Albert Pujols stayed on the bench in his first game off the disabled list. The St. Louis Cardinals had plenty without the three-time NL MVP.
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Matt Holliday homered twice hours after being picked to represent the National League in the Home Run Derby and Jaime Garcia had another stingy home outing in an 8-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
Holliday said he knew about the home run derby honor a few days ago.
”No correlation, I wouldn’t think,” Holliday said. ”I’m just trying to hit the ball hard.”
Holliday is not a prototypical home run hitter, totaling 77 the last three seasons and entering the game with just 10 in 62 games. He powered up against Edinson Volquez (5-4) with a solo shot in the first and three-run homer in the fifth for his 16th career multi-homer game and first since July 7, 2010, at Colorado.
The Cardinals activated Pujols before the game but did not use him after putting him through an extensive pre-game workout. Pujols beat the estimated timetable for his return from a broken left wrist by a month, emerging on his first day of eligibility from the disabled list, and is expected to start Wednesday.
”If it was a game situation, he was ready,” Manager Tony La Russa said. ”But I didn’t see one. So he’ll go tomorrow.”
Holliday and Lance Berkman homered on consecutive at-bats in the first inning.
Berkman leads the league with 23 homers after a drive to right estimated at 452 feet, the longest at six-year-old Busch Stadium, and with 350 career homers he is tied for fourth with Chili Davis on the career switch-hitter list, trailing only Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray and Chipper Jones.
The Reds, defending champions in the NL Central, have lost four of five and fell a game below .500 for the first time since May 3. Manager Dusty Baker dipped below the break-even point, too, with a record of 286-287 in his fifth season with Cincinnati.
”We’re a good team, but we’re just playing terrible ball,” second baseman Brandon Phillips said. ”Nice and simple, that’s it. That’s all that’s going on.”
Central-leading St. Louis is 12-0-1 in series at home against the Reds since 2006 and will go for a three-game sweep Wednesday night, with Jake Westbrook opposing Bronson Arroyo.
Garcia (8-3) allowed one run and two hits in six innings and is 5-1 with a major league-best 0.94 ERA at home. The left-hander didn’t allow a hit until Phillips doubled leading off the fourth, eventually scoring on two groundouts.
”It’s always good for the team, we’re doing great hitting,” Garcia said. ”But to be honest with you, I’m trying to do my best at not worrying about what’s going on offensively, or with the other pitcher.”
The Reds threatened again in the fifth, loading the bases on two walks and a single by Volquez before Phillips grounded into a forceout on a bang-bang play at second after shortstop Ryan Theriot fielded the ball in the hole.
Theriot added a two-run double off Sam LeCure in a three-run sixth that made it 8-1.
Volquez has allowed 22 runs in the first inning, permitting at least one run in half of his 16 starts. He had allowed a total of three homers his previous five starts before giving up three against St. Louis to match a season worst and gave up seven runs, six earned, in 5-1/3 innings.
”He wasn’t even that sharp,” Baker said. ”He just missed location, that’s kind of what was happening all night.”
NOTES: Fans booed Phillips in anticipation of his at-bat to start the eighth, then switched to cheers when they recognized former Cardinal Edgar Renteria was pinch-hitting. … Berkman’s homer topped Ryan Ludwick’s shot estimated at 450 feet on July 22, 2008. … Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter has made 53 starts the last two seasons, most in the majors, after missing most of 2007 and ’08 with injuries. … Arroyo is 2-5 with a 5.93 ERA at Busch Stadium heading into Wednesday’s start. … Drew Stubbs was back in the leadoff slot for the Reds after batting sixth, seventh or eighth in eight of the previous 10 games, but he struck out three times with a walk. Stubbs is in a 9-for-57 slump the last 16 games with 23 strikeouts, two extra-base hits and one RBI. … Five of Berkman’s last six hits have been homers. … St. Louis reliever Mitchell Boggs threw 12 straight balls with one out in the ninth, loading the bases, before striking out pinch-hitter Fred Lewis and Stubbs. ”It’s happened before and turned out way worse,” Boggs said. ”I’ll take the zero.” … Jon Jay has hit in all nine home games in his career against the Reds, going 11 for 27 (.407). … Paul Janish doubled in the seventh for his first extra-base hit since June 11, covering 14 games and 40 plate appearances.