Suppan allows four hits through the 8th

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Midway through the season, Jeff Suppan and the
St. Louis Cardinals are peaking.

Suppan pitched four-hit ball into the eighth and Jim Edmonds
threw out a runner at the plate in the fourth, helping the
Cardinals beat the Seattle Mariners 2-1 Sunday to complete a
three-game sweep.

"I can't take anything away from him or the Cardinals,"
Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. "If they aren't the best team in
the National League, I don't know who is."

The NL Central-leading Cardinals have swept five three-game
series, including two of the last three, and this one came after
they lost three in a row at Pittsburgh. They finished 11-1 in
interleague play, the best in the majors in the eight years that
the AL and NL have been playing, edging a 16-2 record by the
Oakland A's in 2002.

Manager Tony La Russa credited preparation by pitching coach
Dave Duncan and bullpen coach Marty Mason.

"It requires a lot of extra work for just three games," La
Russa said. "We had good information for our pitchers and catchers
and they executed."

Randy Winn had an RBI double in the eighth off Ray King for the
Mariners, who have been swept five times and have lost 10 of 13.
Seattle was outscored 21-4 in the series.

Scott Rolen and Reggie Sanders drove in a run apiece in a
two-run sixth against Joel Pineiro (4-9) that snapped a scoreless
tie. Rolen leads the majors with 78 RBI.

Edmonds, who returned to center field Saturday after a week-long
absence due to a groin injury, made the defensive play of the game
to end the fourth. He charged the ball on Jolbert Cabrera's two-out
single and threw to the plate on the fly, catching Bret Boone
trying to score from second by about two steps.

"I've said it before, there isn't anybody in either league that
throws with more strength and accuracy than Jim Edmonds," La Russa
said. "He throws a beautiful ball, and then you've got one of the
toughest guys behind the plate."

Catcher Mike Matheny absorbed a collision from Boone, hanging on
to the ball.

Suppan (7-5) departed after walking pinch-hitter Dave Hansen
with one out in the eighth. After King got an out, Winn hit a drive
to the gap, which left fielder So Taguchi, a defensive replacement
in the seventh, got his glove on but could not hold on to the ball.

Suppan matched a season high with seven strikeouts and walked
two. The Mariners got runners into scoring position only twice on
Pineiro's one-out double in the third and Boone's leadoff double in
the fourth.

"You've got to go out there and keep your team in the game,"
said Suppan, who in his last two starts has given up two runs on
six hits in 15 1-3 innings. "It's a matter of trying to throw a
zero up there and keeping guys off base, and building on it from
start to start."

Suppan entered the game 1-4 with a 7.59 ERA against the
Mariners. He's 5-0 with an NL-leading 1.93 ERA on the road, but won
for only the second time in seven decisions at home.

Pineiro, 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in his previous four starts, lasted
seven innings and gave up two runs on six hits with three
strikeouts and three walks. His only trouble came in the sixth when
Albert Pujols and Rolen started the inning with doubles to break
the scoreless tie.

"It was great pitching all around," Pineiro said. "He
outpitched me by one run."

Rolen went to third on a groundout and scored on Sanders'
sacrifice fly.

Jason Isringhausen got the last four outs for 18th save in 22
chances and first in eight days. He's pitched in only two games
since then.

Game notes
Edgar Martinez was 16-for-31 against Suppan with two homers
and five doubles before grounding into an inning-ending force play
as a pinch hitter to end the seventh. "Getting him out right there
was huge," Suppan said. ... Edgar Renteria was 0-for-4, ending a
10-game hitting streak. ... The Cardinals have won 10 consecutive
home series, dating to April. ... The Cardinals reached the halfway
point with a 49-32 record. In their last seven playoff seasons,
they've been in first place four times and second place twice at
this juncture. ... The Mariners were 0-for-15 with runners in
scoring position the last two games before Winn's hit.