Published May 15, 2011
CINCINNATI – The Reds ended emphatically put a stop to Chris Carpenter's five-year streak of dominating them. Those bad feelings? Judging by the final out, they're not going to end anytime soon.
If anything, the NL Central's rock 'em, sock 'em rivalry keeps getting livelier.
Brandon Phillips hit a bases-loaded double in the seventh inning Sunday that ended Carpenter's outing and his long streak of beating the Reds, who held on for a 9-7 victory and three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.
"The teams don't like each other," said Lance Berkman, who struck out against Cordero for the final out. "That's just part of the deal."
The Reds' first home sweep of the Cardinals since September 2007 left them alone atop the NL Central, 1½ games ahead of the fuming Cardinals. The Reds got the better of their two-team race last season, and reasserted themselves over the weekend as the ones to beat.
"It's always a beautiful thing getting a sweep," Phillips said. "I'm happy with a win no matter who we're playing. We're having fun right now."
Not the Cardinals.
Carpenter (1-3) hadn't lost to the Reds since June 6, 2006, winning his last 10 decisions against them. Phillips, despised by the Cardinals for his demeaning remarks that touched off a brawl last season, got the decisive hit.
Trailing 4-2 in the seventh, the Cardinals intentionally walked National League MVP Joey Votto and let Carpenter face Phillips with the bases loaded. His double made it 6-2 and ended Carpenter's outing. Jay Bruce followed with a two-run double off Trever Miller.
"Like I've been telling everybody, everybody has their day," Phillips said. "Today, we hit his mistakes and took advantage of situations. I love the way we're playing right now."
Left-hander Travis Wood (3-3) gave up back-to-back solo homers by Berkman and Yadier Molina in the second inning, but little else against the NL's most-prolific lineup.
The Reds' bullpen let most of a 9-2 lead get away, letting the tension build in the ninth.
Aroldis Chapman walked four of the five batters he faced, extending his streak of wildness. Nick Masset gave up a two-run double by Ryan Theriot that cut it to 9-5. Cordero came on with one out and gave up a two-run double to Nick Punto, then came up-and-in with a two-strike pitch to Pujols that hit the first baseman on his left wrist.
Pujols realized that Cordero didn't want to put the tying run on base, but some of his teammates started yelling at Cordero.
"I'm sure Francisco wasn't trying to do it on purpose, not with Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman coming up," Pujols said.
Cordero got Holliday to hit into a forceout, then struck out Berkman and pumped his arm in celebration like he usually does. That's when the words flew back and forth between the mound and the Cardinals' dugout. Cordero waved angrily toward the Cardinals dugout before lining up to shake hands with teammates.
"I wasn't trying to hit him," Cordero said. "I've got nothing against the Cardinals."
Pujols stayed in the game with a bruise that quickly became the latest enduring mark in the rivalry.
"They took offense to it, we took offense to it, and the soap opera continues between these guys," acting Cardinals manager Joe Pettini said. "It's always something when you come in here."
Cincinnati's starting lineup had a combined .211 average against Carpenter, who went 5-0 against the Reds last season and was a big reason for the Cardinals' 12-6 record against them.
Pitching in a steady rain on a 55-degree afternoon, he lost his hold on a team starting to find its stride. The defending NL Central champions have won nine of their last 11, moving a season-high six games over .500 at 23-17. Cincinnati's 1½-game lead is its biggest since April 17.
The sweep left the Reds 4-2 against St. Louis this season.
NOTES: Carpenter's last loss to the Reds was 7-0 against Eric Milton. ... It was the first time the Cardinals got swept this season. ... Berkman's homer snapped an 0-for-15 slump and gave him 22 at Great American Ball Park, the most by any visiting player. ... Reds C Ryan Hanigan is sidelined by a sore right hand, hit by a pitch on Friday night. He would have played Sunday if healthy. ... C Ramon Hernandez hit three solo homers in the last two games. Hernandez has six homers, one shy of his total last season. ... Chapman threw 18 balls in 23 pitches. He has walked 12 batters in his last four appearances.