Jim Edmonds hit a grand slam in the first inning that seemed to give the Cardinals the control they needed over the host Reds. They even handed the ball to Jason Isringhausen – second in the National League in saves – to nail down the door. Oh, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

St. Louis scored two runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-3 lead, and led 7-6 going into the bottom of the ninth. Isringhausen, who recorded the final two outs in the eighth, struck out Javier Valentin on three pitches to start the inning. He then walked Rich Aurilia and that’s when it all came crashing down. David Ross, who entered as a pinch-hitter earlier in the game, fell behind 0-1 before belting a walk-off home run and giving the Reds an 8-7 win.

Great American Ballpark – widely known as a hitter’s ballpark – surrendered six home runs, Wednesday. Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter gave up three of them, although all solo. He pitched seven innings allowing six runs on six hits and striking out six batters. Isringhausen blew his eighth save opportunity of the year, and lost his fifth game.

Aaron Harang headlined for seven Reds pitchers. He earned a no decision in eight innings, giving up six runs – five earned – on eight hits and striking out seven. Harang gave up two home runs, including the slam to Edmonds. Ryan Franklin pitched a perfect ninth to get the win.

Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen left the game after two at bats because of back spasms. Scott Spiezio replaced him and went 1-for-2 with a homer and two RBI.

Cincinnati’s win brings them to within 2.5 games of the Cardinals for the NL Central lead. There’s only one game left in this series. The two teams will meet again next week for three games in St. Louis.

Related web sites:
Cardinals Official Website