Rolen, Cards increase Central lead with win vs. Reds

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The pressure of a tight game against the St. Louis Cardinals' closest pursuer in the NL Central brought out Scott Rolen's best.

Rolen tied the score with a home run in the seventh inning and then hit a winning single in the ninth that led St. Louis over the Cincinnati Reds 2-1 on Thursday and boosted the Cardinals' NL Central lead back to 2½ games.

"The at-bats that are tough are ones in 8-1, 9-1, 10-1 games," Rolen said. "Those are filling up stat sheets. I enjoy the competitiveness of an at-bat. Today, every at-bat was worthwhile. Every at-bat was meaningful."

Ken Griffey Jr. put Cincinnati ahead in the seventh against Jeff Weaver with his 25th homer of the season. It was also the 561st of his career, which moved him within two of Reggie Jackson for 10th place on the career list.

Elias Says

Ken Griffey Jr.
Ken Griffey Jr. homered on the 12th pitch of his at-bat against Jeff Weaver in the seventh inning at St. Louis. It was the longest at-bat in the major leagues to end in a home run since Miguel Cabrera went deep on a 13-pitch at-bat against Vicente Padilla on Sept. 23, 2004.

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The drive came after Griffey fouled off six straight pitches on a full count. It was his 1,042nd extra-base hit, breaking a tie with Pete Rose for 20th place.

"He wasn't going to give in," Griffey said. "That's just a guy out there competing who's not going to take anything for granted. I didn't give in."

Rolen hit his 17th homer of the season, his first since Aug. 7 at Cincinnati, in the bottom half off Kyle Lohse. He said he narrowly missed on the previous pitch, which he fouled straight


"I'm not up there trying to hit a home run," Rolen said. "If you get a ball in the middle of the plate and you put a good swing on it, something like that happens."

Chris Duncan, who had three hits in each game of the three-game series, singled off Ryan Franklin (2-6) starting the ninth and Albert Pujols walked on four pitches. Duncan scored easily on Rolen's single.

Franklin said he did his job, inducing groundballs.

"It's tough luck, pretty much, is what it is," Franklin said. "But you know, I'm not going to change anything. Probably eight, nine times out of 10, those groundballs will be where they're supposed to be."

Jason Isringhausen (4-5) retired the Reds' 2-3-4 hitters in order in the ninth. It was his first appearance since David Ross'

game-winning homer on Aug. 9 at Cincinnati.

St. Louis took two of three from the second-place Reds. The Cardinals won without Jim Edmonds, who missed his second straight game because of post-concussion syndrome, although trainer Barry Weinberg said Edmonds was feeling better and could play on Friday in the opener of a three-game series at Chicago.

Weaver, acquired July 5 from the Los Angeles Angels, allowed one run and three hits in 7 1/3 innings. He was moved ahead of Jeff Suppan in the rotation after limiting the Reds to one run in six innings in a victory on Aug. 9.

Cincinnati finished 9-6 against the Cardinals, going 5-4 at new Busch Stadium after a 119-139 record at old Busch. Griffey is 9-for-17 at new Busch Stadium with four homers, six RBI and five walks. He homered only four times in 71 at-bats at old Busch,

although one was the 500th of his career in 2004.

Lohse, making his third start for Cincinnati since being acquired from the Twins, worked seven innings and gave up five hits, struck out six and walked one. He has given up two earned runs in 13 1/3 innings his last two appearances but has no victories to go with his 2.33 ERA.

"It's just been tough," Lohse said. "I hope the next four days go by real quick."

After Brandon Phillips doubled leading off the eighth and advanced on a sacrifice, Adam Wainwright relieved, struck out pinch-hitter Javier Valentin with the infield in and retired Ryan Freel on a flyout. It was his first outing since giving up four runs in one-third of an inning at Pittsburgh on Sunday.Game notes
Mel Ott is 19th in extra-base hits with 1,071. ... Freel robbed David Eckstein of a hit with a diving catch in right field for the last out in the eighth. ... Scott Hatteberg was 0-for-12 in the series. ... Duncan, a rookie and son of pitching coach Dave Duncan, is 11-for-19 during a five-game hitting streak and is 18-for-34 in his last nine games.