Series: Game 2 of 3

St. Louis leads 2-0 (as of 6/16)

Game 1: Tuesday, June 15
St. Louis8
Game 2: Wednesday, June 16
St. Louis6
Game 3: Thursday, June 17
St. Louis5

Athletics 2

(37-26, 14-16 away)

Cardinals 6

(38-27, 15-15 home)

8:10 PM ET, June 16, 2004

Busch Stadium I, St. Louis, Missouri 

123456789 R H E
OAK 000002000 2 6 0
STL 03000003 - 6 10 0

W: J. Marquis (6-4)

L: R. Harden (3-4)

S: K. Calero (1)

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 Series
  • The Big Stakes: Two streaking first place teams went at it; Oakland (37-26) leads the AL West, St. Louis (38-27) heads the NL Central.

    Jason Marquis

  • 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 road.

    "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 Sacramento.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press