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Huge St. Louis rally stuns relaxed Reds
CINCINNATI -- Up by eight runs in the second inning, the Cincinnati Reds relaxed, substituted and chalked it up as a win.
They won't do that again.
J.D. Drew hit a two-run homer off Danny Graves in the eighth inning as the St. Louis Cardinals pulled off their biggest rally in 10 years, beating the Reds 10-8 on Sunday.
Drew had a two-run single in the fifth inning that started the comeback, and homered with two outs in the eighth to leave the third-place Cardinals feeling that their season is finally turning.
St. Louis hadn't pulled off such a comeback since it trailed Atlanta by nine runs on May 9, 1992 and wound up winning 12-11.
"You never know what can happen," said Drew, who was in a 1-for-13 rut before leading the comeback. "We could have shut it down and tried to get out early and gone home."
That's what the first-place Reds did.
Reds start fast
Reggie Taylor's first career grand slam helped the Reds surge ahead 8-0 after two innings. Manager Bob Boone then substituted for shortstop Barry Larkin, who had singled and doubled but often leaves when a game is decided as a precaution against injury.
The rest of the lineup went flat as Cincinnati had its biggest blown lead since Sept. 4, 1989, when San Francisco overcame an 8-0 deficit in Cincinnati and won 9-8.
"It will tell a lot about the team in how we rebound," Cincinnati's Adam Dunn said. "I thought we got lazy when we were up 8-0. We were kind of cruising. You can't do that. I hope we'll learn from this."
The Cardinals scored five runs in the middle innings off Elmer Dessens, who faded fast, then pulled out their second win against the Reds' closer. In the series opener, Edgar Renteria hit a two-run homer off Graves in the eighth inning for a 4-2 victory.
Gabe White got two outs in the eighth before Graves (1-1) relieved with two on. Placido Polanco doubled home two runs and scored the tying run on Fernando Vina's bad-hop double over Dunn at first base.
Drew hit Graves' second pitch well over the wall in right-center, prompting the Cardinals' dugout to erupt in cheers and high-fives. Graves was booed loudly by the crowd of 20,622 as he walked off the field with his head down after the inning.
"I got behind 1-0 and then threw a sinker that didn't sink," Graves said. "If my sinker doesn't sink, I'm in trouble. I threw two bad ones (in the series) and they were both home runs."
Gene Stechschulte (4-1), the sixth Cardinals pitcher, went two innings for the win. Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his eighth save in ninth chances.
The Cardinals won two of three in Cincinnati and moved to 4 1/2 games behind the NL Central leaders, keeping with their plan of staying close until they get their injured pitchers back.
St. Louis has five pitchers on the disabled list. Garrett Stephenson and Woody Williams are expected to be activated and start during an upcoming three-game series against the Cubs, and the others could be back in June.
The comeback gave them a sense that things were looking up.
"We all needed something like that," Vina said. "Playing against the top team in our division and winning a game like that brings a lot of good vibes that we needed."
St. Louis temporarily lost another reliever Sunday when Mike Matthews bruised his left thumb on Aaron Boone's comeback grounder in the fifth. He left the game for X-rays that were normal.
The Cardinals changed their makeshift rotation at the start of the series to give Travis Smith a start. The move backfired as Cincinnati scored six runs in the first, highlighted by Taylor's second career homer.
The Reds scored two more runs in the second, then got so comfortable that they took Larkin out.