Cards suffer fist shutout at Busch

Saturday, April 15, 2006
Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds couldn't reach a fifth-inning bloop single by Reds pitcher Aaron Harang that scored the game's only run Friday night at Busch Stadium. (Associated Press)

Reds starting pitcher Aaron Harang drove in the game's only run in a 1-0 victory.

ST. LOUIS -- Aaron Harang was close to perfect on the mound, and just good enough at the plate.

Harang stymied the St. Louis Cardinals for seven innings and was an unlikely source for the game's lone RBI in the Cincinnati Reds' 1-0 victory on Friday night. His bloop single in the fifth that fell just in front of Jim Edmonds, only the fourth RBI of his career, was the difference.

Last year, Harang was 2-for-74 (.027) with three RBIs. This season he's 1-for-7.

"I said on the bench, 'If you're going to get your one hit, get it right now,' and he did," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "He just flipped it out there."

Harang (2-1) allowed four hits with four strikeouts and one walk to the only batter he faced in the eighth to outduel Chris Carpenter. Harang also was on the mound for the Reds' last 1-0 victory, a three-hit shutout over the Cardinals and Carpenter on Aug. 26, 2004, in Cincinnati.

"Both offenses got shut down," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "The winning hit's a blooper. I would have taken a blooper or two."

Harang was batting .044 for his career with three RBIs in 157 at-bats before his two-out blooper off Carpenter and .050 afterward.

"I hit it off the end of the bat," Harang said. "I hurt my hands."

On Friday, the heart of the Cardinals' order -- Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen -- was 0-for-9 and got one ball out of the infield.

"You can never tell if you're going to have a good game like this," Harang said. "I felt like I was able to execute my pitches."

Edmonds committed his third error in two games earlier in the fifth when he had trouble with Austin Kearns' single, allowing him to take the extra base. He also struck out against Todd Coffey with the bases loaded for the last out in the eighth, dropping his average to .158.

Carpenter (1-1) was almost as stingy, allowing one run on four hits in eight innings. He struck out six, getting Adam Dunn three times, and walked three, while holding the Reds to one hit in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Carpenter is 0-1 in his last two starts despite allowing one run in 14 innings.

"That's how it works sometimes," Carpenter said. "You just try to go out and do the best you can and hope it's enough to win.

"Hopefully, we'll win tomorrow."

The Reds, who won the first of 15 meetings between the teams this year, were 10-25 against the Cardinals the previous two seasons. They had dropped 13 of the last 16 in St. Louis but this time quieted a sellout crowd of 40,901, the Cardinals' fourth straight full house in four games at new Busch Stadium.

Harang issued his only walk to Aaron Miles leading off the eighth, then exited after 112 pitches. The Cardinals loaded the bases on David Eckstein's walk off Kent Mercker and Albert Pujols' infield hit off Coffey before Edmonds struck out on a full count.

David Weathers pitched the ninth for his third save in three chances.

Edmonds, an eight-time Gold Glove winner, had only two errors all last season. He came up short on Kearns' one-out single in the fifth and the ball deflected several feet off his glove. Kearns went to third on Javier Valentin's tapper in front of the plate and scored on Harang's soft fly to center that Edmonds fielded on a short hop.

Harang induced 13 groundouts and limited the Cardinals to three hits. It was a major improvement over his last start, when he allowed five runs in 6 2-3 innings and got the decision in an 11-9 victory over the Pirates.

Last year, he was 0-3 with a 5.59 ERA in three starts against St. Louis and he's 2-5 for his career.

Notes: Pujols made a nice stop at 1B on Scott Hatteberg's smash in the sixth, lunging to his left and then throwing to second from his knees for a forceout. ... Aaron Miles snapped an 0-for-13 slump with a single in the second. ... Rolen is 1-for-18 against Harang. ... Ken Griffey Jr. missed his second straight start with stiffness in his right knee. ... RF Juan Encarnacion robbed pinch hitter Rich Aurilia with a diving catch for the last out of the ninth.

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