CHICAGO (AP) -- Woody Williams was hitting his spots from the
mound and doing some hitting of his own at the plate.
Williams scattered six hits over 7 2-3 innings. He gave up just
one hit through four and didn't allow a baserunner to reach second
until the seventh.
All in all, not a bad outing for the right-hander.
"Definitely a nice day," Williams said." (To) come out and
win the game and take two of three here, it's very nice for the
The first-place Cardinals have won three of four and dropped the
Cubs to two games back in the NL Central. Chicago has lost nine of
12 to fall out of the division lead.
The Cardinals' victories in the series also came against
Chicago's two young aces, Kerry Wood and Prior. St. Louis beat Wood
11-8 on Friday, knocking around the hard-throwing right-hander for
seven runs, six hits and a season-high six walks.
"As soon as we saw the matchups, we knew we were in for
trouble," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "That's why the
game's so beautiful, you'll never figure it. But both the guys we
beat are legitimate All-Stars."
St. Louis took an early lead in the second when Eduardo Perez
drove a 2-2 pitch from Prior (8-4) over the left-field fence for a
three-run shot, pausing briefly to watch it sail onto the street.
Prior said he threw Perez a curve that didn't bend.
"I had Perez right where I wanted him," Prior said. "If that
thing breaks two inches I can get him out. Unfortunately, it was
just straight and he hit it out."
Perez started at third base for Scott Rolen, who was held out
because of stiffness in his back. Perez came into the game hitting
.291, but had just four homers in 141 at-bats.
"I don't think when he started the game we were looking for a
three-run homer, but he got a breaking ball and he jumped on it,"
La Russa said. "He's a strong guy."
Leading 4-0, Williams gave up a leadoff single to Eric Karros
and an infield single to Damian Miller with one out in the seventh.
Williams ended the threat by getting pinch-hitter Troy O'Leary to
ground out to first, then striking out Mark Grudzielanek to end the
Williams allowed one run, struck out six and did not walk a
batter. Jason Isringhausen got four outs for his third save in
three chances. He gave up a single to Karros that scored Moises
Alou in the eighth.
"Woody, he knows how to pitch. His fastball wasn't as fast, but
he was changing speeds with it," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.
"He knows how to pitch whether he has his great stuff or not."
Williams was one of the top pitchers in baseball over the first
two months of the season, though he's stumbled of late. The
right-hander had allowed five or more runs in four of his last five
starts entering Sunday.
Williams, a .250 hitter, even helped himself with the bat. He
lined a one-out double off the ivy in left-center in the fifth and
scored on Jim Edmonds' single to give the Cardinals a 4-0 lead.
"I take great pride in preparing myself to pitch, to hit, to
run the bases," Williams said.
Prior, second in the NL with 145 strikeouts, struck out the side
in the first inning before command failed him in the second.
After a leadoff single by Tino Martinez, Prior walked Orlando
Palmeiro to set up Perez's home run. Prior then walked catcher Mike
Matheny, but got out of the inning with a strikeout of Williams and
a flyout by Bo Hart.
Prior lasted seven innings, giving up four runs on five hits and
striking out 11. He had allowed three or fewer runs in his last six
Cubs outfielder Corey Patterson left with a sprained left
knee in the eighth after landing awkwardly on first base. He walked
off the field under his own power. ... J.D. Drew, who injured his
right knee Tuesday, was held out of the Cardinals' lineup for the
fifth straight game. ... Prior has gone at least six innings in 17
of 18 starts this season.