty good chance because I know my
stadium pretty well."
Reds manager Dave Miley didn't second-guess his decision to use
a left-hander against Pujols.
"He was Option A all the way," Miley said. "If you look at
his numbers, he's had success against both lefties and righties.
"When he fell behind Pujols, obviously that gave him the upper
hand and he took advantage of it."
Julian Tavarez (1-0) struck out the side in the top of the 10th
for St. Louis.
Carpenter had a one-hitter after six innings and led 2-1 with a
three-hitter after Sean Casey's RBI double in the seventh.
The Reds began the eighth with three straight hits, a single by
Javier Valentin, a run-scoring double by Cruz for his fifth pinch
RBI and a bunt single by Ryan Freel -- helped by Carpenter, who
Pinch-runner Felipe Lopez scored the go-ahead run from third on
Reds starter Cory Lidle allowed two runs on six hits in seven
innings with seven strikeouts and two walks.
The Cardinals' first two runs came on sacrifice flies, hiking
their major league-leading total to 32.
After the game, the Reds acquired LHP Gabe White from the
New York Yankees in exchange for LHP Charlie Manning. White will
begin his third stint with the Reds. ... The Reds' road losing
streak is their longest skid since they lost 10 in a row from June
1-24, 1998. ... The Cardinals had 11 hits, their fifth straight
game of 10 or more.