Series: Game 1 of 3

St. Louis leads 1-0 (as of 9/17)

Game 1: Tuesday, September 17
St. Louis 11Final
Colorado 4
Game 2: Wednesday, September 18
St. Louis 8Final
Colorado 5
Game 3: Thursday, September 19
St. Louis 12Final
Colorado 6

Cardinals 11

(87-63, 43-36 away)

Rockies 4

(69-82, 44-32 home)

    9:05 PM ET, September 17, 2002

    Coors Field, Denver, Colorado 

    123456789 R H E
    STL 301000070 11 - -
    COL 100000300 4 - -

    W: J. Fassero (8-6)

    L: K. Mercker (3-1)

    Tino's grand slam caps Cards' seven-run eighth

    DENVER (AP) -- During the seventh inning, Tino Martinez and the rest of his teammates looked at Coors Field's scoreboard and saw that Houston had lost to Milwaukee.


    "Our game was tied,'' Martinez said, "and we wanted this game pretty bad. Fortunately, we were able to put some runs together in the next inning.''

    Did they ever.

    Martinez hit a grand slam, capping a seven-run eighth inning that carried the St. Louis Cardinals over the Colorado Rockies 11-4 on Tuesday night. Coupled with Houston's 5-4 loss to Milwaukee, the Cardinals reduced their magic number for clinching the NL Central to five. St. Louis leads the Astros by 7½ games.

    "It's not over yet. We've still got work to do, but it's nice to drop two spots,'' Martinez said. "We want to get this thing done as soon as we can.''

    Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said his team has one goal as it chases the division title.

    "You've got to take care of your own business,'' he said. "But once in a while you catch a break. I saw that Milwaukee was throwing Ben Sheets tonight, and he's tough.''

    Pinch-hitter So Taguchi broke a 4-4 tie with an RBI single in the eighth. Albert Pujols added a two-run single before Martinez's 10th career grand slam.

    Jeff Fassero (8-6) got three outs to earn the win.

    "That's a very good ballclub,'' Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "And we didn't see (J.D.) Drew or (Fernando) Vina. There's a reason they're in first place.''

    Edgar Renteria led off the eighth with a single against Kent Mercker (3-1). Mike Matheny popped up a bunt that Mercker caught, but the pitcher threw wildly to first trying to double up the runner.

    Renteria, on second as a result of the error, scored on Taguchi's single to center. Taguchi, recalled from Double-A New Haven on Sept. 7, was caught in a rundown between first and second, however.

    Miguel Cairo and Eli Marrero followed with singles and Jim Edmonds walked to load the bases. Pujols then singled and after a walk to Scott Rolen, Martinez hit his 19th homer off Sean Lowe.

    Martinez has hit at least one grand slam in eight consecutive seasons, one short of Willie McCovey's major league record.

    "It's nice to keep the streak going,'' Martinez said. "It's nothing I'm shooting for, but when it keeps going it's nice to have it.

    "It doesn't really cross my mind when I'm at the plate with the bases loaded. I'm up there trying to focus and get a base hit and drive in some runs. I don't think about home runs or grand slams. When it happens like it did tonight, then you think about it.''

    St. Louis' Chuck Finley pitched six strong innings and departed with a 4-2 lead, but the bullpen couldn't hold it.

    Finley, who has played a key role in the Cardinals' pennant drive since his acquisition July 19 from Cleveland, left after giving up three straight singles to start the seventh, including Juan Uribe's RBI hit.

    Fassero relieved Finley, and pinch-hitter Terry Shumpert sacrificed the runners to second and third. Jason Romano grounded to third, but Rolen's throw to the plate was in the dirt. The error allowed a run to score, and Gabe Kapler followed with an RBI single to make it 4-4.

    Fassero worked out of the jam as Todd Helton lined to first, and Martinez stepped on the base to double up Kapler.

    Colorado starter Aaron Cook went four innings, allowing six hits and four runs.

    Rolen's two-run homer highlighted the Cardinals' three-run first.

    Game notes

    Drew was available to pinch-hit after being in Vail earlier Tuesday to see knee specialist Dr. Richard Steadman. Drew has been troubled by tendinitis in his left knee. ... With Vina in California attending to personal business, the Cardinals started Eduardo Perez in right field and Miguel Cairo at second. ... The Rockies were leaning toward starting Victor Santos or Randy Flores on Friday in place of Mike Hampton, who has a strained ligament in his right foot. ... The Rockies added LHP Cory Vance to their roster. Vance was 10-8 with a 3.77 ERA with the Double-A Carolina Mudcats. ... St. Louis reached agreement with the Tennessee Smokies of the Southern League to serve as the team's Double-A affiliate beginning in 2003.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press