Marquis wins third straight start

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Pitching on 10 days' rest, Jason Marquis was
too much for the Oakland Athletics.

Marquis, who missed his last start due to a sore back, threw
seven sharp innings and hit a two-run double, leading the St. Louis
Cardinals to a 6-2 victory Wednesday night.

  • The Big Strategy: The Athletics' hitters diligently made Cardinals' starter Jason Marquis work; eight of the first nine batters took the first two pitches in their at-bats, and Marquis threw 39 pitches in the first two innings. But then he settled in.

  • The Big Bomb: Jim Edmonds slammed an 0-2 pitch off A's starter Rich Harden -- a 98 mph fastball -- for a solo home run in the second inning.

  • The Big Question: Can Albert Pujols stay healty? The Cards' first baseman returned to the lineup Tuesday and drove in two runs. He then went hitless Wednesday.

  • The Big Result: The Cardinals have now beaten the A's in each of the first two games of the series.
    -- Buster Olney, ESPN The Magazine

    "Coming out I was trying to do a little too much," Marquis
    said. "I was a little anxious to get out there and throw, but I
    was able to settle down."

    Jim Edmonds and Reggie Sanders homered for the Cardinals, who
    have won 12 of 15 to move a season-best 11 games above .500.

    The AL West-leading Athletics were 18-0 against the NL Central
    before losing the first two games of a three-game interleague
    series. They averaged more than 10 runs per game during an
    eight-game winning streak that ended Tuesday.

    But they've run into a team that's also on a roll.

    "Their entire lineup, once they get Mike Matheny back, is going
    to be a tremendous veteran core," Oakland manager Ken Macha said.
    "Those are all guys that are going to give you a solid at-bat
    every time."

    Jermaine Dye and Scott Hatteberg hit back-to-back home runs in
    the sixth for the Athletics, who have lost seven of eight on the

    "They've got good hitters, so the two mistakes he made, the 3-1
    fastball and the 2-2 slider, they hit it out of the park,"
    Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "But they didn't have much
    else to hit."

    Sanders' three-run shot off Arthur Rhodes with two outs in the
    eighth made it a four-run cushion. Rhodes wanted a called strike on
    the previous pitch, on a 2-2 count, and was ejected by plate umpire
    Bruce Dreckman for arguing while Sanders rounded the bases.

    "It always ends up magnified when you throw another pitch and
    it ends up being a three-run home run," Macha said.

    Sanders was sure the 2-2 pitch was low.

    "The ball was down," he said. "I'm quite sure when he looks
    at it on tape he will see that it was down."

    Edgar Renteria was intentionally walked before Sanders came to
    the plate, and the fans were on their feet chanting "Reggie!
    Reggie!" before the homer. La Russa said it was almost as if they
    willed a home run.

    "I love when they do that," Sanders said. "That's a good
    feeling to have an easy name to chant. It makes it easy for them to
    get in that mode."

    Marquis (6-4) held the Athletics to two runs and five hits in
    seven innings. Before the homers, he retired 14 of 15 batters. He
    won his third straight outing.

    Kiko Calero got six outs for his first save.

    Edmonds hit his 14th homer to left-center on an 0-2 pitch from
    Rich Harden (3-4) in the second, and Marquis' opposite-field double
    with two outs made it 3-0.

    "That's always a good feeling," Marquis said. "I've been
    trying to work on my hitting in-between starts and so far it's been
    going pretty good."

    Marquis is batting .241 (7-for-29) with five RBI.

    Harden lasted 6 1-3 innings and gave up three runs on six hits
    with seven strikeouts and two walks, losing for the first time
    since May 18. Four of the hits came in the third; otherwise the
    Cardinals had no runners in scoring position the first six innings.

    "They were sitting on the fastball, and the location was a
    little off," Harden said. "I didn't think they were too bad of
    pitches, so you have to credit them."

    The A's loaded the bases with two outs in the first, but Damian
    Miller flied out.

    Game notes
    The Cardinals are 15-15 at home after a 3-9 start. ... The
    Athletics are 81-49 in interleague play, best in the majors. ...
    Oakland's Marco Scutaro was 0-for-3, ending an 11-game hitting
    streak during which he batted .356 (16-for-45). ... Renteria had
    two singles and is 8-for-15 in his last four games. ... The
    Athletics have hit back-to-back homers three times this season. ...
    Athletics starters were 7-0 with a 3.16 ERA in the previous 16
    games. ... The Athletics plan to place OF Billy McMillon (back) on
    the 15-day DL and recall RHP Justin Lehr, the closer at Triple-A