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Reds comeback leaves Cards crushed

ST. LOUIS -- Down six runs in the first inning and facing an All-Star pitcher in 93-degree heat, the Cincinnati Reds could easily have given up.

They did nothing of the sort, and put themselves in first place.

The Reds rallied against Matt Morris and closer Jason Isringhausen and beat St. Louis 12-8 Sunday, pulling into a tie for the NL Central lead with the Cardinals.

''When you go out and do that and beat up on their ace a little bit, that shows what kind of team we have,'' said Adam Dunn, the Reds' lone All-Star representative. ''Any other team might say 'OK, we've got Matt Morris on the hill, we're through,' but we didn't do that.''

The Reds chipped away with three runs in the second and two in the third. Then they roughed up Isringhausen in the ninth, with Reggie Taylor's two-run single tying the score and Todd Walker's two-run single putting the Reds ahead by two.

It was the biggest comeback of the season for the Reds, whose biggest collapse came when they blew an 8-0 first-inning lead in a 10-8 loss to the Cardinals in Cincinnati on May 12.

''There are a lot of reasons why this was such a big win for us,'' Walker said. ''That's one of them. For this win to happen the way it did, I think it gives us a little justice.''

Aaron Boone added a two-run homer in the ninth off Gene Stechschulte for the Reds, who took two of three in the Central showdown series. The Cardinals are 2-4 on a 13-game homestand that will take them to the All-Star break.

''We've got seven games to go,'' Albert Pujols said. ''We need to finish the first half strong.''

Pujols' two-run double kick-started a six-run first for the Cardinals, who also got two-run homers from Tino Martinez and Mike DiFelice. Reds starter Luis Pineda lasted only one-third of an inning.

''I saw a guy that had no command and I wasn't going to wait around,'' Reds manager Bob Boone said. ''It was too big of a game.''

The Reds trailed 8-6 entering the ninth before chasing Isringhausen (2-1), who blew his second save in his last three games. Taylor's two-run single with one out tied the score and Walker, 0-for-10 the first two games of the series, put the Reds ahead by two with his fourth hit.

Isringhausen has worked in five of the last six games, but rejected fatigue as an excuse.

''This is an easy one to forget,'' Isringhausen said. ''It was just a bad day of pitching, a bad day of location.''

Scott Sullivan (5-2) allowed one run and four hits in three innings, striking out five and walking one.

Morris was lethargic in the heat, giving up five runs on nine hits in five innings. Morris struck out six and walked two.

''He reached so deep, he was on fumes at the end,'' manager Tony La Russa said. ''He did what he had to do for us.''

It was 95 degrees after four innings when plate umpire Kerwin Danley collapsed. Danley was down for several minutes with cold towels wrapped around his head, and had to be assisted from the field by two Cardinals trainers. He felt fine after moving inside.

Notes:

The Reds were 5-2 on a seven-game trip. … Juan Encarnacion, who had six hits and a pair of homers the first two games of the series, was 1-for-4 with a walk. … The Reds have won five of their last six on the road. … Adam Dunn, who had been 9-for-18 entering the game, was robbed with a leaping catch at the wall by CF Jim Edmonds in the first and ended up 0-for-6 with three strikeouts. … Tino Martinez was 3-for-5, giving him five hits the last two games of the series. … The six-run first equaled a season best for the Cardinals, who also did it June 1 against the Pirates. The Associated Press