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Five Cardinals regulars sit in loss

MIAMI (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals aren't quite the same team
with five starters on the bench, as the Florida Marlins were
pleased to discover.

On a 92-degree afternoon, manager Tony La Russa gave most of his
regulars the day off, then watched the Cardinals self-destruct.
Three errors and at least one other defensive lapse helped Florida
win 8-2, ending St. Louis' seven-game winning streak.

A.J. Burnett pitched seven innings and Damion Easley drove in
three runs for the Marlins, who scored four unearned runs and two
others tainted by Cardinals misplays behind Matt Morris.

"Mistakes we normally don't make," Morris said. "Any time you
give another team extra chances, it's easier for them to
capitalize."

The starting time was moved up six hours because of expected
rain associated with Hurricane Charley. With muggy weather and a
12½-game lead in the NL Central, La Russa gave Scott Rolen, Edgar
Renteria, Tony Womack, Reggie Sanders and Mike Matheny the day off.

"I don't believe they would have had that much gas in their
tank to play, so I have no regrets," La Russa said. "We just
didn't support our starting pitcher with the defense we usually
play, and we paid for it."

Burnett (3-5) allowed five hits and two runs, struck out seven
and reached 100 mph at least once on the radar gun. It was perhaps
his best performance since returning in June after reconstructive
elbow surgery forced him to miss the 2003 season.

"I'm extremely happy," Burnett said. "I'm throwing good, and
my arm feels good."

Larry Walker hit his first home run since joining St. Louis last
week, and his seventh of the season. Little else went right for the
Cardinals, who lost for just the sixth time since the All-Star
break.

Their defense was dazzling in the first two games of the series,
but misplays hurt Morris (12-8) beginning in the third. Second
baseman Marlon Anderson failed to cover first when the Cardinals
were expecting a bunt, then made a throwing error later in the
inning, and Florida scored twice to lead 3-1.

Catcher Yadier Molina committed a throwing error and first
baseman Albert Pujols mishandled a grounder to fuel the Marlins'
five-run seventh.

"That doesn't happen very often, especially with the
Cardinals," Easley said. "They're one of the top defensive teams
in baseball."

Morris allowed nine hits and eight runs in six-plus innings, but
only four runs were earned.

Because of the change in the starting time, there were only
about 3,000 fans in the stands when the game began. Rain delayed
play for 42 minutes after the first inning, but sunshine followed.

While the Cardinals' reserves struggled, Easley came off the
bench to spark a team that had been outscored 3-1 in the first two
games of the series. He hit a solo homer in the first for the
Marlins' second run in 30 innings.

"I think it relaxed everyone and got everybody going a little
bit," he said.

Easley's RBI grounder in the third put the Marlins ahead to
stay. He then singled home a run in the seventh to help them avert a
series sweep and snap a three-game losing streak.

Paul Lo Duca went 2-for-2, walked and drove in two runs. He's
13-for-29 (.448) with 10 RBI since joining Florida.

The victory left the Marlins one game below .500 as they begin a
nine-game trip.

"If we want to play in October, we've got to make a move now,"
Easley said.

Game notes
Cardinals RHP Woody Williams, scheduled to start Friday at
Atlanta, is 3-1 in six games against the Braves with an ERA of
2.09. ... Rolen is 0-for-18 against Burnett. His replacement, John
Mabry, had three hits. ... With his homer, Easley ended a 3-for-26
slump.