Reds get to Williams early, rally late for victory


CINCINNATI (AP) -- For whatever reason, the Cincinnati Reds are
at their best at the end of close games. That's when Aaron Boone

Boone led off the bottom of the ninth with a homer off Dustin Hermanson for a 5-4 victory Monday night that stopped the St. Louis Cardinals' winning streak at seven games.

Boone doubled home a couple of runs in the first, then won it
with his sixth homer of the season, setting up another group
huddle-and-jump at home plate.

Eight of Cincinnati's 14 wins have come in its last at-bat.

"We keep showing a lot of heart," said Boone, who had two
game-ending homers last season. "If we can hang around, we seem to
find a way to win. If we're going to win a lot of games, we've got
to play cleaner games."

The Reds allowed a surprising four-run lead off Woody Williams
to slip away because of more shoddy defense. They had a season-high
four errors, giving them 41 for the season, the most in the majors.

The two decisive mistakes were made by Williams and Hermanson
(0-1). Each left a slider over the plate for Boone, and quickly
regretted it.

"I hung a slider to Boone and you saw what he does to that,"
said Williams, who settled down and lasted eight innings. "He did
it at the end of the game, too."

Hermanson opened the ninth by throwing a pair of strikes, then
missed twice before going to his slider.

"Just one hanging slider," said Hermanson, who was
second-guessing himself. "I got beat on my third-best pitch,
instead of a fastball or a splitter."

Boone is one of the Reds' best clutch hitters. He's hitting .333
with runners in scoring position, and knows how to relax under
late-inning pressure.

"Some days, you just feel good," Boone said. "I hate to be
'aw shucks' about it, but that's kind of how it is."

Scott Williamson (3-1) relieved and got a strikeout and a
harmless fly to escape a threat in the top of the ninth.

The Reds got off to a fast start against Williams, who has been
the Cardinals' most dominant starter -- only four runs allowed in
his first five starts. He came into the game with a 1.09 ERA that
led the majors.

In only two innings Monday, he doubled his run total. Jose Guillen extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a run-scoring
double in the first, and Boone doubled home two more.

Juan Castro hit the first homer off Williams this season, a solo
shot that rode the wind into the first row of seats in left field
in the second inning.

Castro's third homer was stunning. Williams has given up only
two in his last 11 starts, and none of the Cardinals had allowed a
homer during the seven-game winning streak.

Williams' tough first inning also snapped a streak of 11
straight games in which St. Louis starters had gone at least six
innings and given up two or fewer runs.

"I don't know what it was -- the new ballpark, my first time
pitching here," said Williams, who gave up six hits and one walk
in eight innings. "No excuses. They got four runs before you can
blink an eye."

The worst defense in the majors let the Cardinals back into the
game. Edgar Renteria had a sacrifice fly in the fourth, and starter
John Riedling's throwing error allowed a run to score in the fifth.

The Cardinals tied it with two runs in the seventh, when the
Reds failed to turn two double plays, committed an error and
allowed a run on a wild pitch.

Scott Sullivan hit Williams on the arm with a pitch to start the
inning, and Fernando Vina singled. Shortstop Felipe Lopez threw
into the photographers' pit while trying to turn a double play,
allowing Williams to score.

The Reds again failed to turn two -- Lopez's throw pulled
reliever Felix Heredia off first base -- and Heredia threw a wild
pitch that let in the run that tied it at 4.

Game notes
The Cardinals' Jim Edmonds went 0-for-4, dropping his
average from .402 to .385 and ending his eight-game hitting streak.
... Albert Pujols, the NL player of the week, extended his hitting
streak to seven games with a double. ... Reds SS Barry Larkin ran
the bases and ran back-and-forth between cones in the outfield
before the game, testing the strained left calf that has kept him
on the DL since April 14. The calf was a little sore, but he felt
no sharp pain and expects to be activated during the series. ...
Guillen's hitting streak matches his career high.