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Reds hand Cards third straight loss, tie for Central lead

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Cincinnati Reds kicked the St. Louis
Cardinals when they were down, sweeping a team missing Albert
Pujols.

Rich Aurilia matched career highs with four hits and five RBI
Wednesday night, leading the Reds to a 7-4 victory that pulled them
into a tie for first place with the Cardinals in the NL Central.

"Honestly, we need to pounce on them no matter who they've got
out there, whether they had him or brought Musial back or
whoever," said Aurilia, whose three-run homer off Tyler Johnson in
the sixth made it 7-0. "Does it hurt their team having him out? Of
course it does, but we played well and we beat some pretty good
pitching."

Scott Hatteberg had two hits, two walks and two RBI to help the
Reds stretch their winning streak to a season-best seven games.
They completed a three-game sweep with Ken Griffey Jr. (left quad)
and Edwin Encarnacion (left ankle) out with minor injuries. They
also swept a three-game series in Houston during a 7-2 trip.

"I think a lot of people will probably pick up the paper
tomorrow and read it and go 'Who the hell is that? What's going
on?" Aurilia said. "We've played really well the last week."

The Cardinals were impressed.

"They've always had hitters, all they needed is pitching," St.
Louis' John Rodriguez said. "And now they've got it."

Pujols was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with a
strained muscle on his right side. There is still definite return
date for last year's NL MVP who was leading the major leagues in
home runs (25) and RBI (65) this season.

Aaron Harang (7-4) became the first visiting pitcher to win
twice at new Busch Stadium, dominating for five innings before
tiring. Harang threw seven shutout innings in a 1-0 victory on
April 14, and he had thrown 12 consecutive scoreless innings in St.
Louis before giving up three runs in his final inning.

In 5 2-3 innings, Harang allowed eight hits with three
strikeouts and a walk to win his second straight start.

"It still looked like he made some good pitches, but they were
on him a little bit," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "I just
wanted to go with a fresh arm."

The Cardinals wrapped up a 3-6 homestand and are 1-3 since
Pujols went on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday with a strained
right side muscle. They snapped a 15-inning scoreless slump, their
longest since June 2004, in the sixth on Scott Rolen's two-run
double and Jim Edmonds' RBI single.

"We didn't play very well, and we ran into a hot team,"
Edmonds said. "Everything they hit was hard. They could do no
wrong."

Edmonds added his sixth homer, and first since May 12, in the
eighth off David Weathers.

Singles by David Eckstein and Rolen in the first gave the
Cardinals, who were alone in first place for 23 games, their first
multihit inning in 23 innings.

Sidney Ponson (4-1) lost for the first time in nine starts with
the Cardinals, who signed him as a free agent in the offseason. In
5 1-3 innings he gave up five runs and eight hits.

Consecutive RBI singles by Hatteberg and Aurilia gave the Reds a
2-0 lead in the third, and RBI doubles by the same duo made it 4-0
in the fifth. Aurilia hit his seventh homer in the sixth.

Todd Coffey got the last three outs for his fourth save in five
chances. He has retired all six hitters his last two outings after
his blown save on Sunday.

Game notes
Rolen is 20-for-48 (.417) during a 12-game hitting streak,
the longest for the Cardinals this season. ... Reds C Jason LaRue
snapped an 0-for-29 slump with a bloop single in the seventh. ...
Cardinals 2B Aaron Miles made the defensive play of the game with a
running catch in shallow center of LaRue's pop fly in the fourth.
... The Reds' winning streak is one game better than a six-game run
from April 23-29. ... Before the game, the Reds clinched their
first series win in St. Louis since May 2003. The sweep was their
first of more than two games in St. Louis since July 13-15, 1998.
They are 7-2 against the Cardinals after going 5-11 last year. ...
Narron believes Griffey will be back in the lineup on Friday
against the Cubs, but thinks Encarnacion might be out a few more
games.