Pujols, Sanders hit two-run homers

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Even after pitching another gem, Chris Carpenter was frustrated. The way he's throwing the ball, he figures he should be able to go all the way every time out.

Carpenter took a shutout into the ninth inning and the St. Louis Cardinals got two-run homers from Albert Pujols and Reggie Sanders in a 6-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.

"I wanted to finish the game, but I just couldn't do it," Carpenter said. "I couldn't get the leadoff guy in the ninth, and they weren't going to leave me out there with 120 pitches to go through the middle of their lineup."

Carpenter (10-4) allowed three hits through eight innings before Felipe Lopez led off the ninth with his 12th homer, ending the right-hander's career-best scoreless streak at 17 innings. Carpenter threw a one-hitter to beat Toronto 7-0 last Tuesday.

He was lifted after walking Rich Aurilia, and Ray King got three outs to finish the four-hitter. Carpenter struck out eight and walked two. He has allowed just four runs over 31 innings in his past four starts.

"The game he pitched against Toronto, it was lights-out," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "He was just as good today.

"He's got so many weapons, and he competes so hard," he said.

In his last start in Cincinnati, Carpenter allowed five runs in seven innings but got a no-decision when the Cardinals rallied for the biggest ninth-inning comeback in team history, overcoming a six-run deficit for a 10-9 victory.

They didn't need that Monday.

Sanders hit an RBI double in the third and homered in the fifth, his 14th. Reds pitchers have allowed at least one home run in 57 of 70 games for a total of 106 homers -- most in the majors.

Abraham Nunez added an RBI single in the seventh. Ryan Wagner
then came on in relief for Cincinnati, and Pujols hit his second pitch into the right field seats for his 18th homer, making it 6-0.

Cincinnati fell a season-high 18½ games behind St. Louis in the NL Central.

St. Louis' first five runs were charged to Aaron Harang (4-6), who has lost all four starts in June. He gave up five runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings.

It took Harang 24 pitches to get his first out. After loading the bases with two singles and a walk, he got Sanders to fly out to right and then retired the next two batters on a strikeout and a grounder.

"Bases loaded, nobody out, he did a whale of a job getting out of it, but without question, it taxes you a little bit," Reds manager Dave Miley said.

So Taguchi, starting in center field because of Jim Edmonds' rib injury, made an Edmonds-like catch in the sixth, reaching above the wall to rob Aurilia of a home run.

"I made a couple mistakes and got a couple of great defensive plays," Carpenter said.

He only needed a couple, baffling Reds batters and not allowing a runner to reach second base before Lopez's homer.

"He was tough," Miley said. "Every hitter came back in talking about his movement."

Game notes
Pujols has nine homers at Great American Ball Park, and Sanders has seven. ... Outfielder Larry Walker was scratched from the Cardinals' lineup just before gametime with a stiff neck. ... The
Cardinals were ready to send Edmonds home for treatment of a hairline fracture of his left middle rib, but he said he was feeling better. La Russa said Edmonds would take batting practice and be available to pinch-hit after missing the first six games of the Cardinals' road trip. ... The Reds put infielder Luis Lopez on the disabled list with a torn hamstring and recalled infielder William Bergolla from Triple-A Louisville. Lopez will have surgery and is expected to miss the rest of the season. ... Reds leadoff batter Ryan Freel, who has started at five positions this season, missed his second straight game with a sore toe.