PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) -- Adam Scott began the final major of the year with a tee shot deep into the trees. He ended the opening round of the PGA Championship by having to gouge out of deep rough. It was the golf in between that was some of the best he has ever played, even for an Australian with a green jacket.
Showing that he's not satisfied as only being a Masters champion, Scott ran off five straight birdies early in his round Thursday on soft and vulnerable Oak Hill, and a 15-foot par putt at the end gave him a 5-under 65 and a share of the lead with Jim Furyk.
"Probably the best run I've ever had," Scott said of his five straight birdies. "I just hit really nice shots and didn't leave myself too much work. You have to take advantage of that if you're feeling that. It was a dream start after kind of a nervous first couple of holes."
It felt like an easy start to so many others.
Oak Hill has such a strong reputation that it has yielded only 10 scores under par over 72 holes in five previous major championships. The last time the PGA Championship was held on this Donald Ross design in 2003, there were only 12 rounds under par on the first day.
But with overnight rain, humid conditions and a 71-minute delay for storms in the afternoon, Thursday might be as easy as it gets. Scott and Furyk had plenty of company, two of 35 players who broke par.
Tiger Woods was not among them.
The world's No. 1 player made only two birdies despite playing in the still of the morning, and he watched his round fall apart with a bogey on par-5 fourth and a double bogey on his final hole when his flop shot out of a deep rough floated into a bunker. Woods had a 71, not a bad start at Oak Hill, except on this day.
"The round realistically could have been under par easily," Woods said.
Furyk, who won his lone major at the U.S. Open in 2003 at Olympia Fields, has gone nearly three years since his last win at the Tour Championship to capture the FedEx Cup and win PGA Tour player of the year. Still fresh are the four close calls from a year ago, including the U.S. Open.
He was as steady as Scott, rarely putting himself in trouble until the end of the round. Furyk missed the fairway to the right and had to pitch out because of thick rough and trees blocking his way to the green. That led to his only bogey, but still his lowest first-round score in 19 appearances at the PGA Championship.
"Usually disappointed with ending the day on a bogey," Furyk said. "But you know, 65, PGA, is not so bad."
David Hearn of Canada, an alternate until a week ago, had a 66 in the morning. Also at 66 was Lee Westwood, who had his best score ever in the PGA and offered evidence that there was no hangover from losing a 54-hole lead in the British Open last month.
There were no record scores at Oak Hill despite the soft conditions, just a lot of low rounds.
"If you don't hit it in the fairways, then you won't score well," Westwood said. "These guys are good. There are a lot of good players playing in the tournament. Somebody is going to hit it straight, and somebody is going to shoot a good score."
Scott certainly didn't start out that way. He had to pitch out from the trees on No. 1, but managed to get up-and-down from about 85 yards in front of the green, and after two more pars, he began his big run of birdies.
"Just got on a bit of a roll and hit a few shots close," Scott said. "I didn't have too much putting to do. You've got to take advantage when it happens, because it doesn't happen too much in the majors. Nothing to complain about in 65."
He felt similar to the opening round at Royal Lytham & St. Annes last year in the British Open, when he flirted with a 63 and had to settle for a course record-tying 64. Scott was on pace to tie the Oak Hill record for majors when he birdied the 14th, but he three-putted two holes later for bogey and was pleased to walk away with par on the 18th.
"I felt good out there today," he said. "I felt like I could swing freely and I was hitting all the shots that I wanted to hit. When you get something going for you in a major, sometimes you have got to be not afraid to get out of your own way and let go. I did that at Lytham, and I did that here for 10 or 11 holes."
Just last month at Muirfield, the 31-year-old Australian had the outright lead on the back nine in the British Open until he made four straight bogeys and couldn't keep up with Phil Mickelson and his great finish. Even so, it was evident that Scott was serious about adding more majors to that green jacket he won at Augusta National in April.
"I put a lot into my game the last two years with a focus on the big tournaments," Scott said. "Everyone around me has had the same focus, as well. We come here to do business."
Even Rory McIlroy got in on the act. The defending champion, at the end of a major season that has been a major disappointment, came out firing with three birdies on the opening four holes and made the turn in 32 until back-to-back bogeys. He wound up with a 69.
A resurgent Paul Casey was in the group at 67, while U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, British Open runner-up Henrik Stenson and the ageless Miguel Angel Jimenez were among 11 players at 68.
Mickelson wound up with the same score as Woods, only they arrived at 71 much differently. Woods had only two birdies. Mickelson shot 71 despite two double bogeys, including one on the 18th hole. On the par-5 fourth hole, he hooked his tee shot out-of-bounds and nearly lost the next tee shot in the same place.
"The first four holes was like a shock to my system," Mickelson said. "Hitting it out-of-bounds on 4 ... out-of-bounds is not even in play. So I got off to a terrible start. I was actually under par for a little while, but that took a lot of fight. And unfortunately, I'm in a position where if I hit a low round tomorrow, I can get back in it."
He headed straight to the practice range, even summoning coach Butch Harmon down from the Sky Sports television booth.
Asked when he finished his work if he was worried about his game, Mickelson replied, "Not now. I was."
The Cardinals have recalled two pitchers from AAA before the series finale against the Dodgers tonight. Right hander Carlos Martinez and lefty Sam Freeman will join the big while Keith Butler and Brock Peterson have been optioned to Memphis. Martinez is up for the 3rd time this season, with all of his appearances coming in a relief role. He's struck out 11 batters in just over 11 innings and was the Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Month for June. Freeman has gone 7-2 with a 2.95 ERA in 44 games at Memphis.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Shelby Miller escaped with just a bad scare. The St. Louis Cardinals rookie plans on being ready to go again in five days with a bruised right elbow.
"It feels good. I mean, it doesn't feel good but it's better than it could be," the rookie said after the Los Angeles Dodgers punished his replacements in a 13-4 victory on Wednesday night.
"It got me right in between two major bones on my elbow, so I lucked out there. I feel like I'm not going to be out too long. I'm planning on my making my next start."
Leadoff man Carl Crawford's line-drive double knocked out Miller, but X-rays were negative for the 22-year-old right-hander on what the team described as an elbow contusion. He's among the league leaders with a 2.89 ERA while going 11-7 in 22 starts.
Miller pivoted after the pitch to Crawford with his back to the plate, but couldn't get his arm out of the way of the liner that bounded into shallow left field for a double. The elbow was numb at first.
"You always think about the worst things when something like that happens, especially when you've got the trainer trying to get you to grip stuff," Miller said. "You're just in shock."
By Thursday, Miller thought he'd just be sore.
"We've all agreed, it's a good chance that I'm not going to miss any time," Miller said.
Andre Ethier and Skip Schumaker each had three hits and a season-best four RBIs and Crawford had a season-best four hits and a walk. The Dodgers had 18 hits to top their previous best by one, a night after the Cardinals ended their franchise-record 15-game road winning streak, and are 16-3 since the All-Star break.
Schumaker and Jerry Hairston Jr. had two RBIs apiece in a six-run second off Jake Westbrook, the scheduled starter Thursday working on three days' rest.
"When they go out there, they know they've shot their next start," manager Mike Matheny said. "He was determined to stay in there as long as he could.
Cardinals third-string catcher Rob Johnson got the last out in the ninth in his second career pitching appearance, striking out Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez.
Ricky Nolasco (8-9) opened with four scoreless innings before giving up three runs in the fifth, all of them unearned because of the pitcher's wild throw to first for a three-base error.
Rookie Michael Blazek worked out of a bases-loaded jam to finish a scoreless first before the Dodgers took off, sending 10 batters against Westbrook (7-7) in the second.
Carlos Martinez, among the Cardinals top pitching prospects, was recalled from Triple-A Memphis to make his first career start Thursday night against the Dodgers and Hyun-Jin Ryu. The 21-year-old right-hander is 4-2 with a 1.76 ERA in the minors and made his major league debut earlier this year out of the bullpen, with a 5.56 ERA in 11 1-3 innings over 10 appearances.
The 35-year-old Westbrook made his first regular-season relief appearance since April 19, 2004, when he worked seven perfect innings for Cleveland against Detroit. In 4 2-3 innings he gave up nine runs on 13 hits.
"You want to come in and do what you can and help the team out," Westbrook said. "Three days rest is sufficient for most people.
"The bottom line is I didn't do that."
A Star Wars-themed night that featured graphically-enhanced images of Cardinals players on the video board, and storm troopers at home plate for the exchange of lineup cards fell flat with Matheny, who said he'd never seen any movies in the series.
"We weren't a movie-going family," said Matheny, who recalled a childhood minus cable TV, too, and days spent playing football, baseball and Wiffleball.
Notes: The Dodgers' Matt Kemp was eligible to come off the DL Tuesday from a left ankle injury but manager Don Mattingly said he's not ready to sprint and make sudden stops and cuts. ... Holliday has grounded into a career-high 25 double plays, by far the most in the majors, and David Freese is among the leaders with 18 after getting victimized in the fourth. Former Cardinal Albert Pujols twice led the league, totaling 29 in 2011. ... Dodgers RF Yasiel Puig's attempt at a leaping catch in the stands was thwarted by a fan who gloved the ball on Matt Adams' long foul.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Adams homered in the eighth inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals snapped the Los Angeles Dodgers' 15-game road winning streak with a 5-1 victory on Tuesday night.
Joe Kelly pitched into the sixth inning, outperforming Clayton Kershaw and helping St. Louis to its fourth victory in the last six games. Tony Cruz added an RBI single.
The Dodgers' road winning streak was a franchise record. Their previous loss away from Chavez Ravine was a 4-2 decision at San Francisco on July 6.
Adrian Gonzalez hit a one-out RBI single off Kelly (3-3) in the sixth, but that was it for Los Angeles against the right-hander. He left with runners on first and second and the Cardinals nursing a 2-1 lead.
Andre Ethier singled against Randy Choate, loading the bases, but Seth Maness got A.J. Ellis to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
The Cardinals then grabbed control in the eighth. Beltran hit his team-high 20th homer off Brandon League for a 3-1 lead. Matt Holliday then walked before Adams connected for his third pinch-hit drive of the season.
Kershaw (10-7) allowed two runs and six hits in six innings for Los Angeles, which dropped to 15-3 since the All-Star break. The left-hander is 5-2 with a sparkling 1.62 ERA over his last eight starts.
Cruz helped the Cardinals take the lead in the sixth. He singled in Jon Jay, then moved to third on Pete Kozma's double. He came home on Kelly's bouncer to second, lifting St. Louis to a 2-0 lead.
Kelly was working on a scoreless streak of 20 innings before Los Angeles scored in the sixth. He allowed six hits while lowering his ERA to 2.98.
St. Louis recorded four double plays in the first six innings to help Kelly, who is 3-0 in five starts since joining the rotation on July 6. The Cardinals used six pitchers.
The Dodgers came up two wins short of tying the major league single-season mark of 17 straight road wins for the Detroit Tigers from April 3-May 24, 1984, and New York Giants from May 9-29, 1916. The two-season mark is 21 in a row by Detroit from Sept. 18, 1983 to May 24, 1984.
NOTES: St. Louis-based rapper Nelly took batting practice before the game. He also threw out the ceremonial first pitch from the rubber on his bobblehead night. "I was glad that I just didn't totally bounce the ball," he said. "It hit the dirt a little, but it was there. Just a little low and outside." ... Los Angeles is 32-8 in its last 40 games. ... The Cardinals scored in the first inning in their previous four games before coming up empty on Tuesday. ... Beltran did not hit a home run in July, the first month he has gone without a round-tripper since September 1998, his first month in the league
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Adam Wainwright lacked ace stuff again, falling behind in the count and battling to get outs. Facing the visitors no one likes to see these days, he again took the St. Louis Cardinals deep into the game but missed a third straight chance to take the National League lead in wins.
"I wouldn't say I'm in a lull by any means," Wainwright said after the Los Angeles Dodgers won 3-2 for their 15th straight road victory Monday night. "I feel great, there's no reason not to be winning games.
"A play here, a play there has not been going my way."
Manager Mike Matheny was unhappy and terse about Carlos Beltran's first sacrifice bunt of the season after the first two runners reached safely in the seventh.
"Sometimes we put them on, sometimes we do it on our own," Matheny said. "A lot of things could have happened differently for us, a lot of little things could have changed the game but didn't, and now we move on."
Zack Greinke pitched into the seventh inning and raised his batting average to .405 with an RBI single for the Dodgers.
Wainwright (13-7) is tied for the league lead with teammate Lance Lynn and is 0-2 in his last three starts although he's worked at least seven innings in all three.
"It didn't have the zip on it maybe a little bit, but I was still able to make some good pitches," Wainwright said. "I mean, I'm tired of tipping the hat, but you've got to tip your hat."
Wainwright had retired eight in a row before Nick Punto doubled to the opposite-field in left with two outs in the seventh and Greinke lofted a single on a tough curveball that made it 3-1.
"I can't remember the last time a pitcher hit that for a hit, much less an RBI hit," Wainwright said. "That's not the pitch of the inning that really gets me. A double to Punto on a bad pitch, middle of the plate, that cost us."
Punto was productive subbing for injured shortstop Hanley Ramirez and the Dodgers got an RBI apiece from Andre Ethier and A.J. Ellis while matching the Cincinnati Reds' 15-game run in 1957. They're two wins shy of the NL record set by the 1916 New York Giants.
Greinke (9-3) allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings for his 100th career victory, allowing two hits in the third, fourth and fifth but no runs. Paco Rodriguez earned his second career save with a perfect ninth.
Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig had an RBI apiece for the Cardinals, stifled in the opener of a 10-game homestand after totaling 44 runs the previous four games. They've lost nine of 12 overall.
Punto's relay to the plate preserved a one-run lead in the fifth and denied David Freese of an RBI double, and he made nice defensive plays to end the seventh and eighth.
Matt Carpenter doubled off the right-field wall in the first and took third when Yasiel Puig fumbled the ball, then sprinted home on Beltran's groundout when Punto sailed a throw over catcher A.J. Ellis' head.
Running shoe-top catches by Puig in right field and Ethier in center helped Greinke strand three Cardinals in a scoreless third. St. Louis came up empty again in the fourth after opening with singles by Jon Jay and Tony Cruz, and Punto's relay in the fifth caught Allen Craig at the plate on Freese's double to right.
The first three Dodgers reached in the fourth, with Adrian Gonzalez stopping at third on Puig's double off the right-field wall and then scoring on Ethier's broken-bat single. Puig scored the go-ahead run when Ellis beat the relay on a potential double-play ball.
NOTES: Major league ERA leader Clayton Kershaw (10-6, 1.87) faces Cardinals fifth starter Joe Kelly (2-3, 3.10) on Tuesday. Kershaw was the NL pitcher of the month in July going 4-1 with a 1.34 ERA, while Kelly has thrown 14 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings for the Cardinals in a bid to become more than just an occasional fifth starter. ... The Dodgers are 8-1 in Greinke's last nine starts.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Defiant till the end, Alex Rodriguez is intent on evading baseball's most sweeping punishment since the Black Sox scandal.
Rodriguez was suspended through 2014 and All-Stars Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera were banned 50 games apiece Monday when Major League Baseball disciplined 13 players for their relationship to Biogenesis of America, a Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
The harshest penalty was reserved for Rodriguez, the New York Yankees slugger, a three-time Most Valuable Player and baseball's highest-paid star. He said he will appeal his suspension, which covers 211 games, by Thursday's deadline. And since arbitrator Fredric Horowitz isn't expected to rule until November or December at the earliest, Rodriguez was free to make his season debut Monday night and play the rest of this year.
Sidelined since hip surgery in January, Rodriguez rejoined the Yankees five hours after the suspension in a series opener at the Chicago White Sox, playing third base and batting fourth.
"The last seven months has been a nightmare, has been probably the worst time of my life for sure," Rodriguez said before the game.
Booed loudly each time he walked to the plate, Rodriguez went 1 for 4 in New York's 8-1 loss. He blooped a single to left field in the second inning, flied out in the fourth and sixth, then struck out in the eighth. He acknowledged he felt rusty in the field, though he made all his plays.
"It was fun to go out there and play the game again," Rodriguez said. "I love the fans here."
The other 12 players agreed to their 50-game penalties, giving them a chance to return for the playoffs.
Ryan Braun's 65-game suspension last month and previous penalties bring to 18 the total number of players sanctioned for their connection with Biogenesis.
At the center of it all was Rodriguez, once the greatest player of his time, reduced Monday night to saying that he was humbled, at 38, just to "have the opportunity to put on this uniform again" and adding if he didn't fight for his career, no one else would.
A-Rod's drug penalty was for "his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone over the course of multiple years," MLB said.
His punishment under the labor contract was "for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the office of the commissioner's investigation."
In Chicago, Rodriguez wouldn't deny using PEDs, saying "when the time is right, there will be an opportunity to do all of that. I don't think that time is right now."
He added: "It's been the toughest fight of my life. By any means, am I out of the woods? This is probably just phase two just starting. It's not going to get easier. It's probably going to get harder."
Rodriguez admitted four years ago that he used PEDs while with Texas from 2001-03 but has repeatedly denied using them since. His penalty was more than double the previous high for a PED suspension, a 100-game ban given last year to San Francisco pitcher Guillermo Mota for a second offense.
"At some point we'll sit in front of an arbiter and give our case," Rodriguez said.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, minutes after losing captain Derek Jeter for the third time this year, was ready to welcome A-Rod back. "I'm not here to judge people. That's not my job," Girardi said. "He's a player as long as he's in our clubhouse."
Girardi called the suspensions "another black eye for us, but we're trying to clean this game up."
The suspensions are thought to be the most at once for off-field conduct since 1921, when Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned eight White Sox players for life for throwing the 1919 World Series against Cincinnati: Shoeless Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Happy Felsch, Chick Gandil, Fred McMullin, Charles "Swede" Risberg, Buck Weaver and Claude "Lefty" Williams. They had been suspended by the team the previous year and were penalized by baseball even though they had been acquitted of criminal charges.
As for the modern-day All-Stars, Cruz, an outfielder, leads Texas in RBIs and Peralta has been a top hitter and shortstop for Detroit, a pair of teams in the midst of pennant races. They will be eligible to return for the postseason.
Others agreeing to 50-game bans included Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Fernando Martinez; Philadelphia pitcher Antonio Bastardo; Seattle catcher Jesus Montero; New York Mets utilityman Jordany Valdespin and outfielder Cesar Puello; Houston pitcher Sergio Escalona; and free agent pitchers Fautino De Los Santos and Jordan Norberto.
While the players' association has fought many drug penalties in the past three decades, attitudes of its membership have shifted sharply in recent years and union staff encouraged settlements in the Biogenesis probe.
"The accepted suspensions announced today are consistent with the punishments set forth in the Joint Drug Agreement, and were arrived at only after hours of intense negotiations between the bargaining parties, the players and their representatives," union head Michael Weiner said. "For the player appealing, Alex Rodriguez, we agree with his decision to fight his suspension. We believe that the commissioner has not acted appropriately ... The union, consistent with its history, will defend his rights vigorously."
Fighting a brain tumor diagnosed a year ago, Weiner spoke in a raspy voice during a conference call and said the union's executive board will consider stiffer drug penalties when players meet in December.
But the union will fight Rodriguez's discipline.
"We've never had a 200-plus (game) penalty for a player who may have used drugs," he said. "And among other things, I just think that's way out of line."
A-Rod intimated Friday that New York did not want him to return. The Yankees answered Monday with a statement:
"We are compelled to address certain reckless and false allegations concerning the Yankees' role in this matter," the team said. "The New York Yankees in no way instituted and/or assisted MLB in the direction of this investigation; or used the investigation as an attempt to avoid its responsibilities under a player contract; or did its medical staff fail to provide the appropriate standard of care to Alex Rodriguez."
Rodriguez is making $28 million this year, and his salary drops to $25 million next year and $21 million in 2015. If the 211-game penalty is upheld, his lost pay could range from $30.6 million to $32.7 million, depending on when exactly the suspension is served.
Players have often succeeded at persuading arbitrators to overturn or shorten drug suspensions. In the era before the drug agreement, LaMarr Hoyt, Ferguson Jenkins, Pascual Perez and Willie Wilson were among those who had success in hearings, and Steve Howe's lifetime ban for a seventh suspension related to drugs or alcohol was cut to 119 days.
Weiner said a settlement prior to Horowitz's decision is possible but not likely. David Cornwell, an attorney for one of Rodriguez's three law firms, called the penalty an "unprecedented action."
Rodriguez's suspension might dampen his future chances for election to the Hall of Fame. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire all compiled big numbers, too, but voters blocked them from Cooperstown because of the drug cloud.
Though they lose part of their salaries, the stats and awards are safe for baseball players penalized in drug cases. Nothing is stripped from any record book or trophy case.
That's not always the case in other sports. Doping cost Lance Armstrong his seven Tour de France cycling titles and stripped away Olympic gold medals from sprinters Ben Johnson and Marion Jones.
Cruz attributed his action to a gastrointestinal infection, helicobacter pylori, and said he had lost 40 pounds following the 2011 season.
"I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error," he said in a statement. "I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse."
Peralta can rejoin Detroit for a season-ending three-game series at Miami - not far from the former office of Biogenesis.
In a statement released by the Tigers, Peralta said in "spring of 2012, I made a terrible mistake that I deeply regret." Peralta apologized to his teammates and "the great fans in Detroit," saying he knows he let "many good people down."
MLB's investigation began last year after San Francisco outfielder and All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera tested positive for elevated testosterone, as did Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon and San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal. The probe escalated in January when the Miami New Times published documents obtained from former Biogenesis associate Porter Fisher that linked several players to Biogenesis.
MLB said Melky Cabrera, Colon and Grandal will not receive additional discipline and it found no violations for Washington pitcher Gio Gonzalez and Baltimore infielder Danny Valencia, both linked to Biogenesis in media reports.
In June, baseball struck a deal for Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch to cooperate. After holding investigatory interviews with the players, MLB presented evidence to the players' union along with its intended penalties, starting the final round of negotiations.
"Those players who have violated the program have created scrutiny for the vast majority of our players, who play the game the right way," baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said. "We continue to attack this issue on every front - from science and research, to education and awareness, to fact-finding and investigative skills."
Picked first in the 1993 amateur draft, Rodriguez reached the majors at age 18 with Seattle and was an All-Star by 20. He seemed destined to become one of the greatest players in the history of the game, and appeared in line to break the all-time home run record - he ranks fifth with 647.
Yet for all his accomplishments, Rodriguez has been reviled by fans as much as celebrated, especially later in his career. His off-field antics, enormous paycheck and playoff failures have often overshadowed his feats at the plate.
The Yankees are now saddled with an aging star slowed by two hip operations. They still owe him around $94 million, raising questions about whether his dwindling production is worth that price.
BALTIMORE (AP) - Art Donovan, the Hall of Fame defensive lineman who spent much of his 12-year career with the Baltimore Colts, has died. He was 89.
Donovan died Sunday at Stella Maris Hospice in Baltimore, according to Kevin Byrne, senior vice president of the Baltimore Ravens.
Back in the day when NFL players made little money, the 6-foot-3, 265-pound Donovan played for the love of the game and the thrill of winning. He helped the Colts win championships in 1958 and 1959.
Donovan broke into professional football in 1950 with the Colts, who folded after his rookie season. He played with the New York Yanks in 1951 and the Dallas Texans in 1952 before the Dallas franchise moved to Baltimore and became the second version of the Colts. He spent the remainder of his career with Baltimore before retiring after the 1961 season.
CINCINNATI (AP) — Even when things go horribly wrong on the road, the St. Louis Cardinals can always count on one soothing stop. No matter how deep their slump, it'll end in Cincinnati.
Matt Carpenter broke his 0-for-23 slump with a bases-loaded double during the decisive rally, and the Cardinals ended a tough trip on the upswing by beating the Reds 15-2 on Sunday.
The Cardinals went 3-8 on a trip that included seven straight losses — four of them in Pittsburgh, allowing the Pirates to overtake them for the NL Central lead. On their final stop, an offense that couldn't do much of anything found a little bit of everything.
"Offensively, we did a terrific job," manager Mike Matheny said. "We had a little bit of everything — some power, some good situational hitting, made the (defensive) plays."
It's been like that against the Reds lately.
St. Louis took two of three at Great American Ball Park and has won its last six series against Cincinnati, its best such stretch against the Reds since 2003-04. The Cardinals lead the season series 8-4.
"Some teams you play better than others, but they've got our number for sure," said Reds starter Mike Leake (10-5), who gave up a season-high seven runs. "They play us tough. It's on us to try to figure them out because they've got us figured out for the most part."
The Cardinals scored their most runs against Cincinnati since 1993. They've scored at least 10 runs against the Reds in four games this season, the first time they've done that since 1980.
Carpenter's two-run double off the wall completed a five-run rally in the sixth against Leake and two relievers, setting up another blowout.
"It's a great feeling," Carpenter said. "It's even better that we come back and win the series in a convincing fashion. It was fun to join in on the action."
Matt Adams, David Freese and Tony Cruz homered for the Cardinals, who have scored 13, 13, 3 and 15 runs in their last four games.
St. Louis finished with 19 hits and a season high in runs. Every starter except Lance Lynn drove in at least one run.
Lynn (13-5) allowed four hits in eight innings, including Zack Cozart's two-run homer. Lynn struck out a season-high 11 and joined Adam Wainwright as 13-game winners in a rotation that has the NL's third-best ERA.
"I had pretty good command of all four pitches, and I was able to use all of them on both sides of the plate," Lynn said. "That makes it a lot easier to pitch. Between my last three starts, I've had the best stuff I've had all year. "
The Reds have dropped seven of nine, leaving the defending NL Central champions marooned in third place.
The Cardinals scored in the first inning of all three games of the series. They scored four off Bronson Arroyo on Friday night, one on Saturday and four more on Sunday off Leake, who had allowed a total of four runs in his last three starts combined.
Matt Holliday and Freese had RBI doubles, and Adams hit a two-run homer — his first since July 6 — for the 4-0 lead only 19 pitches into the game. Holliday improved to 9 for 20 career off Leake.
The Cardinals sent 10 batters to the plate for five runs in the sixth, aided by a pair of errors. They opened the inning with five consecutive hits, and Carpenter's two-run double off Logan Ondrusek made it 9-2 and gave the second baseman relief from his personal slump.
"At that point, I was so relieved to just put the barrel of the bat on the ball that I didn't care what happened," Carpenter said.
The Cardinals hit only nine homers in July, including one after the All-Star break. They had six in three days at Great American Ball Park.
Reds third baseman Todd Frazier went without a hit for his ninth straight game, leaving him in an 0-for-28 slump. It's the longest by a Reds player since Drew Stubbs went 0 for 32 midway through last season.
Notes: The Cardinals play 17 of their next 24 games at Busch Stadium. They open a 10-game homestand on Monday against the Dodgers, with Wainwright trying for his 14th victory. ... The Reds are off on Monday before resuming their homestand with a pair of games against the Athletics. ... Cardinals OF Carlos Beltran got a day of rest. ... Reds LH reliever Sean Marshall and RH starter Johnny Cueto still haven't resumed throwing. Marshall, on the DL since May 24 with a sore left shoulder, had a setback before the All-Star break. Cueto has been sidelined since June 5 with a strained muscle in the back of his shoulder.