Klesko drives in winning run vs. Cards

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The San Diego Padres kept alive their slim
playoff hopes with a rare win against baseball's best team.

Ryan Klesko singled in the go-ahead run with none out in the
eighth inning and the Padres beat St. Louis 7-3 Monday night,
ending the Cardinals' nine-game winning streak.

"We know we can beat anybody when we're playing well," Klesko
said. "We've just got to get back to playing like we were

The Padres won for just the second time in seven games, a
stretch that included three losses at St. Louis last week. San
Diego remained 2 games behind the Chicago Cubs in the tight
wild-card race, with San Francisco and Houston also ahead of the

The Cardinals lead the Cubs by 16 games in the NL Central.

The Padres are trying for their first postseason berth since
1998, when they made it to the World Series before being swept by
the New York Yankees. They beat the Cardinals for just the seventh
time in 40 games since the start of the 1999 season.

With the score tied at 3 and the bases loaded in the eighth,
Klesko hit a chopper over the head of first baseman Albert Pujols
to score Ramon Vazquez, who started for the second straight game in
place of injured second baseman Mark Loretta.

The Padres quickly blew it open against reliever Cal Eldred.
Khalil Greene followed with a sacrifice fly, Terrence Long had a
pinch-hit RBI single and another run scored on the play on a
throwing error by Pujols.

"We can't afford to have the Cardinals come in and sweep us,"
Klesko said. "We need to get our confidence back. This is a big
boost to go out there and beat a team that swept the Dodgers, and
us before that, and one of their best pitchers.

"We've got to go out and do it again tomorrow, and the next day
and the next day."

Vazquez started the winning rally with his third hit, a leadoff
single to left off Eldred (3-1), who relieved Chris Carpenter to
start the inning. Brian Giles singled to center, and both runners
advanced on a wild pitch to Phil Nevin, who walked to load the

Reliever Scott Linebrink (7-1) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the

Trevor Hoffman came on in the ninth with runners on first and
third and none out but retired the side to record his 35th save in
39 opportunities.

Giles hit a two-run double off Carpenter to highlight the
three-run fifth and give the Padres a 3-2 lead.

All three runs were unearned after third baseman Scott Rolen's
two-base throwing error on Ramon Hernandez's one-out grounder.
Hernandez took third on a wild pitch and, after Sean Burroughs was
hit by a pitch, scored on Vazquez's single to right. Giles then
doubled into the gap in right-center.

"Scott made a rare error," manager Tony La Russa said. "But
they got two-out hits by Vazquez and Giles, so I give them

Said Carpenter: "I have to get out of that inning. If I can
make a pitch and get out of it, it's a different ballgame."

The Cardinals tied it at 3 on Edgar Renteria's single in the
sixth. The Cardinals had taken a 2-0 lead in the second on RBI
singles by Renteria and Mike Matheny, off Adam Eaton.

Eaton allowed two baserunners with two outs in the seventh and
made way for Linebrink, who got Pujols to ground out.

Carpenter, trying for his 15th win, left after seven innings
with the score tied at 3. He allowed no earned runs on five hits,
struck out five and walked none.

Eaton allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings, struck
out four and walked four.

Game notes
Cardinals RF Larry Walker is expected to miss all of this
series because of his sprained right knee. The Cardinals are off
Thursday, and Walker might return on Friday at Los Angeles. Roger
Cedeno started in right against San Diego on Monday night. ... In
their first season at Petco Park, the Padres set a single-season
attendance record of 2,586,102. The old record was 2,555,901 in
their World Series season of 1998. ... Carpenter had a 0.64 ERA in
two starts against San Diego this season.