ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Larry Walker dreaded the cortisone shot to his
ailing neck, the long needle drilling into his spine from a spot
near the collarbone.
He loved the results.
Fortified by the shot two days earlier, Walker returned to the
St. Louis Cardinals' lineup after a five-game absence Wednesday
night and hit two-run homers his first two times up in an 11-3
victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
"It was just good to be back in the lineup after sitting and
watching a lot of the games," Walker said. "I was happy to be out
there and was just fortunate to be able to contribute."
Matt Morris worked seven sharp innings, rebounding from his only
loss of the year after an 8-0 start, to help the Cardinals win for
the fourth time in five games. The NL Central leaders, who also got
homers from Reggie Sanders and Jim Edmonds, are 21-8 against the
Reds since the start of 2004.
At 49-28, they're 21 games above .500 for the second time this
"It was very frustrating and boring sitting on the bench
watching," Walker said. "The bright side, which I always try to
look for, is this is a pretty amazing team."
Cincinnati's Wily Mo Pena hit a home run estimated at 492 feet,
the 10th-longest at Busch Stadium since measuring began in 1988 and
the longest by an opponent. Of the nine longest long balls, Mark
McGwire hit seven and J.D. Drew two.
The Reds have lost four straight after winning their first three
under interim manager Jerry Narron. They've dropped 16 of 18 on the
Shortstop Felipe Lopez committed two errors in the Cardinals'
four-run second, contributing to two unearned runs. In a span of
three batters, Lopez had a wild throw to first on Scott Rolen's
grounder and flipped wide of second base on a would-be forceout on
Yadier Molina's grounder, giving him seven errors in 63 games.
"Felipe has done a great job for us all year," Narron said.
"He'll probably play the rest of his career for us, do an
outstanding job, and never have an inning like that."
Walker, a former NL MVP and three-time batting champion, had
missed the previous five starts with a herniated disc in his neck
that has bothered him much of the year. He had the 30th multihomer
game of his career and second this season, with both homers coming
off Ramon Ortiz (3-6). Walker had no plays in right field before
leaving for a pinch hitter in the seventh.
"If he gets it going, you're talking about a lot of damage
added to our lineup," manager Tony La Russa said. "Watching him
swing yesterday in batting practice you could tell that shot did
him some good."
Entering the game, Walker had been 1-for-6 against Ortiz with
Morris (9-1) gave up two runs and five hits. He had lasted a
season-low three innings in his previous start, against the
Morris has made 17 career appearances against the Reds, all but
two at home. The only scoring off him was Pena's 10th homer, a
two-run drive off the center-field backdrop in the second.
An extra day off allowed Morris to throw a bullpen session and
get back to basics.
"I made a conscious effort to get my sinker going," Morris
said. "I was just trying to extend and get good action on my
sinker and let it work for me, and not try to cut the ball too
much. Get back to my old power game."
For the third time in 13 starts, Ortiz failed to get an out in
the third inning. After beating the Cardinals in his previous
outing in Cincinnati with seven strong innings, Ortiz gave up six
runs -- four earned -- and four hits in a two-inning stint that
matched his shortest this season.
Sanders hit his 17th homer in the fifth off Ricky Stone, and
Edmonds hit his 15th, a three-run shot in the sixth.
Adam Dunn had a ninth-inning sacrifice fly, his first since July
22, 2003, against Milwaukee, a string of 1,086 plate appearances
and 66 opportunities with a runner on third and less than two outs.
"It was better than any home run I've ever hit," a relieved
Cardinals starters lead the major leagues with 44
victories. ... Albert Pujols was 1-for-5, and is 17-for-42 (.405).
... Sanders also doubled and is batting .389 (28-for-72) in his
last 20 starts with seven homers and 17 RBI. He has five homers
and 13 RBI against the Reds. ... The Cardinals have outscored the
opposition 114-74 in the first two innings. ... Pena's homer was
his first since June 17. ... Of Morris' 96 pitches, 71 were