Series: Game 3 of 3

St. Louis won 2-1

Game 1: Friday, September 17
St. Louis4
Game 2: Saturday, September 18
St. Louis7
Game 3: Sunday, September 19
St. Louis2

Diamondbacks 3

(47-103, 22-53 away)

Cardinals 2

(97-51, 51-26 home)

    2:15 PM ET, September 19, 2004

    Busch Stadium I, St. Louis, Missouri 

    123456789 R H E
    ARI 000300000 3 2 2
    STL 002000000 2 8 2

    W: M. Gosling (1-0)

    L: J. Suppan (15-8)

    S: G. Aquino (13)

    Ankiel throws two hitless innings

    ST. LOUIS (AP) -- In Tony La Russa's version of the NL standings, the St. Louis Cardinals still have to win one more game to clinch the Central division title.

    The Cardinals manager refused to acknowledge his team already had clinched the division, both before and after Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    St. Louis ensured its third division title in five seasons on Saturday when the Cardinals beat Arizona 7-0, and San Francisco and the Chicago Cubs both lost.

    Those results guaranteed that St. Louis will finish no worse than tied at 97 wins with the Cubs, who also would be guaranteed a playoff berth. Under baseball's rules, St. Louis would be awarded the Central title because it won the season series 11-8 and Chicago would get the wild-card spot.

    La Russa wants to clinch it on the field. He stormed out of his postgame news conference after angrily responding to a question about delaying the traditional champagne celebration.

    "Yeah, we're celebrating," La Russa barked. "What the hell kind of question is that? That's a rule for the thing when you're tied at the end of the season. We've got another 14 games to go, man."

    The clubhouse was unusually quiet and subdued after the game. The Cardinals start a 10-game trip Monday in Milwaukee.

    "The formula says we clinched, we clinched," pitcher Jason Marquis said. "You've got to be happy about that. But it does seem a little depressed in here."

    Drew Baur, one of the Cardinals' owners, said simply: "No shampoo today."

    Before the game, even though T-shirts commemorating the achievement already were on sale outside the ballpark and public address announcer John Ulett referred to the clinching of a playoff spot, La Russa preferred to ignore the mathematics.

    On the message board just inside the clubhouse door, La Russa wrote: "Magic # Is 1. Championship Won On Field. Not Some Formula!!"

    "It's legitimate," La Russa said before the game. "You don't win things because of a formula, only if it comes down to the fact that you can't do it on the field. We can do it on the field."

    There may be another reason for La Russa's stance. St. Louis finished tied with Houston in 2001, but the Astros won the division based on head-to-head record while the Cardinals won the wild-card berth. Still, St. Louis tried to claim it was division co-champion, a position the commissioner's office rejected.

    Sunday's game was notable mostly for Rick Ankiel's first outing at Busch Stadium since May 10, 2001. Ankiel, who has battled wildness and injury, pitched two hitless innings with one walk and four strikeouts -- striking out the side in the fifth on 14 pitches.

    "Today was fun," Ankiel said. "You take them when you can get them."

    Ankiel's previous home appearance was a mess. He threw five pitches to the backstop in three wild innings, and was optioned to Triple-A Memphis the following day. He then battled control problems in the minors and had reconstructive elbow surgery in July 2003.

    Arizona rookie Michael Gosling, making his fourth major league appearance and second start, won in his first big league decision by allowing two runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings. Four relievers finished, with Greg Aquino working the ninth for his 13th save in 14 chances.

    "It's pretty neat, especially in that environment with 40,000-plus, the Cardinals trying to clinch the division outright and a great place to play," Gosling said. "To have that first win against a team of that caliber is pretty neat, pretty special."

    Cardinals starter Jeff Suppan (15-8) threw 44 pitches in the fourth inning, 39 with two outs. Walks to Shea Hillenbrand and Chris Snyder sandwiched around a single by Chad Tracy loaded the bases, and Doug DeVore's bad-hop infield hit gave Arizona its first run. Scott Hairston followed with a two-run single for a 3-2 lead.

    "I got to the point where I was probably trying to be a little too careful," Suppan said. "I couldn't really get out of a jam until they'd scored a few."

    Larry Walker hit a two-run homer in the third, his 15th of the season and ninth in 32 games with the Cardinals, who have lost seven of their last 12 games. Suppan, whose previous best for wins was 13 last year, has allowed 10 runs -- four earned -- in 7 2-3 innings during his last two starts. Still, he combined with his bullpen on a three-hitter.

    Game notes

    St. Louis won the season series against Arizona 5-1. ... Tony Womack has 37 infield hits, third best in the NL. ... Cardinals 3B Scott Rolen missed his eighth straight start with a strained left calf, but could return in the next few days. ... Diamondbacks LF Doug DeVore turned Albert Pujols' fly ball out into a double play in the first when he threw out Womack at plate. ... Edgar Renteria is in a 2-for-33 slump. ... The Diamondbacks ended a nine-game road losing streak.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press