KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The bottom of the St. Louis batting
order decided it was time to carry Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen
for a change.
Mike Matheny, Reggie Sanders, Hector Luna and So Taguchi
combined for nine RBI on Sunday in a 10-3 victory that gave the
surging Cardinals their first sweep in Kansas City."That's huge," said Matheny, who had four RBI and two of the
Cardinals' 15 singles. "It's nice to have someone else doing it
instead of relying on those guys too much."Rolen and Edgar Renteria each had three hits and scored three
runs. The Cardinals' fifth straight win pushed them a season-high
17 games over .500 and five games ahead in the NL Central.They've won 13 of their last 17 on the road and are 8-1 in
interleague games against Kansas City, Texas and Oakland."I have to say so far this year, it is the best ballclub we
have faced," Royals manager Tony Pena said. "A real good
offensive ballclub. They just knocked us around. It's very
simple."Sanders beamed when told of Pena's remarks."Oh, wow! That's very good to hear," he said. "We're all
focused. We're all working hard. But it's still a long grind."The fading Royals lost their fourth in a row and dropped a
season-low 16 games under .500. They have been swept seven times
and are winless since trading star center fielder Carlos Beltran to
Houston on Thursday.They also got bad news about injured closer Jeremy Affeldt, who
could miss two months with partially torn muscles in his rib cage.
He was hurt on Saturday."It's tough. It's a tough break for Jeremy and a tough break
for our ballclub," Pena said.Rolen was 3-for-4 with an RBI single in the eighth. He also
triggered a roar from the crowd in the eighth when he knocked both
shortstop Angel Berroa and second baseman Tony Graffanino to the
ground while trying to break up a double play.The 240-pound Rolen, who managed to keep his feet while sending
the Royals sprawling, had been hit by a pitch in the third and
nearly hit on a pickoff attempt at first."He was an aggravated player at that point," Cardinals manager
Tony La Russa said.Jason Marquis (7-4) labored through five innings for his sixth
win in eight starts. Working out of bases-loaded jams in the first
and fifth, he was charged with three runs on seven hits, with one
walk and four strikeouts.The Cardinals scored three times off Jimmy Gobble (4-5) in the
third on Matheny's two-run single and a sacrifice fly by Taguchi.
Sanders and Luna each had an RBI single in the third."They made quality swings on what I thought were quality
pitches," said Gobble, who gave up eight hits and seven runs in 4
1-3 innings. "You just have to tip your hat to them."Matheny's two-run single keyed a four-run fifth for the
Cardinals, who also got an RBI grounder from Taguchi and a
run-scoring single by Sanders."We're playing good Cardinals baseball, the kind of baseball
this organization has stressed for 100 years. I hope that's true
come October," La Russa said.The Royals loaded the bases with none out in the fourth. Dee
Brown's sacrifice fly brought in one run, and another scored when
shortstop Renteria bobbled Alberto Castillo's grounder for an
error. Graffanino's RBI single made it 5-3.The Royals failed to score after loading the bases in the first
and fifth, and they stranded 10 runners. In a 3-1 loss Saturday
night, they stranded 12.
Rain caused a 59-minute delay before the start of the game.
... The Royals have used five catchers in seven games since Benito
Santiago went on the disabled list with a broken hand. ... The
Royals recalled RHP Justin Huisman from Triple-A Omaha to take
Affeldt's place. ... Royals bench coach Bob Scheafer was ejected by
plate umpire Jim Reynolds in the fourth. ... Royals DH Ken Harvey
was hit by a pitch in the first inning and replaced by Joe Randa
when he next batted in the third. Pena said it was not serious. ...
The Cardinals' June record of 18-6 is their best June since going
20-7 in 1993.