Archive for August, 2013
NEW YORK (AP) — They were Hall of Famers like Tony Dorsett, Super Bowl MVPs like Mark Rypien, and longtime backups like Don Strock.
In all, more than 4,500 retired players began suing the NFL two years ago, saying the league concealed what it knew about the long-term dangers of concussions and did not properly care for the head injuries that were long an accepted part of the game.
Under a tentative settlement announced Thursday, the NFL agreed to shell out more than three-quarters of a billion dollars, nearly all going to any former players — not just those who went to court — with dementia or other concussion-related health problems, even if the cause was not the very on-field violence that fueled professional football’s rise in popularity and profit.
The deal stipulates that it is not to be considered an admission of liability by the NFL.
“It’s a good day, because we’re getting help for those who need help,” Rypien told The Associated Press, “and a sad day, because we didn’t get this done earlier to help guys in the past.”
Rypien had two diagnosed concussions during 11 seasons as a quarterback in the NFL, including a championship with the Washington Redskins in 1992.
“I’m relieved; I don’t know about pleased. There are probably too many details to work through that we don’t all understand yet, quite frankly,” said Rypien, who has dealt with depression and difficulty remembering conversations. “But I’m relieved that both sides came together to protect the game we all love and help the players of the past and tomorrow. And to especially help those who need help right now, who have cognitive issues and those whose quality of life has been taken away.”
The settlement, unprecedented in sports, came after more than a year of discussions between the sides and two months of court-ordered mediation. Subject to approval by a federal judge, it came exactly a week before the first game of the 2013 season, removing a major legal and financial threat hanging over the sport.
U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody in Philadelphia is expected to rule on the settlement in two to three months but said it “holds the prospect of avoiding lengthy, expensive and uncertain litigation, and of enhancing the game of football.”
The settlement applies to all past NFL players and spouses of those who are deceased, a group that could total more than 20,000, and will cost the league $765 million — the vast majority of which would go to compensate retirees with certain neurological ailments — plus plaintiffs’ attorney fees, which could top $100 million. It sets aside $75 million for medical exams and $10 million for medical research.
Individual payouts would be capped at $5 million for men with Alzheimer’s disease; $4 million for those diagnosed after their deaths with a brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy; and $3 million for players with dementia, said lead plaintiffs’ lawyer Christopher Seeger.
“We got what we wanted, let’s put it that way,” Seeger said.
The NFL takes in revenues of more than $9 billion a year, a figure that will rise when new TV contracts start in 2014.
Commissioner Roger Goodell did not comment on the settlement.
“We thought it was critical to get more help to players and families who deserve it rather than spend many years and millions of dollars on litigation,” NFL Executive Vice President Jeffrey Pash Executive Vice President Jeffrey Pash said in a statement, the only comment issued by the league Thursday. “This is an important step that builds on the significant changes we’ve made in recent years to make the game safer.”
At a congressional hearing in October 2009, lawmakers grilled Goodell about the NFL’s concussion policies and the connection between injuries on the playing field and later brain diseases; soon afterward, the league made several changes, including revamping its return-to-play guidelines and changing the co-chairmen of its committee on concussions.
Since then, the NFL changed rules in a bid to reduce hits to the head and neck, protect defenseless players, and have neurologists clear players before they can return to games or practice after concussion.
One key rule switch that takes effect this season bars ball carriers from using the crown of the helmet to make contact with defenders.
“Football has been my life, and football has been kind to me,” said former Dallas Cowboys running back Dorsett, one of at least 10 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame who filed suit since 2011. “But when I signed up for this, I didn’t know some of the repercussions. I did know I could get injured, but I didn’t know about my head or the trauma or the things that could happen to me later on in life.”
In addition to Dorsett, some higher-profile plaintiffs include Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon, who suffers from dementia; former running back Kevin Turner, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease; and the family of All-Pro selection Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year.
Turner, who played for the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, predicted that most of his peers would support the settlement.
“Chances are … I won’t make it to 50 or 60,” said Turner, now 44. “I have money now to put back for my children to go to college and for a little something to be there financially.”
All former NFL players are eligible to seek care, screening or compensation, whether they suffered a documented concussion or not. The amounts they receive will be based on their age, condition and years of play. They do not need to prove that their health problems are connected to playing football.
Players’ lawyers said they expect the fund to cover the ex-athletes’ expenses up to age 65. Current players are not covered and, therefore, theoretically could bring their own lawsuits at some point.
“All of those ‘experts’ said this would be a 10-year process, but I personally believe both sides did whatever they had to, to help retired players — and at the same time, to not change the game of football as we know it,” said Craig Mitnick, one of the players’ lawyers.
If the settlement holds, the NFL won’t have to disclose internal files that might reveal what it knew, and when, about concussion-linked brain problems.
“I think it’s more important that the players have finality, that they’re vindicated, and that as soon as the court approves the settlement they can begin to get screening, and those that are injured can get their compensation. I think that’s more important than looking at some documents,” said lawyer Sol Weiss of Philadelphia, who filed the first lawsuit on behalf of former Atlanta Falcon Ray Easterling and a few others. Easterling later committed suicide.
Helmet maker Riddell, which was also sued, was not a party to the settlement. The company declined comment.
Eugene “Mercury” Morris, a running back who played in the NFL from 1969-76, mostly with the Miami Dolphins, wishes the case had gone to trial.
Referring to the league, he said: “These are the same people who tried to render the concept that concussions were never a problem and concussions didn’t occur in the NFL. My reaction to it is when they settle with you, it’s because they have no other choice. … I still don’t trust them.”
Sports law experts had thought the lawsuits might cost the league $1 billion or more if they went to trial. The NFL had pushed for the claims to be heard in arbitration under terms of the players’ labor contract.
The league had also argued that individual teams bear the chief responsibility for health and safety under the collective bargaining agreement, along with the players’ union and the players themselves.
In recent years, a string of former NFL players and other athletes who suffered concussions have been diagnosed after their deaths with CTE, including both Seau and Easterling.
While some of those who sued suffered brain ailments, others were worried about future problems and wanted their health monitored.
“I had major concussions myself. Am I on that slippery slope? I don’t know that,” said Strock, a quarterback in the 1970s and 1980s, mostly as a backup to Dan Marino with the Miami Dolphins. “Will this help protect me in the years to come? Yes. That’s what it’s for — something there in case you need it down the road. Right now, I don’t need it, knock on wood.”
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
Associated Press Writer Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia, AP National Writer Nancy Armour in Chicago, and AP Sports Writer Steven Wine in Miami contributed to this report.
(Minneapolis) (AP) – Bruce Chen bounced back with a solid start and the Kansas City Royals completed a sweep for their fifth straight win, beating Minnesota 3-1 Thursday and handing the Twins their fifth loss in a row.
The Royals outscored Minnesota 17-3 in sweeping the three-game series. They finished the season with a 15-4 record against their AL Central rival.
Chen (6-2) gave up one run and five hits in 5 2-3 innings. In his past two starts, he allowed 13 runs in nine innings.
Kelvin Herrera and Will Smith combined for 2 1-3 innings of scoreless relief. Greg Holland pitched a scoreless ninth for his 36th save in 38 chances.
Twins hitters batted just batted 15 for 91 (.165) in the series. Brian Dozier homered for Minnesota, which has totaled just six runs during its losing skid.
Alcides Escobar, Chris Getz and Alex Gordon hit RBI singles for the Royals.
Samuel Deduno (8-8) allowed three runs in three innings before leaving because of soreness in his right shoulder.
Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire did not see most of the game after being ejected in the second inning.
Justin Maxwell was hit by a pitch – the ninth batter plunked this season by Deduno – and both benches were warned by home plate umpire Alan Porter. Gardenhire came out to protest and was tossed for the fourth time this year.
Maxwell was hit by a pitch in Wednesday night. Salvador Perez homered twice in that game for the Royals and had a fastball come in high and tight.
Deduno, who had been bothered by biceps tendinitis in his throwing arm earlier this month but told the team he was feeling fine, struck out two in the first inning.
Escobar, Getz and Gordon singled home runs in the second.
Dozier homered in the sixth to make it 3-1. His 14th homer tied him with Tim Teufel (1984) for most homers in a season by a Minnesota second baseman.
Already playing short-handed because outfielder Oswaldo Arcia was unavailable with a sore wrist, Minnesota lost right fielder Wilkin Ramirez in the fifth inning after he fouled a ball off his left shin. He is listed as day-to-day.
(Fayetteville) (AP) – The University of Arkansas women’s golf team has been selected No. 8 in the Golf World/Women’s Golf Coaches Association Coaches poll.
Wednesday’s preseason ranking comes on the heels of Arkansas’ No. 10 selection by Golfweek.com.
Senior All-American and All-Southeastern Conference selection Emily Tubert and senior Emma Lavy have helped Arkansas to three consecutive NCAA Championship appearances – including a program-best tie for fifth place in 2011.
Tubert returns as the team’s leading scorer, averaging 73.41 last year with two individual titles as a junior.
Defending national champion Southern California was selected in the top spot, followed by Alabama.
Six SEC teams were selected in the Top 25 – tying the Pac-12 -and six other league members received votes in the preseason poll.
MC22 will televise eight Missouri State home events in four sports this fall
SPRINGFIELD — Thursday night’s season opener for the Missouri State football Bears will kick off a full slate of MSU fall events that will air live on Mediacom in the Springfield market.
Mediacom Connections, channel 22, will produce and air three home football games, three volleyball games and one game apiece for men’s soccer and women’s soccer.
We know our customers tune-in to MC22 because they love the great competition of the MSU Bears, especially the fall sports for men’s and women’s teams, said Phyllis Peters, communications director for Mediacom. “Mediacom supports our hometown university, and we’re proud to provide this TV coverage that fans won’t find anywhere else.”
In addition to the Aug. 29 football game against Northwestern State (6 p.m.), Mediacom will televise football games from Plaster Sports Complex on Sept. 28 against Illinois State (1 p.m.) and the Oct. 19 homecoming matchup against South Dakota State (1 p.m.). As part of the Missouri Valley Football Conference television network, Mediacom will also carry the Bears’ season finale against Northern Iowa on Nov. 16 (1 p.m.).
Volleyball games on this year’s package are the Sept. 22 match against Kansas State (1 p.m.) from Hammons Student Center, as well as home matches on Oct. 5 against Southern Illinois (7 p.m.) and Oct. 29 against Southeast Missouri State (6 p.m.).
The women’s match against UMKC on Sept. 17 (7 p.m.) kicks off a two-game soccer slate that also includes a men’s game against Oral Roberts on Oct. 15 (7 p.m.).
Mediacom is also scheduled to televise the annual “Dual in the Pool” swimming meet between MSU and Drury on Jan. 23, in addition to a number of baseball and softball games in the spring.
Founded in 1995, Mediacom has nearly 1.5 million subscribers in 22 states, including numerous communities throughout Missouri. For more than 30 years, Mediacom and its predecessor Telecable have televised hundreds of Missouri State University athletics events in the Springfield market.
Assistant Director of Athletics
Director of Athletics Communications
Missouri State University
Office – (417) 836-5402
Direct – (417) 836-4585
Cell – (417) 849-5865
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips shouted obscenities Wednesday night at a newspaper reporter who commented on the star’s sagging on-base percentage.
Phillips directed a short tirade at C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer before the game at Busch Stadium.
Phillips let loose at Rosecrans in the clubhouse, then interrupted manager Dusty Baker’s pregame media session to make a few more comments that included multiple “f” bombs.
The Gold Glove winner stuck his head into the doorway of Baker’s office and singled out Rosecrans, saying, “I’ve found out your Twitter name now, dude.”
Phillips sarcastically encouraged Baker to “Make them happy, Dusty” and threw in some expletives for the reporter who’s “worried about my on-base percentage.”
“That ain’t my deal,” Baker said, adding the dispute was between Phillips and Rosecrans.
The episode didn’t escalate.
Asked about the incident, Rosecrans said: “It’s not the first time it’s happened in the clubhouse and it’s not the last. Brandon had his say and I don’t care. It won’t change how I cover the team, or Brandon.”
Phillips has a .310 on-base percentage for the slumping playoff contenders. He has 95 RBIs and has batted fourth for most of the season, hitting .355 with runners in scoring position.
After the third-place Reds lost 6-1 Tuesday night and fell 4½ games behind the NL Central-leading Cardinals, Phillips tweeted that “it was time to talk to POPS about changing my role! NEED NEW RESULTS ASAP! #ALREADY.”
Baker said he didn’t mind the tweeting, and Phillips was moved to the second spot for the first time since opening day.
Rosecrans later tweeted that Phillips should perhaps hit somewhere else in the order other than second.
Phillips got off to a fast start in his new slot. He singled and scored in a six-run first inning and singled and scored in a three-run second as the Reds took a 9-0 lead.
After the game, Phillips told reporters: “You’re talking to the wrong guy. I don’t know what happened today.”
Asked about hitting in the No. 2 spot again, he smiled, spreading his chest to show off his black dress shirt and black tie, and said, “How do I look?”
Phillips long has been a target of boo-birds in St. Louis after a 2010 dust-up with Yadier Molina that followed Phillips’ highly-publicized remarks about the Cardinals being “whiny little (bleeps).”
ST. LOUIS — A five-win homestand that propelled the Cardinals into the National League Central’s top spot concluded with a thud on a night that Adam Wainwrightwould rather soon forget.
The anticipation of a potential series sweep over division-rival Cincinnati enjoyed minimal shelf life. Buried by a six-run first, Wainwright turned in the worst start of his career. The quick start allowed the Reds to coast to a 10-0 win in a game that turned chaotic enough for manager Mike Matheny to end it with his best defensive infielder playing the outfield.
Indeed, it was all about the unprecedented on Wednesday.
“You just have to throw it away,” Wainwright said. “You’d like to say there’s something to learn in every game. Today is just something I’m going to forget about and go back to pitching.”
A crowd of 35,698 showed up at Busch Stadium to see what Wainwright had as an encore to his complete-game effort last Friday. Those who stayed for the game’s entirety ended up witnessing the team’s worst loss of the season.
The Reds pulled back within 3 1/2 games of the Cards in the NL Central, while the Pirates crept to within a half-game as they defeated Milwaukee. Pittsburgh plays the Brewers again on Thursday before the Cardinals’ Friday arrival.
The Reds sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning, plating six runs on as many hits. The bases were loaded by the time cleanup hitter Jay Bruce stepped up, and the right fielder initiated the scoring with a two-run single. Ryan Ludwick’s double pushed home another, as did Todd Frazier’s groundout.
Allen Craig’s inability to get an out on a grounder to him at first extended the inning so that opposing starter, Homer Bailey, could take his turn at the plate, too. Bailey delivered an RBI single, which ensured that by the time Cincinnati had batted around, it had more runs off Wainwright than the Cardinals’ ace had given up in any of his previous 27 starts.
“It’s a strange game,” said Reds manager Dusty Baker. “You don’t hit one of the rookies [Joe Kellyon Tuesday]. Then today we hit one of the best pitchers in the game out there. There is no explanation for it. Our guys came out ready to hit. The main difference is we got some hits with runners in scoring position. We didn’t leave any out there.”
Wainwright never could regroup, either. Bruce’s three-run blast stung him in the second and drove Matheny to pull his starter at the end of the frame. The Reds’ aggressive approach — six of the 16 batters Wainwright faced swung at his first pitch — had given him fits.
“I think that was their approach coming out, and that’s why we started throwing the cutter and the curveball pretty much right away,” said Rob Johnson, who caught Wainwright for the first time. “He started getting the feel of that toward the second inning, but at that point, it was where it was already.”
Wainwright’s final stat line was littered with career-worst numbers, including most earned runs allowed (nine) and fewest innings pitched (two) in any of his 179 career starts. Never before had he been battered for six runs in the first inning.
He refused to use any outside factor as an excuse, either. Not the lack of familiarity with Johnson. Not the 128 pitches he threw in his last start. Not anything that went awry in his pregame warmup. In fact, Wainwright said he got loose in the bullpen quicker than usual before taking the mound.
“All you can say is they came out ready to play,” Wainwright said. “I was focused, had a good plan, just didn’t execute some pitches. The pitches I did execute, they found a hole. It was just a really bad night, a perfect storm.”
“Tough night,” added Matheny. “Everybody has them. Just get ready for the next one, that’s all.”
Wainwright’s quick dismissal prompted Michael Wacha’s early entrance, and Wacha’s work in relief provided the highlight. Wacha tossed four scoreless innings on 65 pitches, throwing 45 of those for strikes. The seven strikeouts he notched established a career high for the rookie right-hander.
It was Wacha’s sixth relief appearance and by far the longest.
“I was just trying to attack the hitters with a different mix,” Wacha said. “[I was] just trying to get [a] first strike over and get in pitcher’s counts, and it ended up working out pretty well for me.”
Wacha’s ability to carry the game into the seventh prevented Matheny from having to dig too deep into his ‘pen. The implications of the extended outing, though, could reach further than the Cardinals would like. With Wacha expected to need at least a few days to recover, he will not be available when the club opens a key series in Pittsburgh on Friday.
Facing a seemingly insurmountable deficit, the Cardinals’ offense made little noise against Bailey. The club had just three singles through five innings, at which point Matheny pulled four of his starting position players. Among those to sub in was Pete Kozma, who made his first Major League appearance in left field.
The change of positions couldn’t help change his offensive fortunes, though. With an 0-for-2 night, Kozma now has just three hits in his last 50 at-bats.
The Cardinals, who didn’t advance a runner to third until the ninth, finished hitless in five chances with runners in scoring position. Cincinnati, meanwhile, went 5-for-10 in those spots.
“I don’t think we thought about how many games back we were, but we knew that we needed to win this game,” Bailey said. “We can’t come in here and get swept. Then you’re really far back.”
Week 4 in the NFL’s preseason schedule means the regular season is right around the corner.
Many teams won’t risk playing starters much—if at all—this week, to guard against freak injuries to key players. Instead, devoted fans will see a heavy dose of players on the roster bubble, as every team will be making significant cuts before the regular season begins.
The first cuts are set for Tuesday, Aug. 27, as teams have until 4 p.m. ET to trim their rosters from 90 to 75 active players. Some teams got an early jump on these cuts, and the big ones are yet to come.
The next cuts are set for Saturday, Aug. 31—just two days after the final preseason games. Teams have until 6 p.m. ET to cut the remaining 22 players down to the 53-man regular-season roster.
Needless to say, there will be some significant battles playing out on all 32 rosters.
Unheralded free agents, former first-round picks, undrafted free agents and players of all shapes and sizes will be fighting for their NFL careers.
As a result, the games played this week will likely turn into sloppily played affairs, and many casual fans are bound to turn off their television sets in favor of some other activity. But for die-hard football enthusiasts, Week 4 of the NFL’s preseason is a chance to witness football at its most primal level.
Will versus will, force versus force and skill versus skill. Some players will rise to the occasion and earn a coveted roster spot while others will wither away and perhaps never be heard from again at the professional level.
With the regular season beginning on Sept. 5, all 16 games this week will be held on Thursday, and only two of them will be televised nationally.
Here’s a look at the entire schedule this week, along with a prediction for each game. A few games will be highlighted for additional analysis below.
|THU, AUG 29||TIME (ET)||TV||LOCATION||PREDICTED WINNER|
|Detroit at Buffalo||7 p.m.||Ralph Wilson Stadium||Lions|
|Philadelphia at N.Y. Jets||7 p.m.||MetLife Stadium||Eagles|
|Indianapolis at Cincinnati||7 p.m.||Paul Brown Stadium||Bengals|
|New Orleans at Miami||7:30 p.m.||Sun Life Stadium||Dolphins|
|Jacksonville at Atlanta||7:30 p.m.||Georgia Dome||Falcons|
|Pittsburgh at Carolina||7:30 p.m.||Bank of America Stadium||Steelers|
|Washington at Tampa Bay||7:30 p.m.||Raymond James Stadium||Redskins|
|N.Y. Giants at New England||7:30 p.m.||NFL Network||Gillette Stadium||Giants|
|Tennessee at Minnesota||8 p.m.||Mall of America Field||Titans|
|Green Bay at Kansas City||8 p.m.||Arrowhead Stadium||Chiefs|
|Houston at Dallas||8 p.m.||AT&T Stadium||Texans|
|Cleveland at Chicago||8 p.m.||Soldier Field||Bears|
|Baltimore at St. Louis||8 p.m.||Edward Jones Dome||Rams|
|Arizona at Denver||9 p.m.||Sports Authority Field||Broncos|
|San Francisco at San Diego||10 p.m.||NFL Network||Qualcomm Stadium||49ers|
|Oakland at Seattle||10 p.m.||CenturyLink Field||Seahawks|
The media has released the first statewide football poll for the 2013 season.
Locally, MV-BT Liberty is ranked 2nd in Class 2, behind Lamar. Mountain Grove is ranked 5th.
Rank, team 2012 Pts.
1. Blue Springs (15) 13-1 150
2. CBC 11-1 132
3. Rockhurst 9-3 115
4. Rock Bridge 9-3 101
5. De Smet 9-4 99
6. Francis Howell 12-2 78
7. Hazelwood Central 8-3 46
8. Raymore-Peculiar 7-4 43
9. Lafayette 12-1 21
10. Jefferson City 7-4 20
Also receiving votes: Liberty (6-5) 12, Blue Springs South (5-5) 7, Hickman (9-2) 1
Rank, team 2012 Pts.
1. Lee’s Summit West (15) 11-1 150
T2. Fort Osage 12-2 123
T2. Parkway Central 11-2 123
4. Kirkwood 13-1 98
5. Webster Groves 9-3 87
6. Staley 9-3 77
7. Camdenton 8-4 61
8. Winnetonka 7-4 35
9. Ozark 11-2 32
10. Vianney 5-6 15
Also receiving votes: Lebanon (9-2) 9, Park Hill South (7-5) 6, Kearney (6-4) 4, Nixa (7-4) 3, Jackson (7-3) 1, Kickapoo (6-5) 1
Rank, team 2012 Pts.
1. Webb City (15) 15-0 150
2. Helias 10-5 134
3. Harrisonville 11-3 119
4. Bolivar 9-3 95
5. Raytown South 6-5 78
6. Westminster 8-3 63
7. Liberty North 6-5 59
8. Hillcrest 10-2 48
9. Hannibal 10-2 33
10. Sullivan 12-1 22
Also receiving votes: St. Charles West (7-4) 5, Carthage (8-3) 4, Moberly (7-3) 4, Priory (8-3) 3, Smithville (8-4) 2, Cape Central (5-7) 1
Rank, team 2012 Pts.
1. Maryville (15) 15-0 150
2. John Burroughs 13-1 133
3. California 13-1 116
4. Oak Grove 11-1 105
5. Duchesne 8-5 87
6. Cassville 11-1 80
7. Reeds Spring 7-4 43
8. Center 10-3 39
9. Centralia 10-2 24
10. O’Fallon Christian 9-2 18
Also receiving votes: Osage (7-5) 16, Monett (10-4) 6, Eldon (8-5) 5, Hogan Prep (10-1) 3
Rank, team 2012 Pts.
1. Lamar (15) 12-3 150
2. MV-Liberty 10-3 134
3. Caruthersville 10-3 116
4. Lutheran North 4-7 92
5. Mountain Grove 11-1 84
6. South Callaway 10-2 74
7. Herculaneum 7-3 55
8. Strafford 10-1 52
9. Blair Oaks 13-2 27
10. Brookfield 7-4 17
Also receiving votes: Lafayette County (11-1) 16, Holden (11-3) 4, Palmyra (7-5) 3, Lathrop (11-2) 1
Rank, team 2012 Pts.
1. Hamilton (9) 15-0 144
2. Valle Catholic (6) 12-3 141
3. Westran 10-2 112
4. Tipton 13-1 101
5. Thayer 6-5 88
6. Cass-Midway 9-3 73
7. Polo 8-4 65
8. South Harrison 9-2 32
9. Salisbury 12-2 25
10. Marceline 7-4 15
Also receiving votes: Osceola (5-5) 13, Milan (10-1) 10, Miller (12-1) 4, Skyline (10-3) 1, South Shelby (8-5) 1
ST. LOUIS – Joe Kelly’s placement in the rotation eight weeks ago was dictated as much by need as it was desire. Yet, his ability to stay continues to be entirely merit-based.
The Cardinals continue to win when Kelly is on the mound, with Tuesday’s 6-1 victory over the Reds the latest in Kelly’s growing list of quality starts. The victory, which came in front of 35,201 fans at Busch Stadium, improves the Cardinals to 10-4 against the Reds and sets them up for a shot at a series sweep against a team they are trying to bury in the standings.
The night ended with the Cardinals enjoying a 4 1/2-game advantage over the Reds in the National League Central. Pittsburgh, mired in a three-game losing streak, sits 1 1/2 games behind.
“This is the team that I’ve seen for the bulk of this season,” manager Mike Matheny said of his club, which has won 12 of its last 16. “This is the team that I believe these guys expect us to be every time we walk out of the dugout.”
The Cardinals ambushed Mat Latos for two first-inning runs just 12 pitches into his start. That lead was fragile for much of Kelly’s night, but the right-hander found a way to get through six innings despite constant traffic around him. The Reds provided an assist, too, when they ran themselves out of a run-scoring spot in the fourth.
“We’ve just got to play better baseball,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “I’m really getting kind of tired of answering these questions every day for everything that happens and everybody. Sometimes a guy has to be held accountable for their actions. They’re all big boys. They’re all getting paid here. [The Cardinals] are beating us pretty good. We’ve got to change that.”
The Reds swarmed the basepaths from the get-go. Kelly ended the first and second innings with runners on the corners. In the third, he needed a double play to erase a leadoff single.
Kelly faced another jam in the fourth, with two on, two out and Latos up. Latos laced a single — his second of the game — and Jay Bruce rounded third as if headed for home. Third-base coach Mark Berry chose instead to stop him, which proved costly when the trailing runner, Zack Cozart, didn’t see Berry’s hands go up.
Cozart continued for third, leaving Kelly to jog over and tag him as he and Bruce stood on the same base. The Reds, aside from Shin-Soo Choo’s solo homer, would not advance another runner to third all night.
“That was a big part of the game,” Cozart said. “I looked around and I saw [Berry] waving Jay home, so I started running to third. My focus went to seeing if he was going to cut the ball to [first baseman Allen] Craig. When I got to third, I was surprised Jay was even there.”
Kelly went on to strand two more runners in the fifth, after allowing the homer. His last inning was his cleanest. Despite allowing a season-high eight hits, Kelly limited the Reds to one run.
“They are really good hitters,” Kelly said. “Some guys with power, some guys with good averages, some All-Stars in there. You just try to go out there and make your pitch and have confidence in your pitch that you’re going to make an out with it.”
Kelly’s ERA since sliding into the rotation is down to 2.24, and the Cardinals have won eight of his nine starts during that stretch. In six of those games, Kelly has exited having allowed one or fewer runs.
“He just keeps making good starts for us,” said Matheny. “He’s doing a great job.”
A night after home runs accounted for seven Cardinals runs, the offense sank the Reds largely with a slew of singles. Of the team’s 11 hits, only one — Craig’s RBI double in the sixth — went for extra bases.
St. Louis opened the night with three straight singles. A slip and a bobble by two Cincinnati outfielders twice allowed the Cardinals to take an extra base, too. Matt Holliday drove home Matt Carpenter, helping him become the seventh player in franchise history to score 100 runs in a season.
For Holliday, it was his seventh straight game with an RBI. But the rest of his night would not be so enjoyable. Holliday fouled a pitch off his left foot, another off his left shin and was then hit on the arm by a 95-mph fastball. With the Cardinals comfortably ahead by the time of the eighth-inning plunking, Matheny pulled Holliday from the game.
“I’m pretty sore,” Holliday said afterward.
After Craig’s sixth-inning double pushed the lead back to two, the Cardinals used two singles and a Carpenter sacrifice fly to tack on a run in the seventh. Two more singles helped score two more in the eighth.
“Right now, every game is valuable for us,” Beltran said. “We have to go out there and we have to take advantage of the situations the game [presents], so we have to be smart. I think we’re doing that.”
Before the Cardinals established enough of a lead to send closer Edward Mujica back to his bullpen seat, reliever Kevin Siegrist navigated through a tough part of the Reds’ order to preserve a two-run advantage. Beginning with Choo and ending with Joey Votto, Siegrist struck out the side in the seventh.
Siegrist, who has an ERA of 0.64, has not been scored upon in 13 August appearances. His three strikeouts on Tuesday pushed that total to 40 in 28 innings.
“I’m happy with them,” Siegrist said of his rookie-season numbers. “And I’m happy I can help out this team.”
Trevor Rosenthal and Seth Maness followed with clean innings, as well.
“Lights out,” Kelly said of the bullpen. “Look at those guys’ numbers. They’re pretty dang good back there.”
The same could be said of Kelly since he left that group behind.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It’s Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.