Playoff Series: Game 3 of 3

St. Louis won 3-0

Game 1: Tuesday, October 1
St. Louis 12Final
Arizona 2
Game 2: Thursday, October 3
St. Louis 2Final
Arizona 1
Game 3: Saturday, October 5
Arizona 3Final
St. Louis 6

    7:30 PM ET, October 5, 2002

    Busch Stadium I, St. Louis, Missouri 

    123456789 R H E
    ARI 020010000 3 - -
    STL 01120002 - 6 - -

    W: J. Fassero (2-0)

    L: M. Batista (0-1)

    S: J. Isringhausen (2)

    Cards sweep away defending champions

    ST. LOUIS (AP) -- After getting past Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, the St. Louis Cardinals quickly finished off the defending World Series champions.

    Game 3 at a glance
    Left fielder Albert Pujols scored a run and knocked in another, but he made the play of the game when he gunned down Chris Donnels at home plate to end the fifth inning.

    The Arizona offense finished a rough series by getting just four hits. They scored just six runs in three games.

    Key move
    Cardinals manager Tony La Russa elected to keep Pujols in left and used Miguel Cairo at third to replace the injured Scott Rolen. Pujols made the big throw, and Cairo also had two runs and two RBI.

    Key stat
    Andy Benes didn't get the win (he pitched just 4 2/3 innings), but he didn't get hammered as he gave up three runs. It was his 16th straight start allowing three runs or less.

    Looking ahead
    The NLCS begins Wednesday. The Cardinals will open at Atlanta or at home against San Francisco. With the sweep, they have their rotation in order with Matt Morris ready for Game 1.

    Miguel Cairo, starting in place of injured Scott Rolen, drove in two runs and scored twice as the Cardinals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-3 Saturday night to complete a three-game sweep in the NL division series.

    "We really wanted to try to win it and get some rest before the next round,'' leadoff hitter Fernando Vina said. "We didn't want to face Randy and Curt, we wanted to get it over with.''

    Playing an inspired postseason following the deaths of pitcher Darryl Kile and broadcaster Jack Buck, the Cardinals advanced to the NL championship series for the second time in three years. And they did it by defeating the team that chased them in a tense, Game 5 of the opening round last season.

    "This win right here is for D.K. and Jack Buck,'' Vina said. "They're part of the Cardinals family and we lost them. My heart goes out to the families. Hopefully we can go all the way to the end.''

    Pitcher Matt Morris carried Kile's jersey into a group celebration near second base after the final out. St. Louis now will play either Atlanta or San Francisco starting Wednesday.

    There's no telling when -- or if -- Rolen will return to the Cardinals lineup. The All-Star third baseman injured his left shoulder in Game 2, which Cairo won with an RBI single.

    The Diamondbacks, who won the World Series in record speed -- it took them only four years -- lost their crown in just three games.

    Minus injured star Luis Gonzalez, who separated his shoulder in the final week of the regular season at Busch Stadium, Arizona totaled a mere six runs and 18 hits in the series.

    The Diamondbacks also were without Craig Counsell and Danny Bautista.

    "It puts a strain on the offense,'' manager Bob Brenly said. "It gives the opposition the opportunity to pitch around the hitters they think can hurt them the most. It started to show up at the end of the season, and really here in the playoffs.''

    Earlier Saturday, the New York Yankees were eliminated from the AL playoffs. Without the Diamondbacks and Yankees, baseball fans are assured of seeing two new teams in the World Series for the first time since 1998.

    Tino Martinez

    Tino Martinez's days in St. Louis might be numbered.

    The Cardinals have swept their way into the NLCS three times since baseball went to a division-series format in 1995, also taking the Braves in three straight in 2000 and the Padres in 1996.

    Counting the regular season, the Cardinals have beaten the Diamondbacks seven straight times, including a victory over Johnson in Game 1. Schilling started Game 2, and St. Louis won once he departed.

    Cairo went 3-for-3 with two RBI, including a run-scoring double in the eighth as the Cardinals scored twice off Byung-Hyun Kim. Pinch-hitter Kerry Robinson added a run-scoring single in the eighth.

    Pitcher Andy Benes squeezed home the go-ahead run for St. Louis. Albert Pujols drove in a run and saved a run with his second outfield assist to highlight this victory.

    During the regular season, Cairo ranked second in the NL with 19 pinch hits.

    "I tried to take this game like another game, like a regular-season game,'' Cairo said. "Today, I was just thinking I was pinch-hitting every at-bat.''

    Pujols saved a 4-3 lead in the fifth when he threw out Chris Donnels at the plate from left field on Steve Finley's two-out hit.

    Manager Tony La Russa started Pujols, who led the team with 127 RBI in the regular season, in left field instead of third base in place of Rolen to allow him to concentrate more on hitting.

    Cairo had an RBI single in the second off Miguel Batista. Rolen is out for an undetermined period with a sprained left shoulder.

    The St. Louis bullpen overcame a wild outing from Benes, who got the start in Game 3 in place of the injured Woody Williams.

    Benes walked four and gave up a pair of home runs, a two-run shot in the second by David Dellucci and a solo homer in the fifth by Rod Barajas that cut the Diamondbacks' deficit to 4-3, and failed to make it out of the fifth.

    The homers were the only hits allowed in 4 2/3 innings by Benes, who entered the game with a string of 17 consecutive scoreless innings.

    Benes' biggest contribution was a squeeze bunt in the fourth that put the Cardinals ahead to stay at 3-2. Benes, who batted .206 with a homer and two RBI this season, kept the Diamondbacks guessing by going in and out of a bunt stance several times before laying one down just past the plate on a 3-1 pitch as Cairo tumbled across the plate.

    Vina added an RBI single in the fourth to chase Batista (0-1). He was 2-for-4 in the clincher and 9-for-15 in the series after a somewhat sub-par .270 average in the regular season.

    "You always want to be confident,'' Vina said. "As a leadoff hitter the weight is on your shoulders to try to get something going for the ballclub.''

    Jeff Fassero (2-0) allowed two hits in 1 1/3 innings, benefiting from Pujols' assist in the fifth, to win his second game of the series. Rick White worked a perfect seventh, Steve Kline worked a perfect eighth and Jason Isringhausen finished for the save.

    Batista was 8-9 with a 4.29 ERA during the regular season, a decided step down from 23-game winners Johnson and Schilling. But Brenly never considered using Johnson on three days' rest, reasoning someone other than his big two would have to beat the Cardinals for the Diamondbacks to advance.

    Batista beat the Cardinals in Game 3 last fall but lasted only 3 2/3 innings this time, giving up four runs on five hits.

    "The Cardinals just had a great approach,'' Brenly said. "Most pitchers will tell you they rely on the hitters' aggressiveness, but they stayed disciplined and used short, contact swings.''

    The Cardinals came from behind to win for the 44th time this season. Counting the regular season and playoffs, this was their 100th victory.

    Game notes

    Carole Buck, the widow of longtime Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Jack Buck's longtime sidekick, Mike Shannon, made a barehanded catch on the receiving end. ... The Diamondbacks' Alex Cintron was booed heavily in pregame introductions. Cintron banged into Rolen on the basepaths in Game 2, injuring his shoulder.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press