Cards knock off Reds

Thursday, April 8, 2010
Cardinals third baseman David Freese hits a run-scoring single during the seventh inning Wednesday in Cincinnati. Freese had two RBIs in the game. (AL BEHRMAN ~ Associated Press)

CINCINNATI -- Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday are in the middle of something really good.

Pujols singled home the tiebreaking run in the seventh inning and Holliday followed with a two-run double, sending the St. Louis Cardinals to a 6-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.

Adam Wainwright (1-0) gave up only three hits in seven innings, including Orlando Cabrera's two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth that tied it at 2-2. Then an offense that has been awfully impressive in two games took over this one.

"Oh, we have a great lineup," said Wainwright, the only one in the batting order who failed to reach base. "We have some guys who have probably not made a name for themselves, but they'll be known quick. It's a good lineup. You have to grind all the way to the pitcher's spot."

The Cardinals started their winning rally off Daniel Ray Herrera (0-1). Pujols -- 4 for 5 with two homers on opening day -- singled off Logan Ondrusek for the lead. Holliday followed with a double off the base of the wall in center, turning it into a painful learning experience for the rookie reliever making his second big league appearance.

Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright delivers a pitch during the first inning.

"I threw Pujols a cutter," Ondrusek said. "He broke his bat, but he's still strong enough to get it out there and score the run. Holliday the same thing -- a cutter that caught too much of the plate. It's something you've got to learn."

The top five hitters in the Cardinals' order scored, with Pujols -- batting third -- and Holliday doing the most damage.

"We're getting what we've earned," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "We're really cranking out a lot of good at-bats."

The Reds promoted the second game of the season as "opening night" and had several special attractions, including postgame fireworks. The first night game usually draws a small crowd -- only 13,568 showed up to see the Mets last season. The Reds sold 28,132 tickets for Wednesday's game, their biggest crowd for a second game since 1994.

The unusually large weeknight crowd saw another loss to the defending NL Central champions, who have the top two starters and the best 3-4 hitting combination in the division.

Both ends of the equation came through again.

Pujols drove in four runs and scored four more during an 11-6 win on Monday, one that featured four Cardinals homers -- a club record for a season opener. They stayed unbeaten with a little old-fashioned small ball.

Right-hander Johnny Cueto gave up only five hits in six innings, but the Cardinals managed to lump them together. David Freese singled home a run in the second with a soft liner over the head of second baseman Brandon Phillips, and Ryan Ludwick drove in another with a single through the left side of the infield in the third.

Cueto was locked in against Pujols, refusing to give him anything to hit. He walked Pujols on a full-count pitch in the first inning rather than throwing something in the strike zone. Cueto got him looking at a third strike in his next at-bat, a 94 mph fastball right at the knees, then retired him on routine fly.

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