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Cards rough up Arroyo, salvage series split vs. Reds

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Bronson Arroyo got braids in his hair, hoping
to end a long slump and a big series in style.

The new hairdo didn't do a thing.

Scott Spiezio hit the last of the Cardinals' three homers off
Arroyo on Thursday, and St. Louis gained a soothing series split
with a 6-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that left the NL
Central rivals right where they started.

The Cardinals held their ground while in town, leaving 3½ games
ahead of second-place Cincinnati.

"It's not the end of the world," Arroyo said.

Rather, it was a snapshot of how things have gone for two teams
that seem to be racing in reverse. Both have losing records over
the last two weeks, unable to take advantage of the other's
struggles.

After blowing a ninth-inning lead on Wednesday night, the
Cardinals were encouraged to leave with a four-game split.

"To come back after we got beat like that last night, that was
impressive," manager Tony La Russa said.

Jim Edmonds and Chris Duncan also homered off Arroyo (9-8), so
frustrated by a seven-week slump that he got his shoulder-length
hair braided into cornrows two days earlier to try to change his
luck.

Instead, the All-Star pitcher matched his career high for homers
allowed and remained winless since June 19. He's 0-5 in his last 10
starts with a 5.29 earned-run average, a stretch of futility that includes three
blown saves by his bullpen.

So, do the cornrows go?

"I think I'll keep them for a while," Arroyo said. "I'm about
at the end of my rope, superstition-wise. Maybe I'll have to bring
in a live chicken or something."

Duncan added another solo homer in the ninth off Rheal Cormier,
his first two-homer game of the season.

Rookie Anthony Reyes (4-5), who has helped the Cardinals'
rotation get through a series of injuries, struggled with his own
medical problem -- an upset stomach -- through five shutout innings.
He gave up a pair of hits, walked two and hit three batters.

Reyes has made 11 starts this season, filling in for injured
Chris Carpenter, Sidney Ponson and Mark Mulder at various times.
Most of his starts have been brief -- only three have lasted six
innings.

There was a reason for this one.

"The last couple of innings, I started getting nauseated,"
Reyes said.

A day after closer Jason Isringhausen gave up a game-ending,
two-run homer to David Ross in the Reds' 8-7 comeback win, the
bullpen held on. Adam Wainwright allowed Javier Valentin's
pinch-hit solo homer in the seventh, but that was it.

"They switched the momentum on us last night, but it's our job
to keep our composure and do what we're capable of doing," Spiezio
said.

The Reds did all they could to promote the mid-August showdown,
giving away Davey Concepcion bobbleheads for one game and offering
half-price tickets and $1 hot dogs for the other three. They sold
more than 130,000 hot dogs and packed their ballpark for the last
three games.

Neither team has won very often lately, keeping the NL Central
tight. The Cardinals have lost 10 of their last 14 games while
holding onto first place. The Reds have lost 8 of 12, but no ground
in the standings over that span.

The main difference is that the Reds have won their head-to-head
games, going 8-4 against the Cardinals overall to stay in the race.
They finish the series with three games next week in St. Louis.

"When you're playing the division leader, you'd love to have
gotten three out of four, but we'll take it and move on," manager
Jerry Narron said. "I think it will go down to the end of the
year, and it should."

Edmonds, Duncan and Spiezio played big roles in the series
split. Edmonds hit a grand slam in Wednesday night's loss, and had
a solo homer and an RBI single off Arroyo as part of a three-hit
day.

Duncan led off the fifth with a homer -- he was 7-for-14 with
three homers in the series. And Spiezio, filling in at third base
for the injured Scott Rolen, put the Cardinals up 5-0 with his
two-run shot later in the fifth. Spiezio has hit safely in his last
six games, going 7-for-18 with three homers.

Game notes
Edmonds' homer was his 228th in seven seasons with the
Cardinals, tying Ray Lankford for fourth on the club's list.
Edmonds hit 121 with the Angels. ... Rolen left Wednesday night's
game with back spasms. He's day-to-day. ... RF So Taguchi lost
track of the number of outs in the fourth inning, starting for the
dugout after catching Juan Castro's fly ball for only the second
out. ... The Reds optioned OF Chris Denorfia to Triple-A Louisville
to open a roster spot for OF Todd Hollandsworth, acquired from
Cleveland a day earlier. ... Valentin has three of the Reds' eight
pinch-hit homers.