Reds-Cardinals: Pujols Gets Holiday Fireworks Started Early

Brian McDowellCorrespondent IJuly 4, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 31:  Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals warms up in the dugout before he bats against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on May 31, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Down three runs in the eighth inning, the struggling St. Louis offense managed to load the bases, and then, foolishly decided to pitch to Albert Pujols. Walking him in this situation would have only scored one run.

Throwing a weak pitch right down the middle to him resulted in four. Pujols’s grand slam powered the Cardinals to a dramatic 7-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds.

The Redbirds’ pitching was unsteady enough to make any St. Louis area viewer watching it break out in jitters and hives.

Joel Piniero gave up three runs and eight hits in seven innings, and only managed one strikeout. Josh Kinney was predictably terrible. Even Ryan Franklin, usually the Cards’ steadiest pitching hand, showed some up and down inconsistency.

However, it must be said, that, even at their bleakest moments, St. Louis pitching does get the job done a lot more often they don’t.

Pujols drove in five of the team’s runs. This is what any fan of this ball-club has come to expect this season. However, Cardinal Nation did get a surprise gift in this game. The other two of the team’s runs were driven in by rookie second baseman, Jarrett Hoffpauir, in his Major League debut.

His performance tonight was almost good enough to make Cardinals fans forget about the various headaches causes this season by Khalil Greene, Joe Thurston, and, recently, Mark DeRosa.

Ankiel and Duncan were terrible at the plate in this game, like they usually are, but Colby Rasmus continued to impress.

It was a night of dramatic highs and lows, but, in the end, only the score really matters.

The Cardinals have won three games in a row, and they lead their division by one game, so it is going to be difficult for Internet smart-asses like me to criticize them for at least a day.

They play two afternoon games against the Reds this weekend. It remains to be seen how long this sudden gust of momentum that seems to be propelling the Cardinals forward can last.