Rolen bites Cardinals this time with two-run single in Reds' 4-2 win

Monday, July 16, 2012
Reds third baseman Scott Rolen singles to drive in two runs during the eighth inning Sunday in Cincinnati. (AL BEHRMAN ~ Associated Press)

CINCINNATI -- So much for that momentum.

The defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals emerged from the All-Star break with four wins in their last five games, a key player ready to return and a feeling that things were starting to fall into place after a first half marred by injuries.

Nope.

The Cardinals got swept by the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday night, losing 4-2 on Scott Rolen's bases-loaded single in the eighth inning. St. Louis played three close games and lost all three.

"We have our moments, but it's just doing it on a consistent basis," said Jake Westbrook, who let it get away in the eighth.

The Reds' sixth straight win matched their longest streak of the season, moved them a season-high 12 games over .500 and bumped them a game ahead of Pittsburgh for the division lead. St. Louis fell 4 1/2 games back.

Rolen's two-out single off Mitchell Boggs snapped a 2-2 tie. It was the second straight day that a former Cardinals player beat St. Louis. Ryan Ludwick hit a game-ending homer in the 10th for a 3-2 win Saturday.

Westbrook (7-8) set up the winning rally. He walked Joey Votto with one out, threw a wild pitch and hit Brandon Phillips on the arm to end his outing.

"I hadn't walked a guy all night, and I walked him," Westbrook said. "Then I hit Phillips, which ultimately cost us the game."

Homer Bailey (8-6) went eight innings during a fill-in start for Johnny Cueto, who was sidelined by a blister. Bailey gave up two runs, one earned, and nine hits while winning his third straight start.

With the 39,280 fans on their feet chanting "sweep," Aroldis Chapman fanned the side in the ninth for his 13th save in 17 chances. The hard-throwing lefty pitched in all three games of the series -- only the second time he's gone three days in a row during his career.

The other time was in 2010, when he helped the Reds to the NL Central title.

It was a sadly familiar outcome for St. Louis, which leads the NL in batting average, hits and runs, but it couldn't get a game-breaking hit during the series. The Cardinals stranded 30 runners in the three games.

They got the first two runners aboard in the eighth, but Bailey pitched out of it. Then Rolen provided the game winner.

"They got the big hit," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We had a similar situation in the eighth. They ended up making it happen, and we didn't."

Bailey was scheduled to start Tuesday, but he got pushed up two days after Cueto developed a blister on the index finger of his pitching hand during a bullpen throwing session. It was a break for the Cardinals. Cueto leads the Reds with 10 wins and is third in the NL with a 2.39 ERA.

Votto singled and had an RBI double, his first hits of the series. Votto hasn't gone more than two games without a hit this season.

Yadier Molina had a single, a run-scoring double and his second homer of the series. He got booed loudly as he rounded the bases in the sixth after tying it at 2-2. Molina has been booed during every at-bat since his fight with Phillips in 2010 at Great American Ball Park.

The solo shot made it 68 straight games with a homer at the ballpark, the longest streak since there were 80 consecutive games with a homer at Coors Field in 2002 and 2003.

Matt Holliday had a pair of hits and extended his hitting streak to 14 games, the longest by a Cardinals player this season.

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