Stephenson pitches two-hit ball for seven innings

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Garrett Stephenson wouldn't let the Cincinnati
Reds sweep the St. Louis Cardinals again.

Stephenson pitched two-hit ball for seven innings and Edgar
Renteria's RBI double woke up St. Louis' slumbering offense in a
6-3 victory Thursday. The Cardinals had lost six straight to
Cincinnati the last two weeks, getting outscored 34-19.

"We get irritated at losing, so maybe that helps a little
bit," Stephenson said. "But every game is the same, and we put in
our piece every fifth day."

Jim Edmonds hit a two-run homer and Renteria's hit snapped a
seventh-inning tie. The Cardinals had lost seven of the previous
eight overall to fall from first in the NL Central to fourth, and
the victory brought them back to .500 heading into a weekend series
against the first-place Cubs.

"Yeah, they can't beat us seven times in a row," Scott Rolen
said of the Reds. "You're not going to roll over if you lose the
first two, and today was a big win with a big series coming up."

Pinch-hitter Ken Griffey Jr. had an RBI single with two outs in
the ninth to cut it to 6-3, but Cal Eldred struck out Juan Castro
with two on for his first career save.

The Reds had won eight of nine overall to move two games above
.500 for the first time since last August. They lost without
Griffey, Barry Larkin and Austin Kearns in the starting lineup.

Griffey made his first start Wednesday since dislocating his
right shoulder on April 5. Larkin missed his second straight start
since reinjuring his left calf Tuesday, and Kearns sat out after
driving in all four runs with a low-grade fever in Wednesday's 4-0

Adam Dunn hit his team-leading 14th homer, and second in three
games, for the Reds' first run in the second.

"We have a lot of talent in this room and in the last two weeks
our strength has started to show," Cincinnati's Aaron Boone said.
"To play well against your division rivals -- you figure this is
the team to beat -- is always a bonus."

Rolen tied it with a run-scoring single in the fourth, snapping
St. Louis' 18-inning scoreless drought.

Renteria, who leads the NL with a .367 average, was 2-for-4 and
snapped the tie with a double off John Riedling (0-2) with none out
in the seventh. The hit scored Rolen from first after he was hit by
a pitch to open the inning.

The Cardinals had been 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position
in the three-game series before Rolen's hit in the fourth.

St. Louis added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh off Kent
Mercker on RBI singles by Tino Martinez and Fernando Vina.
Martinez, who had been 3-for-30 with runners in scoring position,
drove in his first run since April 26 and 10th overall after being
bumped down a notch to seventh in the batting order a day earlier.

Edmonds snapped a 3-for-34 slump with his eighth homer off Felix
Heredia in the eighth for a 6-1 lead.

Stephenson (3-2) was working on six days' rest and allowed one
run with three strikeouts and two walks. Besides Dunn's homer, the
Reds got only one runner into scoring position against the

Stephenson, injured most of last season, topped last year's
victory total and won for the second time in seven starts. He
allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings in his last start, at Cincinnati
on May 8, getting the loss.

The difference: "We'll go to the easy part," Stephenson said.
"My ball was down today."

Jeff Fassero threw a hitless eighth but loaded the bases in the
ninth on three straight singles. Eldred came on and got three outs
to finish the six-hitter, allowing a sacrifice fly to Dunn and
Griffey's run-scoring single.

Riedling, a converted reliever, worked a career-high six innings
and allowed three runs on five hits. He struck out two and walked

It felt like I was getting into a groove," Riedling said.

"Probably that last inning I felt like maybe I was too

Game notes
Danny Graves, who threw a four-hitter for his first career
shutout on Wednesday, pinch ran for Larkin in the eighth after he
drew a walk as a pinch-hitter. ... The Reds have only four healthy
infielders and got a scare when 2B Castro absorbed a hard slide
from Renteria on a double play in the second. Castro limped off the
field, but was able to finish the game. ... Renteria leads the NL
with 20 multihit games.