The leadoff hitter's perfect 11th-inning bunt, his second
game-winner this month, was the difference in a 2-1 victory over
the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.
"I believe he's a great guy to execute whatever you want to
execute," manager Tony La Russa said. "But they might pitch out,
they know we're thinking about it. It's just a guessing game,
that's the scary part about it."
Cubs manager Dusty Baker was looking for the squeeze, but not on
a 1-1 count.
"We knew they were probably going to squeeze, we just didn't
know when," Baker said. "I didn't think they were going to do it
"Yeah, we knew they were going to try something like that."
Pinch-hitter John Mabry led off the 11th with a triple, the
fifth of his career and first since Aug. 3, 2002, off Sergio Mitre
(2-5). Mabry got the extra base after his drive off the left-field
wall caromed away from Todd Hollandsworth.
"I saw the ball kick away from him and I knew it was going to
be a tough throw off his back leg," Mabry said. "And I was hoping
for a strong breeze from center to get me there."
With one out, Eckstein dropped a perfect bunt in front of the
plate as pinch-runner Hector Luna scored without a play.
"I knew it was going to be on one of those pitches, I just
didn't know which pitch," Eckstein said. "Our club just finds
ways to win."
Eckstein also had a game-winning squeeze in the ninth inning
July 6 at Arizona. This one came with a sellout crowd of 49,840
watching and helped the Cardinals improve to 6-2 since the All-Star
The Cardinals' Chris Carpenter and Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs
dueled for nine innings, each allowing a run. Carpenter, who failed
in an attempt to become the majors' first 15-game winner, allowed a
run and eight hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
"It was a fun little battle," Carpenter said.
In his last seven starts, Carpenter is 6-0 and has allowed three
runs in 59 2/3 innings for an 0.50 ERA.
Zambrano was more impressive, giving up only three hits and
matching his career high with 12 strikeouts while walking none. He
also retired his last 15 batters after a leadoff single by Mark
Grudzielanek in the fifth and is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA over his last
"I was feeling great today, plus I like the matchup when I face
Carpenter or [Matt] Morris," Zambrano said. "It's good to have
Carpenter on the other side. Every time I come here I want to throw
my best game and throw like I did today."
Zambrano also struck out 12 Cardinals on May 2, 2004, in a 1-0,
10-inning loss in St. Louis.
Jerry Hairston tied his career high with four hits for the Cubs,
including a triple with one out in the 10th, and lacked only a
homer for the cycle. But he was stranded when Jason Isringhausen
retired Aramis Ramirez on a bases-loaded grounder to end the
Al Reyes (3-1) got the last out in the 11th.
Rookie John Rodriguez hit his second home run since being called
up five days ago for the Cardinals, who are 2-1 against the Cubs at
home this season and 33-8 the last six seasons at Busch Stadium.
Tempers flared briefly after Hairston's wide slide into second
on a double play to end the seventh. Shortstop Eckstein objected to
Hairston's attempt to fluster him with a high leg and right arm.
Lee has played in 93 games and gotten a hit in all but 18
games this season. ... Cardinals starters have allowed three or
fewer runs in their last 15 starts. ... The Cardinals turned two
double plays, giving them seven the last two games. ... St. Louis
has scored 73 runs in the first, its biggest inning. ... Hairston
has five career four-hit games, the last on July 5, 2004, against
the Devil Rays. He was 3-for-4 against Carpenter after entering the
game 1-for-18. ... Larry Walker has struck out five of his last