Reds fall to Cards despite Larkin's grand slam

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Scott Rolen just wanted to get on the plane,
close his eyes and forget all about that wacky game full of
worrisome moments.

It wasn't so easy for the team that stayed back in Cincinnati.

Rolen hit two of the Cardinals' four homers, repeatedly blunting
Cincinnati's comebacks and sending the Reds to their eighth
straight loss, 11-10 on Wednesday night.

The longest nine-inning game of the season for either team -- 3
hours, 53 minutes -- featured 19 walks, a pinch grand slam, great
catches, three errors and more drama than anyone could handle in
the stands or on the benches.

"This game was no fun," said Rolen, who also doubled twice in
a 4-for-6 showing. "There was too much going on. I'm going to
forget about it when I fall asleep on that plane."

At least the Cardinals could smile before they snoozed.

Jim Edmonds homered in all three games of the series sweep,
which put the Cardinals 11 games up in the NL Central. St. Louis
has gone 42-14 since May 27, digging out of a fifth-place hole.

The Cardinals have had two constants during the spurt: They can
beat anyone on the road, and they can beat the Reds anywhere.

St. Louis is 34-16 on the road, also best in the majors, and
hasn't had a losing trip all season.

The Cardinals have been even more efficient against the Reds,
winning 11 of 13. They've played 10 times in July and won nine,
including three-game sweeps at Busch Stadium and Great American
Ball Park.

The head-to-head dominance knocked the Reds out of contention
and sent them into their deepest slump in a year. The Reds also
lost eight straight last July, prompting them to fire the general
manager and manager and go on a money-saving trade spree.

There won't be another payroll purge this time. Even if they're
inclined, there's not much to trade.

That became evident again on Wednesday, when the best the Reds
could do was be pesky, keep it close and lose again.

"We'll take wild, as long as we win," Reds captain Barry Larkin said. "It's very frustrating. We showed tonight that we'll
continue to fight."

Right-hander Jeff Suppan, who hasn't lost on the road this
season, walked a career-high 10 in 4 2-3 innings, helping the Reds
rally from an 8-1 deficit in the fifth.

"I was trying to do everything except focus on what I needed to
do," Suppan said.

Adam Dunn led off the fifth with his 28th homer, and Larkin had
a pinch-hit grand slam off Steve Kline that cut it to 8-7 later in
the inning. It was Larkin's second career slam.

Just like that, the Cardinals pulled away again. Rolen led off
the sixth with his 22nd homer, and Reggie Sanders doubled home
another run. Rolen hit another solo homer in the seventh, his
fourth multihomer game of the season.

St. Louis matched its season high with 19 hits.

Cal Eldred (2-0) was awarded the victory for his two perfect
innings. Jason Isringhausen gave up an RBI single by Jason LaRue
that cut it to 11-10 in the eighth, but got five outs for his 26th
save in 30 chances.

Cardinals pitchers walked 13 batters, and five scored.

"Oh, what a game," manager Tony La Russa said in a raspy
voice, his whirling head propped in his hand. "It was just a real
tough pitching day."

St. Louis piled up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings against Jose Acevedo (4-10), who cut his dyed-blond hair for the game but
remained winless in six starts -- two no-decisions -- in July.

Wily Mo Pena stretched over the 8-foot wall in center to steal a
three-run homer from Albert Pujols in the fourth.

First baseman Sean Casey threw away Suppan's squeeze bunt with
the bases loaded in the fifth, sending home two runs, and Tony Womack hit a three-run homer off Todd Van Poppel for an 8-1 lead.

Acevedo has lost to the Cardinals three times this season. He's
0-6 career against St. Louis with a 9.85 ERA.

Edmonds led off the third with his 27th homer. Edmonds has 12
homers in July, the most in the majors. He left the game as a
precaution in the fifth when he felt tightness in his lower back.

Game notes
Edmonds is 11-for-17 in his career off Acevedo with three
homers. ... Edmonds' career high for homers in a month is 14 in
June 2003. ... The last Cardinals pitcher to walk 10 batters was
Steve Carlton, who walked 10 Giants in 5 2-3 innings on July 3,
1971. ... Each of Rolen's last 12 homers have come on the road. ...
Dunn's homer was the 100th of his career. He and Pujols are the
only active players under 25 with 100 homers. ... The Reds hadn't
gotten 13 walks in a nine-inning game since July 22, 1979, at
Wrigley Field.