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Renteria, Rolen, Pujols boost NL-leading Cards

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Chris Carpenter is happy with his record,
unconcerned about being bypassed for the All-Star game.

Backed by his trio of All-Star infielders, Chris Carpenter
struck out eight and walked none in seven-plus innings Monday to
lead the St. Louis Cardinals over the Cincinnati Reds 4-1.

Carpenter, 9-3 with a 3.50 ERA, allowed one run and five hits,
including an RBI single in the sixth to Barry Larkin.

"It's an honor to be where I'm at right now, compared to where
I was, to even be considered," said Carpenter, who missed most of
the last two years because of a shoulder injury. "I'm just happy
the way things are going and I'm going to continue to work."

Edgar Renteria and Scott Rolen drove in two runs each, and
Albert Pujols had three hits for St. Louis.

Larkin, also an All-Star, hit a drive up the middle that barely
missed Carpenter's head.

"It didn't touch me but it brought some memories back,"
Carpenter said. "I got hit in Chicago one time right on the side
of the face."

Carpenter, who had been 1-2 in his previous four starts, has
pitched seven or more innings in nine starts. The Cardinals are
12-4 when he pitches.

After the All-Star selections were revealed on Sunday, manager
Tony La Russa spent several minutes talking to Carpenter at the
player's locker. A day later, both agreed Carpenter could use the
three-day break.

"It's not all bad," La Russa said. "Chris knows he got
consideration, and that's a heck of a step from where he was last
year and two years ago. And he'll be nice and fresh when he starts
the second half."

Jason Isringhausen got three outs for his 19th save in 23
chances, walking Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn before striking out
Wily Mo Pena to end the game.

St. Louis, an NL-best 50-32, is 4-0 on a nine-game homestand and
moved a season-best 18 games above .500. Cardinals pitchers have
allowed only five runs in the four games.

"I think we've been good all year," La Russa said. "And right
now we're really good."

Center fielder Jim Edmonds and second baseman Tony Womack made
diving stops to back Carpenter on Bob Gibson bobblehead day. The
Cardinals Hall of Famer threw out the first pitch and drew a
standing ovation.

Griffey was 0-for-3 a day after his first All-Star selection
since 2000 and remained homerless in 10 games since he hit No. 500
on June 20 at St. Louis. Griffey, who just missed a home run in the
ninth inning when his down the line was called foul, is 5-for-37
with one RBI since reaching 500.

Ryan Freel had three hits and scored a run for the Reds, who
have lost 11 of 14 on the road. He's 7-for-10 the last two games.

Cory Lidle (6-6) took a shutout in the fifth, then gave up four
runs and five hits. Renteria hit a two-run double on a full count
and Rolen hit a two-run single to give him a major league-leading
80 RBI. Rolen had been 1-for-12 against Lidle.

"For the most part, they were decent pitches," Lidle said.
"They just did a good job of hitting them."

Lidle had been dominant in his two previous starts, allowing two
runs over 15 innings in a pair of victories. Both of those games
were against the New York Mets, and he expected a tougher day from
the Cardinals.

"With their 3-4-5 hitters, it's hard to not let them score,"
Lidle said. "They've got a great lineup."

Game notes
The Cardinals have won a season-high six straight at home.
... The Reds recalled C Corky Miller from Triple-A Louisville. ...
Freel is 15-for-30 in his last seven games. ... The Reds are 11-6
against first-place teams, with three of the losses against the
Cardinals. ... Rolen is batting .435 (37-for-85) with runners in
scoring position.