Tempers flair between Cardinals and Reds again

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols (5) makes the play on a hard hit ground ball off the bat of Cincinnati Reds’ Paul Janish (not pictured) during the fifth inning of play in their MLB baseball game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, May 15, 2011. REUTERS/John Sommers II (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

It wouldn’t be a Cardinals-Reds series if somebody wasn’t yelling at somebody by the end of it.

On Sunday, Francisco Cordero was the recipient of some backlash from the Cardinals’ dugout after he hit slugger Albert Pujols with a pitch during an 0-2 count in the ninth inning. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, St. Louis backup catcher Gerald Laird was mainly doing the barking at Cordero.

“Just a little fun,” Cordero said. “I think it was because I hit Pujols 0-2, Gerald Laird was all loud in the dugout. He was yelling at me and pointing at me and saying a whole bunch of stuff.

“Out of all the guys that are great hitters, great players, Gerald Laird doesn’t even play. He’s the one yelling at me because I hit Pujols 0-2. 0-2! I wasn’t trying to hit him. I’ve got to face (Matt) Holliday next, who can take the lead with one swing, and he’s yelling at me.

“All I know is he was loud, so I said something back to him.”

I don’t blame Laird or any other member of the Cardinals for being upset about Cordero hitting Pujols. Brandon Phillips was the one who threw gasoline on the fire last year by calling the Cardinals “little bitches” so now St. Louis always has its guard up.

But Laird has to realize the situation. Cordero isn’t going to hit Pujols on purpose when he has him down 0-2 in the count. To put the tying run on base with Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman coming up just doesn’t make sense. One could argue that Cordero chose that moment to hit Pujols because he would have the perfect excuse to claim it was accidental. But even Pujols admitted after the game that he didn’t think Cordero did it on purpose.

“I’m pretty sure Francisco didn’t try to do that on purpose,” Pujols told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “He doesn’t want to bring the winning run to the plate with two big hitters, Matt and Berkman (coming up next). It’s probably something that slipped. You turn the page and get ready for tomorrow.”

What has to be more frustrating for the Cardinals than the situation with Cordero is the fact that they were swept by the Reds. St. Louis went into the weekend with a small lead in the NL Central and came out of it looking up at Cincinnati in the standings.

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