PHOENIX (AP) -- Tony La Russa gambled and lost on Thursday night,
a rare miscalculation in a dominant St. Louis season.
The Diamondbacks snapped a six-game home losing streak.
With the score tied at 1, John Mabry -- 3-for-4 for the Cardinals
-- led off the ninth with a single, then moved to third on a
sacrifice bunt and groundout. That's when La Russa chose to allow
starter Jason Marquis to bat against reliever Lance Cormier.
"I knew he had a good batting average, but still it's a pitcher
out there," Gonzalez said. "It kind of surprised us all."
Marquis struck out swinging to strand the runner and set the
stage for Gonzalez's heroics.
"Evidently I thought he had a good chance of getting something
positive to happen," La Russa said. "He's been getting a lot of
base hits, and I like a left-hander in that situation. He's a
La Russa brought on Ray King (2-2) to pitch the ninth, and
Gonzalez lofted a 2-2 pitch just over the right field fence for his
12th home run, but just his second off a left-hander.
"A breaking ball down and away," Gonzalez said. "I just hit
it square. For me, with my swing, I don't have to swing hard. I
just have to make good, solid contact."
King thought he threw a good pitch.
"If I was out there playing those guys tomorrow, I'd throw the
same pitch in the same situation," King said. "Every once in a
while you get beat."
Kelly Stinnett gave Arizona its first lead of the series, 1-0,
with a leadoff home run in the third.
Cardinals trainer Barry Weinberg said Molina has a "very small
non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal."
"We'll check him tomorrow for pain and swelling," Weinberg
said. "We'll treat it just like a bruise, and knowing `Yadie' it's
going to be a very, very short time before he returns."
With one out, pinch-runner Hector Luna advanced to third when
David Eckstein singled on a hit-and-run play.
Arizona manager Bob Melvin brought in left-hander Armando
Almanza to pitch to the left-handed batting Jim Edmonds, then La
Russa countered by having the right-handed hitting Albert Pujols
pinch hit. Still, Almanza, in his Diamondbacks debut, got Pujols to
pop out on one pitch.
Jose Valverde relieved Almanza and gave up an RBI single to
Reggie Sanders, then walked Larry Walker to load the bases. Third
baseman Troy Glaus kept the game deadlocked by grabbing Scott
Rolen's sharp line drive to end the inning.
Vargas, in his fifth start and eighth appearance since being
claimed off waivers from Washington, blanked St. Louis on three
hits through seven innings. He ended up going 7 1-3, allowing one
run, striking out six and walking two.
"He made a ton of great pitches and we couldn't get anything
going," La Russa said. "If he doesn't hit the catcher, I'm not
sure we score."
Marquis, winless in his last five starts, gave up one run and
four hits in eight innings.
After Stinnett's third home run of the season in the third,
Vargas singled and went to second on a balk by Marquis. Chad Tracy
walked to put runners at first and second with one out.
But Edmonds made a lunging catch of Gonzalez's deep drive to
center, then Glaus struck out for the second time of the night,
angrily hurling his bat toward the dugout to scattered boos from
Edmonds' grab was one of two big defensive plays for St. Louis.
Shortstop Eckstein robbed Luis Terrero of a bloop single with a
diving catch behind third base in the seventh.
The Cardinals won Wednesday night's game by a 2-1 score.
"With our club, the way we swing, in this ball park, it's
shocking to see 2-1 games being played," Walker said, "but it's
just good pitching."
In Vargas' previous three starts, all victories, Arizona
scored 26 runs. ... Edmonds was shaken up after his big catch but,
after a few minutes to recover, stayed in the game. ... Arizona
snapped a string of eight straight home losses to the Cardinals.