ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The first five games of a perfect homestand,
the St. Louis Cardinals made winning look easy. In the finale, they
triumphed over adversity.
Closer Jason Isringhausen blew a three-run lead in the ninth
inning, but Reggie Sanders rescued him with a pinch-hit RBI single
in the 11th, giving the Cardinals a three-game sweep of the Los
Angeles Dodgers and their season-best ninth straight overall with a
6-5 victory on Sunday.
Greeting Cards: Reggie Sanders gets kudos after bailing out Jason Isringhausen and keeping St. Louis scorching hot.
"You can't expect them to roll over," starting pitcher Woody
Williams said. "It doesn't matter how we win or who wins, we're
winning."Hector Luna tripled to the center-field wall on the first pitch
from Giovanni Carrara (4-2) and scored when Sanders singled through
a drawn-in infield. The Cardinals were 6-0 on the homestand to
extend their winning streak at Busch Stadium to 10. They've won 14
of 16 overall.Before Sunday, the Cardinals had outscored the opposition 28-8
on the homestand.Sanders, the regular left fielder, is 7-for-13 as a pinch hitter
with seven RBI. When Sanders comes through in that situation,
manager Tony La Russa usually jokes he's not going to start
anymore. Not this time."He's been amazing as a pinch hitter," La Russa said. "But
he'll play tomorrow."Luna is accustomed to coming off the bench, making his first
start in six days. He was 2-for-5 with a two-run single in the
fifth. Fellow reserve John Mabry hit a two-run homer for St. Louis,
which also got three doubles from Jim Edmonds.Trailing 5-2 in the ninth, the Dodgers tied it with three runs
on four hits off Isringhausen. Jayson Werth had a pinch-hit RBI
single and Jose Hernandez had a two-out, two-run double."Base hits," Isringhausen said. "It happens. I felt good out
there, felt strong, but I just left a couple of pitches over the
plate."Ray King (5-2), the fifth St. Louis pitcher, struck out one in a
scoreless 11th.The Cardinals' winning streak is the longest since a 10-game run
in 2001. They hadn't trailed during the streak until Adrian Beltre
hit his NL-leading 44th homer in the second inning Sunday. Mabry
quickly erased the deficit in the home half when he homered off
Jeff Weaver.The NL Central-leading Cardinals swept the West-leading Dodgers
for the first time since June 23-25, 2000, extending their division
lead to 17½ games.It wasn't a perfect day for St. Louis. Larry Walker injured his
right knee when he slipped fielding Jose Hernandez's single in the
fifth and went to the clubhouse. Walker had an MRI exam that
revealed a small bone bruise but no structural damage, and he's
listed as day to day.The Dodgers, who entered with a 4½-game lead in the West, have
lost four of five and were 6-7 on a 13-game trip. Beltre's homer
ended a string of 19 consecutive scoreless innings by Cardinals
starters over the last three games."It's not a fantastic trip but it's not a bad trip, either,"
manager Jim Tracy said. "To come back in the manner which we did
today, I was very pleased."A day after hitting his 300th career homer, Edmonds doubled and
scored in the second, had an RBI double in the third, and doubled
and scored in the fifth. He's batting .400 in his last 33 games to
raise his average to .313.Williams worked seven innings and held the Dodgers to two runs
and five hits, striking out six and not walking a batter. The
Cardinals pitching staff's streak of 32 innings without a walk
ended when Julian Tavarez walked Shawn Green with two outs in the
10th.Weaver lasted six innings, giving up five runs on eight hits. He
lost for the first time since July 25, snapping his five-game
winning streak."Our pitching staff was good the whole series," Beltre said.
"We just didn't swing the bats."
Dodgers SS Cesar Izturis left the game in the fourth due to
stomach irritation. ... Alex Cora was hitless in three at-bats and
is 1-for-24 against Williams. ... The Cardinals have 14 series
sweeps. They have won 11 of their last 12 series and 17 of the last
19 and are a major league-best 38-11 since the All-Star break. ...
Beltre is in second place on the franchise single-season homer
list, breaking a tie with Gary Sheffield (2000) and Duke Snider
(1956). Shawn Green hit a club-record 49 homers in 2001. ... The
Cardinals are 79-2 when leading after eight innings.