Monday, July 26, 2004 - At Great American Ballpark (Woody Williams - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent: Cincinnati Reds (Paul Wilson - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance: 23,155
The Tremendous Trio - Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds - each homered and scored two runs, as the Cardinals won an eleven-inning war of attrition over the Cincinnati Reds, by a final score of 9-6. The three Redbird home runs were required to send the game to extra innings - deadlocked at five runs apiece.
Cincinnati also went yard three times; however, it would be a dropped fly ball by Reds' right fielder, Wily Mo Pena, which opened the floodgates in the eleventh-inning - allowing the opportunistic Cardinals to score four unearned runs to ensure victory.
St Louis starter - Woody Williams - had better games. He got off to a shaky start when a Sean Casey RBI double and a two-run home run off the bat of D'Angelo Jiminez gave the Reds a quick 3-0 lead after one inning.
The Cardinals got one run back in the second, when Scott Rolen led-off with a double - but only advanced to third when Jim Edmonds hit a long fly ball to center which Rolen thought was going to be caught - but it landed safely - causing a red-faced Rolen to hear Edmonds chirping from second base about being deprived of an RBI. Instead, Reggie Sanders had the honor - scoring Rolen with a sacrifice fly, to make it a 3-1 game.
In the fourth-inning, Rolen took matters into his own hands with a one-out solo home run - his 21st of the season - to trim the deficit to a 3-2 Cincinnati advantage.
Edmonds responded in the sixth-inning - jumping on the first pitch from Reds starter Paul Wilson for a two-out two-run home run - his 25th of the season - to give the Cardinals a brief 4-3 lead.
The Reds regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth, on a pair of solo home runs - the first from Adam Dunn, leading-off the inning - and one out later, a blast from Wily Mo Pena.
After Wilson retired the first two Cardinal batters in the eighth-inning, Pujols tied the game in dramatic fashion - by bashing his 29th home run of the season. At that point, Reds manager Dave Miley went to the bullpen - first bringing in Todd Jones, then Danny Graves - to keep the Cardinals scoreless until the eleventh.
Likewise, Tony LaRussa went to the bullpen after Williams completed his six innings of work - using Calero, Kline, Tavarz, Eldred and King (4-1) to keep the Reds in check through ten-innings.
With Phil Norton (1-3) on the mound for the Reds to begin the eleventh-inning, Edmonds coaxed a lead-off walk. That would be the only batter Norton would face, as John Riedling was summoned in from the bullpen to face Sanders - and he got his man on, a fly ball to right field. However, John Mabry couldn't be contained - lining a single to left, as Edmonds stopped at second.
Then, Mike Matheny cleverly lined one to Wily Mo Pena in right field - who dropped the ball. The clanging sound of ball meeting glove reverberated throughout the vast confines of Great American Ballpark - as the opportunistic Redbirds now had the bases loaded with just one out.
The Cardinal batters decided right field was the place to hit it - and they did just that to score four unearned runs.
Tony Womack drove in the first unearned run for the Cardinals, with a single to Wily Mo - scoring Edmonds. Next up, pinch hitter So Taguchi (batting for winning pitcher Ray King) hit a long sacrifice fly to Wily Mo - not only scoring Mabry with the second unearned run of the inning - it also advanced the clever and speedy Matheny to third. Womack then stole second with Edgar Renteria at bat. With first base open, Riedling, not so cleverly decided to pitch to the Cardinals' shortstop - and Edgar rewarded him with a two-run single to Wily Mo - to conclude the scoring for St Louis: Four unearned runs, to take a 9-5 lead, heading into the bottom of the eleventh.
Jason Isringhausen - in a non-save situation - closed the game out - although he allowed an unearned run of his own - but that was it. John Mabry - a good hitter but not a great left fielder - dropped Adam Dunn's line drive to open the bottom of the eleventh. The clanging sound reverberated nicely from the acoustical splendor of left field. Then one out later, with Dunn on second base, Wily Mo tried to atone for his earlier gaffe - lining a ground rule double to score the final run of the game for Cincinnati.
In the end, the game that began as a six-home run slug-fest in regulation, became an extra-inning comedy of errors. The Cardinals had the last laugh - improving to 63-36 - first place in the NL Central - now 10 games ahead of the second-place Cubs.