Series: Game 1 of 4

St. Louis leads 1-0 (as of 7/15)

Game 1: Thursday, July 15
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Game 2: Friday, July 16
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Game 3: Saturday, July 17
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Game 4: Sunday, July 18
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Cardinals 7

(55-33, 27-15 away)

Reds 2

(47-42, 25-16 home)

    7:10 PM ET, July 15, 2004

    Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio 

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    STL 000401200 7 11 1
    CIN 100001000 2 11 0

    W: M. Morris (10-6)

    L: J. Sanchez (0-2)

    Pujols, Rolen pound on Reds

    CINCINNATI (AP) -- Matt Morris knew he had a chance, even after a rough first inning.

    Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen each hit two-run homers to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 7-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.

    Morris (10-6) settled down after giving up hits to the first two batters, and worked out of a jam in the sixth for his second consecutive win against Cincinnati. He was the winner in the middle game of a three-game sweep by the Cardinals last week in St. Louis.

    "It's a big tribute to the way the guys play behind me," Morris said. "They see me scuffling. They show me each time I'm out there that they're willing to do the little things necessary to win the ballgame.

    "You know they're going to score runs. It's just a question of the pitcher not getting frustrated."

    Frustration could have set in early, when Morris fielded a dribbler by Barry Larkin in the first inning and threw the ball into the stands behind first base, allowing Ryan Freel, who led off with a single, to score.

    "I thought I was going to be buried after the first," Morris said. "But I kept pitching the same way."

    A nifty play by second baseman Tony Womack saved a run in the third when D'Angelo Jimenez hit a grounder that glanced off first baseman Pujols' glove into short right field. Womack chased down the ball and threw out Jimenez, leaving a runner stranded.

    "I almost gave up on it," said Morris, who covered first. "It looked like the ball was going to squirt through. Then I saw Tony come up with it."

    That play ended the third inning, and the run production started when the Cardinals came to bat in the fourth.

    Until the fourth, Jesus Sanchez (0-2) allowed just two base runners, Edgar Renteria's single in the first inning and a walk to Reggie Sanders in the second. But Renteria led off the fourth with a single and Pujols followed with his 23rd homer, a line drive to left.

    One out later, Sanders walked again, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a perfectly placed bunt hit by So Taguchi down the third-base line.

    Taguchi then scored from first on Mike Matheny's double to the wall in right-center to make it 4-1.

    "Sanchez got into some problems in the fourth. He got behind some hitters and they made him pay for it," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "We had multiple opportunities, but we couldn't capitalize."

    The Reds were just 2-of-17 with runners in scoring position.

    "I threw pretty good for the first few innings, but in the fourth, I left a couple of pitches up and got behind in the count, and they got me," Sanchez said.

    "You can't make mistakes. You've got to keep the ball down. They hit the ball pretty good. That's why they're in first place."

    Sanchez gave up five hits and two walks and struck out two in four innings.

    "That game was misleading," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We ended up with a lot of clutch pitching and a lot of clutch hitting.

    "When you score a lot of runs, you've got to have a lot of guys contribute."

    Even Morris, who hadn't had a hit since April 21, singled in a run in the sixth to make it 5-1, and Rolen homered off John Riedling in the seventh, his 19th of the year.

    The Reds loaded the bases with three consecutive singles to start the sixth but could push across just one run on a groundout.

    Morris allowed eight hits, one walk and struck out four in six innings.

    Game notes

    Renteria was 4-for-5, all singles. ... The game was the first of six on the road for the Cardinals against their closest challengers in the NL Central, including four in Cincinnati and two in Chicago. ... Reds 1B Sean Casey was reactivated from the 15-day DL and went 0-for-5. ... CF Freel singled in his first at-bat, extending his career-high streak to 10 games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press