Reds-Cardinals Preview

After a long weather-related delay, Kyle McClellan and the St.

Louis Cardinals eventually shut down the potent Cincinnati

Reds.

Chris Carpenter has become all too accustomed to doing the

same.

Looking to win an 11th consecutive start against the visiting

Reds, Carpenter takes the mound for the Cardinals seeking his first

victory of the season as the teams continue their three-game set

Saturday.

McClellan was to start Friday’s opener, but was replaced some 15

minutes before the opening pitch by Miguel Batista due to a threat

of rain. Batista lasted six pitches before a 2-hour, 10-minute

delay.

McClellan, who took the mound after the weather cleared, allowed

two runs and seven hits in six-plus innings, and three other

relievers combined to throw three scoreless frames in Friday’s 4-2

win.

The Reds (10-10) lead the majors with 109 runs and 105 RBIs and

rank first in the NL with 26 homers this season. However, they’ve

looked nothing like one of baseball’s best against Carpenter (0-2,

4.13 ERA), who has won 10 straight starts in the series while

posting a 1.37 ERA and allowing just 45 hits and eight walks in 72

1-3 innings.

The right-hander, who surrendered a season-worst eight runs in

four innings of a 13-8 loss at Arizona on April 12, bounced back

and gave up five hits over seven shutout innings of Sunday’s 2-1

loss to the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

“I commanded the ball well,” said Carpenter, who hasn’t lost to

Cincinnati since June 6, 2006. “My cutter was good and I had

command of my fastball on both sides of the plate and kept the ball

down.”

Since striking out 11 – his highest total since 2006 – in a 4-2

win over Cincinnati on Sept. 5, Carpenter has gone 1-6 with a 4.80

ERA in nine starts.

The Cardinals (11-9), who recorded a .216 average while going

2-6 to begin 2011, collected 12 hits Friday and are batting .345

while averaging 7.3 runs over a 9-3 stretch. St. Louis now sits

atop the NL Central and ranks second the majors with 108 runs.

Three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols has played a big role in the

Cardinals’ recent success. After going 1 for 3 with two RBIs in the

series opener, he’s scored 14 runs, hit five homers, and drove in

12 while batting .350 in the last 10 games.

Pujols is batting .356 with 43 home runs lifetime against

Cincinnati, which has lost seven of nine. Reds starters have

compiled a 7.49 ERA over the last eight games.

St. Louis is batting an MLB-best .296, and will next face Travis

Wood (1-2, 5.73), Saturday’s scheduled starter. He gave up six runs

and a season-high eight hits over a career-low 3 1-3 innings of a

9-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Monday.

“I felt fine. I was frustrated,” Wood said. “You never want to

throw (42) pitches in the first inning. It just wasn’t my

night.”

The left-hander has recorded a 7.80 ERA over his last three

outings after winning his season debut. He allowed one unearned run

and five hits over seven innings to get the victory in a 6-1 win

Sept. 4 at Busch Stadium – his only career start against the

Cardinals.

Brandon Phillips, batting .354, went 2 for 5 with a homer and

Jonny Gomes went 1 for 3 with his team-leading 15th RBI on

Friday

Phillips and Jay Bruce are a combined 9 for 51 (.176) lifetime

against Carpenter while Gomes is hitless in 10 at-bats with seven

strikeouts.