St. Louis 5, Milwaukee 1


MILWAUKEE (AP) -- If not for Woody Williams and the Milwaukee
Brewers, the St. Louis Cardinals wouldn't have an outside shot at
making the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

Williams mastered Milwaukee for the second time in a week as
Cardinals beat the Brewers 5-1 Tuesday night, keeping St. Louis
within 3{ games of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central race with
four games left.

Williams (17-9) scattered three hits over seven innings, walking
none and striking out six as the Cardinals improved to 12-3 against

Williams was just as sharp at Miller Park as he was in St. Louis
on Thursday night, when he also scattered three hits over seven
innings in a 13-0 rout of the Brewers.

In three starts against Milwaukee this season, Williams went
3-0, allowing just eight hits and one run in 20 2-3 innings for a
0.44 ERA.

"He's been masterful against everybody," Cardinals manager
Tony La Russa said. "He's meant so much to our club ever since he
joined us (in mid-2001), especially this year.

"We wouldn't be within a smell of the lead if it wasn't for

But Williams looks back at an eight-start stretch from July 31
to Sept. 6 in which he didn't win a game.

"If I'd been pitching like this a month ago, we'd be in better
shape" in the standings, he said. "It's nice being able to bounce

But, like the Cardinals overall, it may just be too late.

Williams gave up a solo homer to Brady Clark, his sixth, on a
2-and-0 pitch in the first inning but then retired the next 11
batters until Wes Helms singled with one out in the fifth.

"He just moves his fastball around, puts the ball where he
wants it, keeps you off-balance with his curveball and changeup,"
Clark said. "He doesn't throw exceptionally hard, but he knows how
to pitch."

Bill Hall's single in the sixth was the only other hit the
Brewers could muster off Williams.

In the second, Eduardo Perez hit a sacrifice fly and Mike
Matheny followed with a two-run homer, his eighth, off Ben Sheets
for a 3-1 St. Louis lead.

The Cardinals made it 5-1 in the third inning on Scott Rolen's
second double, a two-run shot down the left-field line.

Sheets (11-13) allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings,
assuring himself of a second straight losing season.

Sheets has won just one of 10 starts since July.

"That's embarrassing to go out there with good stuff and get
hit. It's like you're a pitching machine out there," he said. "I
ain't missed a bat in a month."

Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said he'll be glad when Wednesday
night comes so he won't have to see St. Louis again until next

"We've played most everybody pretty good," Yost said. "And
for some reason, the Cardinals have just had our number this

Especially Williams.

Game notes
Brewers GM Doug Melvin said the entire coaching staff and
medical and training staffs have been asked to return in 2004. ...
Brewers 1B Richie Sexson is three walks shy of the club record of
99 set by Jeromy Burnitz in 2000. ... Matheny entered the night
with a .325 career batting average against the Brewers, for whom he
played in the 1990s. ... Williams is 9-4 against Milwaukee in his
career, including 5-0 over the last two seasons. ... Albert Pujols
hit his 50th double in the fifth inning, become the first Cardinals
hitter to reach that number since Stan Musial in 1953.<