Moments after Jay Bruce caught a routine fly for the final out, the public address announcer in Cincinnati called everyone’s attention to the standings board behind the right-field seats, the one that was about to reflect a seismic shift in the NL Central.
Finally, the Cardinals had been knocked off their perch.
Scott Rolen homered and had three RBIs, and Bronson Arroyo pitched a complete game and drove in two runs yesterday, leading the surging Reds to a 7-2 victory that ended St. Louis’s long run as the division’s top team.
The Cardinals had been in first place since July 31. The defending champions opened a five-game lead before going into a pronounced downturn, losing nine of 12.
Now, for the first time since the middle of last season, they’re looking up.
The Reds moved into a half-game lead by winning seven of eight. In that span, Cincinnati’s staff has a 1.88 earned-run average.
Cincinnati hasn’t been in first place this deep into a season since June 8, 2006.
Rolen had a two-run homer and an RBI single off Brad Penny (3-4), who had never lost at Great American Ball Park in six starts.
Arroyo (3-2) pitched out of a bases-loaded, no-out threat in the fifth by giving up only one run. Jason LaRue later hit a solo homer, one of seven hits off Arroyo. The righthander pitched his first complete game of the season and added a bases-loaded single.
Rockies 2, Nationals 1 — Making his first appearance since Sept. 12, 2008, lefthander Jeff Francis worked seven sharp innings for host Colorado, which got both its runs on sacrifice flies.
Francis has struggled with arm injuries since winning 17 games in 2007. He missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, then started this season on the disabled list after straining the area around his left armpit in spring training. The only run he allowed came in the first on a sac fly, and he got out of a two-on, no-out jam in the seventh.
Dodgers 1, Padres 0 — Russell Martin had an RBI single in the sixth inning — one of only two hits by visiting Los Angeles — and Chad Billingsley (4-2) pitched into the eighth as the Dodgers swept the three-game series and ran their win streak to seven.
Giants 4, Astros 3 — Host San Francisco secured its second three-game sweep of Houston this season thanks to home runs from Andres Torres and Aaron Rowand, and seven efficient innings from Barry Zito (6-1).
Marlins 10, Mets 8 — Florida completed a four-game sweep of visiting New York by jumping out to a 7-0 lead, then holding off the scuffling Mets with a three-run, pinch-hit homer by Chris Coghlan in the seventh.
Phillies 4, Brewers 2 — Cole Hamels (4-2) had an RBI double in the second inning and pitched into the seventh as Philadelphia closed out a three-game sweep in Milwaukee.
Braves 13, Diamondbacks 1 — Host Atlanta moved out of the NL East basement as Martin Prado clubbed a pair of homers and Tim Hudson improved to 3-0 in May.
Cubs 4, Pirates 3 — Pinch hitter Xavier Nady singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth as host Chicago rallied for its first victory over Pittsburgh this season following five losses.
Rays 2, Mariners 1 — Sean Rodriguez delivered an RBI double in the seventh and Gabe Kapler added an eighth-inning sacrifice fly, rallying Tampa Bay past Seattle’s Cliff Lee (1-2) in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Blue Jays 5, Rangers 2 — Jose Bautista homered for the third time in two games and Toronto turned four double plays against visiting Texas to wrap up a three-game sweep.
Angels 4, Athletics 0 — Joel Pineiro (3-4) pitched a four-hit shutout, Bobby Abreu hit a two-run homer, and Los Angeles completed a three-game sweep at home.
Indians 5, Orioles 1 — Cleveland’s Jake Westbrook worked around nine hits for his 13th career complete game, losing his shutout in Baltimore on Luke Scott’s two-out homer in the ninth.
Royals 5, White Sox 3 — Brian Bannister (2-3) pitched six strong innings, Jose Guillen drove in three runs, and Kansas City won its first series at home this season.