<
>

Rolen's hit in 10th lifts Cards to sixth straight win

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals' rash of extra-inning
games has been very good for Braden Looper's bottom line.

Looper earned his third victory in as many outings in a 2-1,
10-inning victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.

Scott Rolen's RBI single with two outs in the 10th was the
difference but Looper got his team in position to stretch its
winning streak to a season-best six games with two scoreless
innings.

Looper, who had a slow start to the season after offseason
shoulder surgery, has allowed only two hits in five innings during
his mini-winning streak. He struck out two and walked one on
Saturday.

"You feel like nobody can hit you," he said. "Obviously, they
can, but that's what you feel like when you go out there.

"I just try to throw up a zero, and hopefully we score a run."

Albert Pujols hit his NL-leading 31st home run and Jeff Suppan
worked seven strong innings for the Cardinals. St. Louis had three
straight extra-inning victories, totaling 36 innings, before Chris Carpenter's two-hitter in a 5-0 victory on Friday night, so manager
Tony La Russa didn't think his team would get cocky.

"There's a very fine line," La Russa said. "That's why when
you have something going we always encourage our club, you don't
sit around patting yourself on the back because you'll lose that
edge."

J.D. Drew had three hits and an RBI for the Dodgers, who have
been held to three runs in the first three games of the four-game
series. The Dodgers have lost four of five.

"The runs are few and far between and I can't wait to get
through this little storm," manager Grady Little said. "Some of
the guys just haven't been clicking since the All-Star break but it will
happen."

David Eckstein reached on an infield single against Danys Baez
(5-5) with one out in the 10th. The Dodgers had him doubled up when
pinch-hitter John Rodriguez lined out, but shortstop Rafael Furcal
made a bad throw to first, allowing the runner to advance. Furcal
thought his throw deflected off Eckstein.

Pujols was intentionally walked before Rolen blooped a single
into shallow left-center field to drive in the winning run. In any
case, the Dodgers weren't going to let Pujols beat them.

"He commands a lot of respect," Little said.

Adam Wainwright escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the
eighth. After giving up an infield hit to Drew and walking Jeff Kent and Andre Ethier on full counts, Wainwright struck out Cesar Izturis and got Toby Hall to pop out.

Suppan began the second half with perhaps his strongest start of
a spotty season, allowing one run and five hits in seven innings
with a season-high six strikeouts and two walks. Suppan has won
only one of his last nine starts and had a 7.59 ERA in the previous
eight outings.

"I felt good about my outing," Suppan said. "Anytime you help
the team in a win, it's important."

Mark Hendrickson worked 6 2/3 innings in his third and best
start with the Dodgers since coming over in a trade with Tampa Bay,
also giving up one run and five hits. He exited with two outs and
two on in the seventh, and Jonathan Broxton retired Eckstein on a
popup.

Furcal doubled to start the game, extending his hitting streak
to 10 games, and scored from third when left fielder So Taguchi
misjudged Drew's two-out liner, the ball sailing just over his
glove for an RBI double.

Pujols' second homer in three games tied it in the sixth when he
muscled a pitch that was low and away over the wall in left-center.
He also doubled in the first and is 4-for-7 against Hendrickson
with two homers and four RBI.

Hendrickson said he "should have applauded" after Pujols'
homer. "It was a good pitch, and there's not much you can say,"
he said.

Nomar Garciaparra, who carried a 22-game hitting streak into
Friday, is 0-for-7 the last two games for Los Angeles.

Game notes
The Cardinals have homered in a season-best 12 straight
games, two more than their best last season. They've hit 21 in that
span. ... Hendrickson is 0-2 with a 3.57 ERA in three starts for
the Dodgers. ... Cardinals RF Juan Encarnacion made a nice running
catch on Jose Cruz Jr.'s drive to the warning track in right-center
to end the top of the ninth. ... Paid attendance of 46,068 was the
largest crowd in a season full of sellouts at new Busch Stadium,
although there were more than 6,000 no-shows for a game played in
91-degree heat.