ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Shortly after hitting his 300th career home
run, Jim Edmonds got put in his place.
Former teammate Mark McGwire left a taunting message on Edmonds'
cell phone, reminding him just how far he is from Big Mac's 583."I can't remember the number he said, but I've got a long way
to go," Edmonds said after the St. Louis Cardinals' 5-1 victory
over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night. "And I don't think
I'm going to make it."Jason Marquis won his 11th straight decision and the Cardinals
won their eighth in a row, matching their season high.The NL Central leaders needed only two hits -- tying their season
low -- to beat the NL West-leading Dodgers for the second straight
night. Playing in front of a sellout crowd of 45,692, they tied
their longest winning streak of the season and won for the 13th
time in 15 games.Adrian Beltre had three hits and drove in his 100th run with an
eighth-inning double for the Dodgers to cut the gap to 5-1. He's
only the third third baseman in franchise history to reach the
milestone, joining Ron Cey and Pedro Guerrero.But the Dodgers' first error in seven games was a much bigger
statistic.Center fielder Steve Finley dropped a routine two-out fly ball
by Reggie Sanders with runners on first and third in the sixth,
allowing both to score and make it 5-0. It was only the third error
of the season for Finley, a four-time Gold Glove winner."At the going rate right now, it's been once every five years.
I just missed a ball," Finley said."It happens and I'm not going to be mad at it. It's something
that happened and you probably won't see it happen again for a long
time."Edmonds became the 103rd member of the 300-homer club with a
two-run shot in the second off Kazuhisa Ishii (13-7). It also was
his 40th homer of the season -- giving the Cardinals their first
pair of 40-homer men in franchise history -- and his ninth in 10
games.Albert Pujols, 0-for-2 with two walks, and Beltre are tied for
the NL lead with 43 homers.Edmonds was never a power hitter in the minors, topping out at
nine over five seasons. He's hit 179 in almost five seasons with
the Cardinals, including a career-best 42 in 2000."I never thought I would ever be in this situation," Edmonds
said. "I never thought I would have 50 homers or 100 homers, let
alone 300."Manager Tony La Russa also served to keep Edmonds humble, pinch
hitting Hector Luna for him in the eighth. La Russa said he was
just trying to get Luna an at-bat and get Edmonds a snippet of
rest."You know Tony," Edmonds said. "You just do what he says and
move on."Marquis (14-4) became the fourth Cardinal starter to reach 14
wins and first to win 11 straight since John Tudor accomplished the
feat in 1985. Marquis pitched seven scoreless innings, had a
season-best nine strikeouts and worked out of a bases-loaded,
one-out jam in his final inning by fanning pinch-hitters Robin
Ventura and Milton Bradley.Marquis followed the lead of Matt Morris, who struck out a
season-best 11 in a two-hit, 3-0 victory on Friday.Marquis, who hasn't lost in 17 starts since May 26, allowed
eight hits and walked none. Over his last three starts, he's thrown
17 1-3 scoreless innings, and he also matched his career victory
total prior to 2004, accomplished over parts of three seasons."It's definitely a nice thing and it's definitely fun to be a
part of it," Marquis said. "I said earlier this year: I'll take
wins any which way they come."Scott Rolen added a run-scoring single, giving him an NL-leading
117 RBI, in the three-run sixth.Ishii lasted 5 2-3 innings and surrendered five runs -- three
earned -- on two hits."The only ball hit off him was the home run that Edmonds hit,"
Tracy said. "The only unfortunate thing was there was a walk in
front of it."
The Cardinals' 17-game lead is their largest at this stage
since Sept. 11, 1944, when they led the Pirates by 17 games. ...
St. Louis also won eight in a row from July 2-10. ... Edmonds is
the fifth player to reach 300 homers this year, joining Tino
Martinez, Edgar Martinez, Chipper Jones and Ruben Sierra. ... The
Cardinals have won eight in a row at home. ... Sanders, who had
been 7-for-9 the three previous games, was 0-for-3.