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Williams rebounds after two rough starts

6/22/2003

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Back at Busch Stadium, Woody Williams was stingy again.

Williams rebounded from two subpar starts with eight strong
innings, and went 2-for-3 with an RBI double in the St. Louis
Cardinals' 8-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday
night.

"I think he's a man on a mission,'' manager Tony La Russa said.

Albert Pujols homered and drove in four runs and 26-year-old
rookie Bo Hart had three hits, making him 7-for-12 with three RBI in three games since he was brought up from Triple-A Memphis on Thursday. Hart replaced the injured Miguel Cairo (broken hand), who had replaced the injured Fernando Vina (torn hamstring).

Hart got a standing ovation before his last at-bat in the
eighth, and another standing ovation after he struck out.

"That last at-bat was probably one of the best moments of my
life,'' Hart said. "Even though I struck out, it didn't really
matter. I'm just loving every moment of it.''

The Cardinals have won four of five and took a 12-11 lead in the
interleague series against their cross-state rivals, who beat them
in the 1985 World Series. Joe Randa homered for the Royals, who
lost for only the second time in seven games.

Williams (9-2) allowed five hits and had eight strikeouts, six
on called third strikes, with one walk. He allowed 10 runs in 12
innings in his previous two starts, both on the road against the
Red Sox and Yankees, but against the Royals he lowered his home ERA
to an NL-best 1.53 with a 7-1 record.

He's 15-3 with a 1.99 ERA for his career at Busch Stadium.

"What happened the last start was ugly, but it's nice to bounce
back,'' Williams said. "I love pitching in front of the home fans,
there's no doubt about that.

"I wish there wasn't such a big difference in home and road and
that's something I need to work on.''

Williams singled in the second and his double off Darrell May
(0-4) gave the Cardinals a 3-1 lead in the fourth. One of the NL's
better-hitting pitchers, Williams is batting .281 (9-for-32) with
five RBI this year.

May gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings. He's winless
in 13 starts this season and 16 overall dating to Sept. 11, 2002,
against the White Sox, although he was named the team's pitcher of
the month in May when he was 0-0 with a 3.76 ERA.

Manager Tony Pena remembers catching 20-game loser Jose DeLeon
when he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"Sometimes, there are pitchers who pitch just well enough to
lose,'' Pena said. "He hasn't pitched badly, that's just the way
it goes.''

May figured he'd be in for a tough night when he struggled to
control his slider in the bullpen.

"I felt like I was battling myself more than the other team,''
May said. "It could have been a lot worse. I had the ball up all
night.''

Pujols and Eduardo Perez had RBI doubles in the first and Mike
Matheny's fourth homer made it 4-1 in the sixth. Pujols had an RBI
double and Edgar Renteria, who was 2-for-4, drove him in with a
single off Jason Gilfillan to make it 6-1 in the seventh.

Pujols added a two-run shot in the eighth inning off Ryan
Bukvich for his 21st homer of the season.

"There is a book on Albert Pujols,'' Pena said. "But nobody
can figure him out.''

Game notes
Robert Drake replaced 2B umpire Terry Craft, who missed the
game for personal reasons. ... Pena was ejected for arguing pitch
calls after the top of the fifth. It's Pena's second ejection this
season. ... Pujols, who was 0-for-5 on Friday, has hit in nine of
10 games after going hitless the previous game. He's a combined
16-for-39 (.410) with four homers and 13 RBIs under that scenario
and has gone hitless in consecutive starts only once, on April 9-10
at Colorado. ... The Royals are 49-67 all-time in interleague play.
... Renteria leads the majors with 34 multihit games, including the
last four games, and is 18-for-39 (.462) during a nine-game hitting
streak.