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Reds beat Cardinals 7-2; wins series and takes first place

MEGASPORTSNEWS.com GAME COVERAGE

CINCINNATI, OHIO – When the Civil Rights Weekend series between the St. Louis Cardinals and  Cincinnati Reds began, most of us in the media were looking at the pitchers the Cardinals would throw to assess the Reds chances. Jaime Garcia was throwing on Friday; we figured the Reds would beat him, but they didn’t. We figured there goes the chance of at least winning one game in the series. Adam Wainwright was pitching next on Saturday and everybody said “not a chance.” However, the Reds were 2-2 against him and they beat him 4-3. Then comes the rubber game on Sunday and its Brad Penny who was 7-3 against Cincinnati overall and better yet, 5-0 at Great American Ballpark since the place opened and the feeling was “1 of 2 isn’t bad.” We 2-of-3 is good for the Reds because they beat Brad Penny. Penny was throwing pitchers between 93-100 mph, but he wasn’t fooling the Reds on anything. They hit any pitch he could no matter the speed.

Great American Ballpark left field (megasportsnews.com)

Great American Ballpark right field (megasportsnews.com)

Scott Rolen homered and drove in three runs and Bronson Arroyo pitched a complete game and drove home two more runs on Sunday leading Cincinnati to a 7-2 win that ended the Cardinals long domination as the NL Central Division’s top and dominant team.

St. Louis had been in first place since July 31, 2009. The defending champions had opened a five-game lead on the Reds before going into a profound slump in the last two weeks, losing nine of their last 12 and even went 9 games without hitting a home run.

The Reds keep a National League standings pole on top of the right field bleachers of each of the divisions: East, West and Central. It changes each day. After Sunday’s last out, a fly ball to Jay Bruce in right field, the public address announcer at Great American Ballpark told those in atterndance, a rain-soaked crowd of 26,712 to look to the Central Division standings poll to see that the Reds were on top by a half-game over St. Louis by winning 7 of their last 8 games.

Cincinnati hasn’t been in first place this deep into a season since June 8, 2006.

The move into first place is a long-awaited moment for the Reds, who are trying to break a nine-year losing streak. They improved to a 2010 season-high five games over .500 at 21-16 by beating the Cardinals at their own brand of baseball: balanced offense, great defense and solid pitching.

During this eight-game turnaround for the Reds, the pitching staff has a 1.88 earned run average. They haven’t committed an error in their last 11 games, the best streak since 1997. And they’re leading the majors in getting runners from first to third with a single.

Reds Press Box (megasportsnews.com)

SOUNDS FROM THE POSTGAME LOCKER ROOM (To listen to an audio file, just click on the link)

44 955 Bronson Arroyo Reds RHP The starting pitchers are coming around (megasportsnews.com)

44 957 Bronson Arroyo Reds RHP Two-out hitting has been huge for Reds (megasportsnews.com)

44 958 Bronson Arroyo Reds RHP It’s only May but Reds in first place (megasportsnews.com)

44 959 Bronson Arroyo Reds RHP The buzz that the Reds are real (megasportsnews.com)

44 962 Jay Bruce Reds RF Talk’s about Bronson Arroyo’s performance (megasportsnews.com)

44 965 Jonny Gomes Reds LF 1st place is hard work to stay there (megasportsnews.com)

44 966 Jonny Gomes Reds LF Reds have winners from other teams who know how to win (megasportsnews.com)

GAME NOTES
* Scott Rolen’s home run in the first inning was his 290th of his career.

* Bronson Arroyo threw his first complete game of his career and 10th lifetime.

*Reds lead MLB in runners going from first to third with 30, Texas is 2nd with 24 and Minnesota and Oakland are tied for fourth with 23.

* The Reds lead MLB in last at bat wins with 9 and comeback wins 11.

* The Reds are 13-5 against NL Central Division rivals.

* The Reds are 4th in the NL with a .284 batting average with runners in scoring position.

*The Reds are 12-9 at Great American Ballpark.

* Reds birthdays coming up: Bullpen coach Juan Lopez was 50 on Sunday, RHP Nick Masset is 28 today, Monday and Catcher Ramon Hernandez will be 34 on Thursday.

* Three members of the Reds pitching staff are 24 and under. Mike Leake is 22, Homer Bailey is 24 and so is Johnny Cueto.

* Music Man, Bronson Arroyo has a CD on sale, Covering The Bases for $15.00 at all Great American Ballpark stores. Bronson is donating half the proceeds to the Reds Community Funds. In July 2005 the record debuted at number 1 on the charts in Boston, Providence and Springfield and number 2 in Portland, Maine. The CD features Mike Inez, bassist for Alice in Chains and Ozzy Osbourne, and vocals by Johnny Damon and author Stephen King.

* Albert Pujols was honored as with the Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Month Award Presented by Pepsi as voted on by fans for the month of April. Pujols batted .345 (30-87) with seven home runs and 19 RBI”s through 22 games.

*Albert Pujols passed Rogers Hornsby by moving into sole possession of 3rd place on the Cardinals all-time runs scored list at 1,090  last Wednesday night. Pujols is currently 7 RBI’s shy of tying Enos “country” Slaughter (1,148) for 2nd on the all-time St. Louis list and 7 walks shy of tying Enos Slaughter (839) for 3rd in all-time as a Cardinals.


Philadelphia Flyers rout Montreal Canadiens in Game 1, 6-0

compiled from staff and wire reports

The Philadelphia Flyers, known as the comeback kids didn’t have to rely on that aspect in the opening game of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Fresh off a memorable and stunning Game 7 win over the Boston Bruins that capped a rally from three games down, the Flyers scored early and often against Jaroslav Halak and the Montreal Canadiens rolled to a 6-0 rout at home.

Michael Leighton Philadelphia (nhl)

Michael Leighton was very strong in goal in a slow-starting first period for Philadelphia and finished  with 28 saves in his first NHL playoff shutout. James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere and Simon Gagne scored in a span of 9:23 in  the second to turn it into a rout.

Philadelphia has won five straight since being down 3-0 to Boston in the Eastern Semifinals.

Blackhawks win Game 1 over Sharks, 2-1

compiled from staff and wire reports

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi is starting prove to the NHL skeptics that he is of championship caliber.

Niemi made 44 saves, Dustin Byfuglien scored the tiebreaking goal with 6:45 remaining in regulation to help Chicago get off to a fast start for a change this postseason by beating the San Jose Sharks 2-1 Sunday in the opener of the Western Conference final.

Dustin Byfuglien (nhl)

Niemi looked so sharp in stopping all but one shot in his first career start against San Jose, helping the Blackhawks kill four of five power plays including a 6-on-4 advantage in the closing minute. The win snapped a run of four straight series-opening losses for Chicago.

Patrick Sharp also scored for the Blackhawks, who improved to 6-1 on the road this postseason.

Rookie Jason Demers scored San Jose’s only goal, who fell to 0-4 at home all-time in two trips to the conference final.

Celtics mean business; beat Magic in Orlando to go up 1-0

compiled from staff and wire reports

During the regular season, most NBA experts saw the Boston Celtics as an aging team of superstars. They’re ankles and knees couldn’t sustain the rigors of trying to win another championship.

All of that skepticism means nothing as Boston has beaten Miami and Cleveland and now are working on the Orlando Magic.

Doc Rivers Celtics coach (nba)

Ray Allen scored 25 points, Paul Pierce had 22 and the Celtics used smothering defense to beat the Orlando Magic, 92-88 on Sunday in the Eastern Conference finals opener.

Rasheed Wallace chipped in with 13 points as the Celtics built a 20-point lead, then held on late to snap the Magic’s 14-game winning streak. Defensively they held Orlando to 41 percent shooting and only 22 percent from 3-point land.

Westbrook starting to regain pitching form; beats Orioles 5-1

compiled from staff and wire reports

Jake Westbrook is starting to put aside worries about his elbow and arm and is now just thinking about wins, pitch counts, shutouts and complete games.

Westbrook on Sunday gave up nine hits and completed his 13th career complete game, and Cleveland beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-1 Sunday in Baltimore for their second straight series win.

Matt LaPorta Indians (clippers photo)

Westbrook (2-2) didn’t pitch at all in 2009 while recovering from reconstructive right elbow surgery. He was 0-2 in his first six starts in 2010 before beating Kansas City last Tuesday.

That complete game was his first since April 8, 2008 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Westbrook struck out eight, one short of his career high, and walked none.

Westbrook was helped throughout the game by some top-notch defensive plays including two double plays and a first-inning catch by All-Star centerfielder Grady Sizemore. Also Shin-Soo Choo trying to stretch a single into a double.

The Indians continue to show they have power as Matt LaPorta and Russell Branyan homered for Cleveland, who won the series 2-1. They previously won two of three from Kansas City and now has back-to-back series wins for the first time this season.

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