Reds-Cardinals Preview

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,

however.

“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

times.

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

straight starts.

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.