Sidney Ponson was cruising, then, with two swings of the bat, things changed for the Cardinals in a 3-2 loss to the Reds. Ponson had only allowed three hits through five innings and had a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning when Adam Dunn and Edwin Encarnacion belted back-to-back, one-out homers to tie the game. Despite giving up another hit, Ponson escaped the inning, but was replaced by Braden Looper in the seventh.
The score remained 2-2 until Javier Valentin singled in Austin Kearns with one out in the bottom of the ninth to give the Reds the victory. Cardinals’ reliever Brian Falkenberg, who was just called up from Class AAA Memphis, gave up an infield single to Kearns and hit Brandon Phillips to put runners on first and third with one out. Jason LaRue moved both runners up with a grounder. Falkenborg was charged with the loss. Reds reliever Todd Coffey (2-0) got the win in two innings of relief.
The Cardinals dropped both games to the Reds, losing just their second series of the season. The other was a sweep at the hands of the Cubs during the first weekend of the season. The loss also drops the Cardinals two games behind the Reds in the National League Central.
The Cardinals started the game without Albert Pujols (stiff back), Scott Rolen (bronchitis) and Jim Edmonds (day off). Edmonds eventually played later on in the game. Pujols is expected to be back tonight. Rolen, who hasn’t played since April 24, is expected to be back with the team on Friday in Houston.
Pujols was named the National League Player of the Month on Tuesday. He hits .346 with 14 homers and 32 RBIs. He set the record for home runs in the month of May.