Cardinals show a lot of #039;Hart#039; to beat Reds

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 26, 2003

ST. LOUIS - Bo Hart's teammates are enjoying his amazing debut just as much as he is.

The 26-year-old rookie had a leadoff home run and went 3-for-5, raising his average to .500 in six games, to help St. Louis beat Cincinnati 9-6 on Wednesday night.

He has a four-hit game, two three-hit games and a pair of two-hit games since being called up to replace injured second basemen Fernando Vina and Miguel Cairo.

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''Everybody laughs and cheers, he hits the home run and he does the curtain calls,'' closer Jason Isringhausen said. ''We're having a lot of fun with it and he should be, too.

''It's something he should cherish forever.''

Hart, a 33rd-round draft pick in 1999 who spent all of last season at the Double-A level, is 15-for-30 with two doubles, two triples and four RBIs.

''It's great to be where I am right now, and I wouldn't trade it for the world,'' Hart said. ''I'm relishing every moment. It's been a great six games.''

Hart, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen homered in the first as the Cardinals answered Ken Griffey's three-run homer in the top of the inning. Albert Pujols had a two-run double in a four-run second as the Cardinals connected early against Paul Wilson (5-5) and provided breathing room for struggling ace Matt Morris.

The Cardinals were 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position after going 2-for-15 in a 7-4, 14-inning loss Tuesday. Pujols was 2-for-5, raising his average to a major league-leading .387.

Morris (8-5) won for the first time in four starts although he gave up five runs in six innings. He's surrendered 28 runs in his last 31 innings over six outings since throwing consecutive shutouts in mid-May.

''I've got to get back into the mental game, start making better 0-2 pitches and stop giving up two-out hits,'' Morris said. ''I've got to pick it up a notch.''

But Morris was strongest at the finish, retiring the last seven batters. And he started the four-run second with a two-out single.

''The last two innings he got some quick outs, so that was outstanding,'' manager Tony La Russa said. ''He started the rally that won the game for us, and did everything.''

Wilson started a few hours after drawing a five-game suspension for his actions in a brawl against the Cubs last week, a penalty that is set to begin Thursday. He said he likely would appeal the suspension.

Wilson, who had won his three previous starts, gave up seven runs in six innings.

''I got the ball up the first two innings and I can't do that,'' Wilson said. ''I don't have the kind of stuff to live up there.''

Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 476th career homer, passing Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 21st place. It was Griffey's eighth homer of the year and first in 92 at-bats.

Sean Casey was 3-for-5 for the Reds, making him 12-for-22 in the last five games. Casey batted leadoff for only the second time all season.

Cal Eldred retired four in a row to get to the ninth, striking out two. Eduardo Perez' two-run single in the eighth gave the Cardinals a three-run cushion and Jason Isringhausen finished for his second save in two chances, striking out two more.

Notes: The Cardinals beat the Reds for only the second time in nine games this season. … Reds pinch-hitter Jose Guillen was ejected in the ninth for arguing a called third strike. … Hart is the sixth player in Cardinals history to hit a leadoff homer for his first career homer, and the first since Curt Ford in 1986. … The Reds placed left-handed relief pitcher Gabe White on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday and recalled right-hander Brian Reith to replace him.

White went on the disabled list, retroactive to Saturday, with a strained left groin. He was 3-0 with a 3.93 earned run average in 34 relief appearances for Cincinnati.

Reith went 3-1 with a 1.96 ERA and one save in 16 relief appearances for Triple-A Louisville. He pitched for the Reds this season from April 25 to May 27, appearing in 12 games with a 1-0 record and 3.86 ERA.