PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Tony La Russa got the first of what could be
several champagne showers this season. He can only hope the next
one comes in very late October.
La Russa passed Sparky Anderson to move into third place on the
manager wins list in the St. Louis Cardinals' 6-3 victory over the
Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night, helped along by Jim Edmonds
and Albert Pujols homers in the first inning.
The Pirates have lost 10 of 13 to the Cardinals, accelerating La
Russa's climb during a season in which he has passed some of
baseball's all-time best -- Anderson, Bucky Harris and Joe McCarthy.
Afterward, La Russa had a surprise visitor: former White Sox
general manager Roland Hemond, who hired him for his first big
league job during the 1979 season. Hemond and Jim Leyland, who was
on La Russa's White Sox staff when La Russa was hired as
Pittsburgh's manager in 1985, joined the Cardinals players in
dousing La Russa with champagne.
"I've always felt it's not personal, it's organizational and
being in the right place at the right time," said La Russa, who
won his only World Series with Oakland in 1989, though he got the
Cardinals there last season before losing to Boston. "But tonight
I'm going to take a little personal tour. It was a very emotional
La Russa's victory No. 2,195 -- he trails only Connie Mack
(3,731) and John McGraw (2,763) -- was Matt Morris' 101st in the
majors, and it came in the home away from home for both the
Cardinals and the right-hander. The Cardinals' 30 victories at
5-year-old PNC Park are the most of any opponent. St. Louis has won
17 of its last 20 in Pittsburgh, including three of four in this
"I don't know if too many guys really understand it," Edmonds
said of La Russa's accomplishment. "The two guys ahead of him
obviously managed for a long time, so it's a nice milestone.
Hopefully he can manage five or six more years and get to be
second. I don't think anybody's going to catch Connie Mack."
"We had to get a win for him to celebrate," Pujols said. "I'm
very sure before he retires he's going to shoot for that No. 1
record, because he always wants to be on top."
To overtake Mack, the 60-year-old La Russa would have to manage
until he's 81 or 82.
Morris (14-5) has more wins in Pittsburgh than some of the
Pirates' own pitchers, going 6-0 in seven starts there and 2-0 this
season. He lasted seven innings despite allowing two runs and nine
hits, stranding five runners from the fifth through the seventh
innings and seven overall.
Pujols and Edmonds clearly like playing in Pittsburgh, too.
Pujols' 35th homer of the season followed four pitches after
Edmonds' 22nd to put the Cardinals up 2-0 against Dave Williams
Pujols' homer was his 16th at PNC -- an average of more than
three per season and by far by most of any opposing player, while
Edmonds' was his ninth there. Pujols, who went 3-for-4 and reached
base four times, has 25 homers in 295 career at-bats against
Manager Lloyd McClendon didn't like Williams' pitch selection in
the first, which led to him allowing his 19th and 20th homers, too
many for a control pitcher who doesn't have an overpowering
"It's not hard to explain, it's hard to accept," McClendon
said. "When you're a finesse pitcher, you can't pitch in the
middle of the plate."
The Pirates, losing their fifth in six games, got a run back in
the first on rookie Chris Duffy's triple and Freddy Sanchez's
groundout. But Pujols singled in the fifth for his third hit, all
off Williams, and scored on John Rodriguez's two-out single. Yadier
Molina, who had doubled one batter before, was thrown out at the
plate on the play by center fielder Duffy.
Molina isn't ready to say goodbye yet to the Pirates, either,
going 21-of-50 (.420) against them with three homers and 14 RBI in
13 games. He followed Edmonds' RBI double off Williams in the
seventh with a run-scoring single, making it 5-2, and So Taguchi
had a run-scoring single in the ninth.
Edmonds also played a pivotal role with his glove. The Pirates
had threatened by loading the bases in the fifth against Morris,
but Edmonds ran down Jason Bay's drive to deep center. An inning
later, Ty Wigginton singled in a run with his third hit, but
Edmonds prevented any further scoring with a sliding catch of Jack
Wilson's line drive into the right-center gap with two outs and a
"If he's not the best center fielder in baseball, he's tied for
it," McClendon said.
Pittsburgh made it 5-3 in the eighth on Wilson's RBI single off
Julian Tavarez, the second of three Cardinals pitchers in the
inning, but closer Jason Isringhausen struck out rookie Nate
McLouth looking with runners on first and third. Isringhausen
finished up in the ninth for his 34th save in 37 opportunities.
Morris has a 2.65 career ERA in Pittsburgh. ... Pujols
started the series 0-for-7, but is hitting .353 (18-of-51) against
Pittsburgh this season. ... Morris had been 2-3 with a 5.53 ERA
since the All-Star break. ... St. Louis is 40-22 on the road, a
better record than all but two NL teams (Atlanta and Houston) have