The St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds admit to noticing
the increasing hostility between the clubs, but neither needs any
additional motivation heading into another showdown.
The Reds look to win their fourth straight over the Cardinals in
the opener of a three-game series at Busch Stadium on Monday.
St. Louis (45-40) is tied with Milwaukee atop the NL Central
with fourth-place Cincinnati (43-42) two games back.
The tight standings adds even more tension to a rivalry that has
grown in the last year. The Reds have won four of six meetings this
season, sweeping the Cardinals at home May 13-15. Albert Pujols was
hit on the wrist in the finale of that series, leading words to be
exchanged between the teams.
“The teams don’t like each other,” Lance Berkman said. “That’s
just part of the deal.”
Neither team wants to be distracted by the bad blood,
“We’re not going to play any different,” Cincinnati’s Francisco
Cordero, who hit Pujols in the last meeting, told the Reds’
official website Sunday. “There’s nothing different. We’re just
playing a game. There have been some issues, but that’s it.”
The Cardinals are looking to bounce back after dropping the
final two games of their series at Tampa Bay. They lost Sunday’s
finale 8-3 despite home runs by Berkman and Yadier Molina.
Berkman, who is 8 for 19 with three doubles and a home run
against the Reds this season, has four homers in the last four
games and one in each of the last two.
It may be hard to keep that going against red-hot Johnny Cueto
(5-2, 1.84 ERA), though.
Cueto was effective against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, allowing three
runs and four hits while striking out six over 7 2-3 innings, but
left without a decision in the Reds’ 4-3 loss.
The right-hander has turned in seven straight quality starts and
has nine in 10 outings this year.
Cueto has had trouble against the Cardinals, going 4-3 with a
5.47 ERA, but he limited them to three unearned runs in 7 2-3
innings of a 7-3 victory May 14.
The Reds are looking forward to resuming play against the NL
after going 6-12 in interleague play. They avoided a season series
sweep against Cleveland with a 7-5 win Sunday as Edgar Renteria and
Chris Heisey homered.
“I’m glad interleague is over because they roughed us up this
year. We’re not playing to our potential, but I think we’ll be all
right,” Brandon Phillips said.
The Reds have lost nine of 15, scoring three or fewer runs eight
Phillips is hitting .375 with two homers and three doubles
against the Cardinals this season. However, he is 7 for 40 (.175)
against Monday’s scheduled starter Chris Carpenter (3-7, 4.00).
Carpenter has won his last two starts after losing his five
previous decisions. He’s allowed two runs over 16 innings in his
past two outings, throwing a seven-hitter in a 5-1 victory at
Baltimore on Wednesday.
“That was classic there; he knew what he had to do,” manager
Tony La Russa said of Carpenter, who threw a season-high 132
pitches. “Carp was the best guy we had. He has no fear, has a lot
of talent. Pitching like he was tonight is what you hope for.”
The veteran right-hander has made at least 124 pitches in three
Carpenter is 0-1 with a 6.57 ERA in two starts versus Cincinnati
this year after giving up eight runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-7 loss
May 15. He entered this season having won 10 consecutive starts
against the Reds.