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Reds slide into tie for division lead
ST. LOUIS -- Last month, the Cincinnati Reds blew an eight-run lead against the St. Louis Cardinals. On Sunday, they returned the favor.
Reggie Taylor and Todd Walker hit two-run singles off Jason Isringhausen in the ninth inning as the Reds rallied from six runs down in the first inning for a 12-8 victory in the finale of a three-game NL Central showdown.
The first time, when the Reds blew an 8-0 first-inning lead in a 10-8 loss May 12, was their biggest collapse of the year. This was their biggest comeback.
"I think in the back of our minds that's been on our minds the whole year," said Walker, who had four RBIs. "For this win to happen the way it did, I think it gives us a little justice."
The Reds took two of three to move into a first-place tie with the Cardinals, who have lost three of four. The Cardinals have lost the finale in nine of their last 10 series.
"I think I'm like one of our fans: brokenhearted," manager Tony La Russa said. "Sometimes you break their hearts and sometimes they break yours."
Albert Pujols's two-run double kickstarted a six-run first inning for the Cardinals, who also got two-run homers from Tino Martinez and Mike DiFelice. Reds starter Luis Pineda lasted only one-third of an inning.
The Reds trailed 8-6 entering the ninth before chasing Isringhausen (2-1), who blew his second save in his last three games. Taylor's two-run single with one out tied the score and Walker, 0-for-10 the first two games of the series, put the Reds ahead by two with his fourth hit.
Isringhausen has worked in five of the last six games, but rejected fatigue as an excuse.
"I felt fine out there," he said. "I just didn't have any command. It was just one of those days that was bad."
Aaron Boone added a two-run homer off Gene Stechschulte in the ninth.
Scott Sullivan (5-2) allowed one run and four hits in three innings, striking out five and walking one.
Pujols has 24 RBIs in 24 games this month. He's batting .395 (17-for-43) against the Reds with three homers and eight RBIs in 12 games.
Cardinals starter Matt Morris struggled in 93-degree heat, giving up five runs on nine hits in five innings. Morris struck out six and walked two.
"It's hot, that's a given," Morris said. "I just didn't make my pitches. We scored six in the first and I let the momentum swing right back in their favor."
The Reds got extra satisfaction because they rallied against Morris, who's 10-5.
"That does help a lot, when you go out and do that and beat up on their ace a little bit," Adam Dunn said. "That shows what kind of team we have.
"Any other team might say 'OK, we've got Matt Morris on the hill, we're through."'
Home plate umpire Kerwin Danley collapsed after four innings when the temperature reached 95 degrees. Danley was down for several minutes with cold towels wrapped around his head, and had to be assisted from the field by two Cardinals trainers.
The Cardinals said Danley was feeling fine after moving inside.
The six-run first equaled a season best for the Cardinals, who also did it June 1 against the Pirates.
The Reds scored three runs in the second on a two-run double by Walker and an RBI single by Russell Branyan to cut the gap to 6-3. Placido Polanco homered in the second off Bruce Chen before the Reds scored two more in the third on an RBI double by Sean Casey and a sacrifice fly by Branyan.
The Reds whittled the deficit to 7-6 with consecutive hits by pinch-hitter Wilton Guerrero, Walker and Boone to start the sixth off Dave Veres. But Veres recovered to strike out three of the next four batters.
Miguel Cairo's infield hit off Scott Sullivan in the eighth gave the Cardinals a two-run lead.
The Reds were 5-2 on a seven-game trip. ... Juan Encarnacion, who had six hits and a pair of homers the first two games of the series, was 1-for-4 with a walk. ... The Reds have won five of their last six on the road. ... Adam Dunn, who had been 9-for-18 entering the game, was robbed with a leaping catch at the wall by CF Jim Edmonds in the first and ended up 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. ... Tino Martinez was 3-for-5, giving him five hits the last two games of the series.