St. Louis Albert Pujols handed the Cincinnati Reds a victory, evening their weekend NL Central showdown with the St. Louis Cardinals at a game apiece.
Pujols dropped a routine fly ball in left field in the seventh, allowing the Reds to score the go-ahead run in a 4-2 victory that cut the Cardinals' division lead to one game.
"You know, it happens," Pujols said. "It can happen to Albert Pujols and it can happen to the best. It was the wrong time to happen."
Todd Walker lofted a pop-up to medium left with two outs in the seventh, and the ball glanced off the glove of Pujols, who had been camped under it for several seconds. Pujols looked at his glove as if it had betrayed him before retrieving the ball as Jason LaRue scored from second for a 3-2 lead.
Pinch-hitter Barry Larkin's sacrifice fly off Mike Matthews had tied it, and Aaron Boone gave the Reds a two-run lead with an RBI single, also off Matthews. Luther Hackman (1-3) gave up a single to LaRue, the only batter he faced.
"It was a weird game," manager Tony La Russa said. "It's one of those games where there's not a whole lot to say. It could have turned out better, that's for sure."
Juan Encarnacion hit his second homer in as many games and 16th of the season for the Reds, who have won four of five after losing eight in a row. Encarnacion was 3-for-4 and is 16-for-34 (.471) the last 10 games.
Elmer Dessens (5-4) allowed two runs on six hits in six innings, winning for the first time in five starts since June 2. In three starts against the Cardinals, he's 1-0 with a 3.70 ERA. He said he threw more changeups and curveballs than in the past.