Series: Game 2 of 3

St. Louis leads 2-0 (as of 8/17)

Game 1: Monday, August 16
St. Louis10
Game 2: Tuesday, August 17
St. Louis7
Game 3: Wednesday, August 18
St. Louis4

Reds 2

(56-63, 25-36 away)

Cardinals 7

(78-40, 38-21 home)

    8:10 PM ET, August 17, 2004

    Busch Stadium I, St. Louis, Missouri 

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    CIN 001100000 2 8 0
    STL 10000006 - 7 10 1

    W: C. Eldred (3-0)

    L: D. Graves (1-5)

    Cardinals extend NL Central lead to 15 games

    ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Larry Walker keeps helping the St. Louis Cardinals win.

    Tony Womack scored the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk from Danny Graves in the eighth inning and Walker hit the next pitch for a grand slam in a 7-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

    Walker earned his first curtain call with the Cardinals after his ninth homer of the season. He has three homers with St. Louis and is batting .370 in nine games.

    "I was pushed out of the dugout to get out there, not sure knowing what to do," Walker said. "It was fun to go out there, it was fun to win, it was fun to hear the crowd get as loud as they were."

    The NL Central leaders are 13-2 against the Reds this season and will try to complete a three-game sweep Wednesday. St. Louis has won 11 of 13 overall and opened a 15-game lead over second-place Chicago -- the Cardinals' largest advantage since Aug. 10, 1968, a year they won the NL pennant.

    "It's only a matter of time for this ballclub to pull through, and tonight we pulled through again," starter Matt Morris said. "Eventually, we're going to do it."

    The Walker trade, which sent three minor leaguers to the Rockies, has further energized a team that already was on a roll. He's been batting second, an indication of the strength of the lineup.

    "Hitting in the two hole, grand slams and home runs aren't really what I'm trying to accomplish," Walker said. "I'm just trying to stick with my George Brett theory of hitting the ball hard and if it goes far, great."

    Cincinnati led 2-1 in the eighth when Joe Valentine hit Scott Rolen with a pitch leading off, Edgar Renteria grounded out and Jim Edmonds greeted Graves (1-5) with an RBI single.

    Edmonds took second on the throw home, Reggie Sanders was walked intentionally and pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson loaded the bases with a single.

    After pinch-hitter John Mabry flied out, Womack walked on five pitches and Walker followed with his sixth career slam to cap a six-inning -- it matched the team's high this year.

    "I just wanted to throw a strike," Graves said. "You've got to give yourself a chance, you've got to throw strikes, and you throw one right down the middle to Larry Walker, he's going to do that every time."

    The Cardinals, who have 37 come-from-behind victories, had been 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position before Edmonds' hit. Reds rookie Brandon Claussen limited them to one run and five hits in six innings.

    "I was very impressed against a club like that," Reds manager Dave Miley said.

    Cal Eldred (3-0) gave up one hit and struck out two in a scoreless eighth.

    Albert Pujols, who had homered in each of his previous four games, had a sacrifice fly in the first. He was 1-for-4 and is 10-for-22 with five homers and 12 RBI in his last five games.

    Morris allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. Morris stranded the bases loaded in his final inning, and the Reds left eight on overall during his stint.

    "When you get to the seventh, that was his inning," manager Tony La Russa said. "The way he rose to the occasion, and our fans need to pay attention to stuff like that, that's what he's capable of doing."

    Jason LaRue singled, doubled and tripled in four at-bats for the Reds. He had entered the game in a 3-for-15 slump.

    Sean Casey had a run-scoring infield hit in the third, and Felipe Lopez' fourth-inning RBI single gave the Reds a 2-1 lead. Then the Cardinals buried them -- again -- in the eighth.

    "We're not the only ones, they beat up on everybody," Graves said. "They've got the best team in baseball in my eyes. That lineup never ends."

    Game notes

    Morris threw 127 pitches, most on the staff this season, 78 for strikes. Woody Williams had the previous high with 125 pitches on June 26 against the Royals. ... Walker was 3-for-4 and is 10-for-27 (.370) with 11 RBI with the Cardinals. ... The Reds have blown 13 of their last 23 save opportunities. ... The Cardinals have a seven-game winning streak at home. ... Graves has blown nine saves in 45 chances. ... The Reds are 22-41 since June 6, when they led the Central by two games. They're also 9-24 in their last 33 road games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press