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Reds Benefit From Pujols' Error in Win

June 30, 2002|From Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — Albert Pujols handed the Cincinnati Reds a victory, evening their weekend National League Central showdown with the St. Louis Cardinals at a game apiece.

Pujols dropped a routine fly ball in left field in the seventh inning, allowing the Reds to score the go-ahead run in a 4-2 victory that cut the Cardinals' lead to one game.

"You know, it happens," Pujols said. "It can happen to Albert Pujols and it can happen to the best. It was the wrong time to happen."

Todd Walker lofted a pop-up to medium left with two out in the seventh, and the ball glanced off the glove of Pujols, who had been camped under it for several seconds. Pujols looked at his glove as if it had betrayed him before retrieving the ball as Jason LaRue scored from second for a 3-2 lead.

The error was Pujols' second in 41 starts in left field, and first fielding error. Walker said the ball he hit was a slider down the middle that he usually would hit to center.

"I cut into it and hit it to left, so it had a lot of spin on it," Walker said. "That being said, you don't expect an outfielder to miss it. So we got a gift."

Pinch-hitter Barry Larkin's sacrifice fly off Mike Matthews had tied it, and Aaron Boone gave the Reds a two-run lead with an RBI single, also off Matthews. Luther Hackman (1-3) gave up a single to LaRue, the only batter he faced.

"It was a weird game," Manager Tony La Russa said. "It's one of those games where there's not a whole lot to say. It could have turned out better, that's for sure."

Juan Encarnacion hit his second homer in as many games and 16th of the season for the Reds, who have won four of five after losing eight in a row. Encarnacion was three for four and is 16 for 34 (.471) in the last 10 games.

"This game is completely full of ups and downs," Walker said. "The one saying you learn quick in baseball is you never get too low and you never get too high when things are good. We do a good job of that."

Elmer Dessens (5-4) gave up two runs and six hits in six innings, winning for the first time in five starts since June 2. In three starts against the Cardinals, he is 1-0 with a 3.70 earned-run average. He said he threw more changeups and curveballs than in the past.

"The best thing was I kept the team in the game," Dessens said. "That's very important."

Jim Edmonds and Eli Marrero homered for the Cardinals, who went 41 innings without giving up a long ball before Marrero connected in the fifth. Edmonds also robbed the Reds of a run with a diving catch of Walker's sinking liner to center in the fifth, easily doubling LaRue off second.

Edmonds was two for three with a bunt single in the first and a sixth-inning home run.

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