Cincinnati Reds Mug Chris Carpenter, Sweep Cardinals to Move into 1st Place

Cliff Eastham@RedsToTheBoneSenior Writer IIMay 16, 2011

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 10:  Infielder Scott Rolen #27 of the Cincinnati Reds in action during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 10, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Diamondbacks defeated the Reds 10-8.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds had a good weekend, leap-frogging the St. Louis Cardinals to gain first place in the National League Central Division.

The Cards came to town leading the division by a mere half-game. They left the Queen City with their tails collectively tucked between their legs, via a three-game sweep.

The Reds’ whipping of the Cardinals knocked a couple of monkeys off their backs. They beat Chris Carpenter (1-3) for the first time in five years, and swept the Cards in a home series for the first time since 2007.

Carpenter’s spell over the Reds was second only to Astros-turned-Phillies, Roy Oswalt.

The thrashing on Sunday turned into a nail biter by the absolute amateurish performance turned in by Reds’ reliever Aroldis Chapman. He came into the ninth inning with a lead of 9-2, and proceeded to issue free passes to four of the five men he faced. The only out he induced was caught at the wall by Drew Stubbs.

Clearly, it is never good to walk anyone unintentionally. To walk in a run is tantamount to baseball treason. Aiding and abetting the enemy won’t keep you in the big leagues very long. Chapman threw 26 pitches and only found the plate five times.

The Cardinals are good enough working solo; they don’t need a handout, let alone four of them.  

What should have been a rout, ended with perennial Reds-killer Lance Berkman batting with two on and two outs. It was Berkman’s second trip to the plate in the inning and he represented the go-ahead run.

Coco Cordero earned his seventh save of the season as Berkman swung at a 2-2 pitch and missed badly.

Reds’ starter Travis Wood (3-3) pitched six strong innings and was only roughed up in the second inning.

Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips knocked in two runs each while Scott Rolen, Drew Stubbs, Ramon Hernandez and Bruce got two hits each.

Hernandez had three home runs in the series, two on Saturday and one Sunday.

Rolen, a former Cardinal, hit them like he owned them. He was 7-for-13 with a double, a triple and two RBI, and put 57 points on his season batting average.

Chris Heisey hit his fifth pinch hit round-tripper in two years in the eighth inning.

The Reds are 1 ½ games ahead of the Cardinals as they begin a two game home series against the Chicago Cubs. Homer Bailey (2-0) will face Carlos Zambrano (4-1) in the opener Monday.