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Cards homer in 18th straight game to bury Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Jeff Weaver was back in comfortable
surroundings. Having Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds hitting home
runs on his behalf made it that much easier to get his first win
with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Edmonds homered for the fourth time in five games, Pujols added
a two-run shot, and the Cardinals tied the longest home run streak
in franchise history at 18 games in a 6-1 victory over the Los
Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night. The NL Central leaders are 4-0
this season when their two All-Stars homer in the same game.

"You've got the best player in the game in the lineup, so
you're bound to score some runs somewhere along the line," Weaver
said of Pujols, who leads the NL with 32 homers. "As a starting
pitcher, you just try to keep the opposing team at bay until the
breakout begins."

Rookie Chris Duncan also homered for the Cardinals, who have won
eight straight against the Dodgers and 14 of the last 18 meetings --
including a four-game sweep last week at St. Louis -- and have won
10 of their last 12 overall.

Weaver (1-1) allowed a run and six hits over 5 2/3 innings in
his second start with the Cardinals, who obtained him from the
Angels in a July 5 trade after Weaver was designated for assignment
to make room on the Angels' roster for his younger brother, Jered Weaver.
The eight-year veteran right-hander spent two seasons with the
Dodgers before becoming a free agent in February.

"Getting to the sixth inning seemed like the 12th for me,"
Weaver said with a laugh. "My last two outings were short stints.
I need to get back to that innings-eater that I usually am and get
to the eighth inning. I'd like to get deeper into the game, but
that's another step down the road.

"I felt a lot better as the game went on and started getting
those groundballs that I'm accustomed to," Weaver added. "So I'll
just take all the good things from tonight and hopefully build on
it. At times, I was throwing a few too many strikes. When I was
ahead in the count, I don't think I threw enough 'chase' pitches.
But that's easily adjustable."

Dodgers right fielder J.D. Drew was not in the starting lineup
because of a bruised right knee, which occurred when he was struck
by Jeff Suppan's pitch his first time up in Friday night's 2-0
loss. He pinch hit with two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth
after Josh Hancock relieved Weaver and lined out to center field
as Los Angeles left the bases loaded for the second time.

The injury-depleted Dodgers are 1-9 since the All-Star break and
have been shut out three times during this stretch, including
Friday night's series opener, when Suppan and two relievers held
them to six hits. They called a players-only meeting after the game
to try to sort everything out.

Aaron Sele (6-4) allowed five runs and six hits over four
innings before he was removed for a pinch hitter. The right-hander,
pitching in sweltering heat that "plummeted" to 92 degrees by
gametime, did not strike out a batter and walked two.

"I was up in the zone, and everything they hit was a hanging
breaking ball," Sele said. "When you're playing a really good
team that's really hot, you've got to make better pitches than
that. Those pitches should have been hit where they were hit."

Pujols put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 with a drive into the
left-field pavilion after a walk to Duncan, extending his hitting
streak to 11 games. The NL's reigning MVP and five-time All-Star
missed 15 games in June because of a strained oblique muscle in his
right side.

The Cardinals, who also went 18 consecutive games with a home
run in April 2000, equaled that streak in the second when Edmonds
tied the score at 1 with his 15th of the season. Duncan made it 6-1
with a leadoff homer in the fifth against Joe Beimel, his sixth
this season and third against Los Angeles.

"We probably talk less about the home run than any team in
baseball," manager Tony La Russa said. "We talk about hard
contact. If you're a guy who's got legitimate power, you make hard
contact and use the whole field. If the home run's in your skill,
fine. If not, we'll take the singles and doubles."

Cardinals utilityman Scott Spiezio started at second base --
exactly a year to the day of his previous start at that position
with Seattle. He was 2-for-2 against Sele, including an RBI double
in the fourth, and is 18-for-36 lifetime against him.

The Dodgers, who have totaled only 16 runs in 10 games since the
break, got their only run during a 20-pitch first inning in which
Weaver gave up singles to three of his first four batters.
Nomar Garciaparra had an RBI single, but Cesar Izturis flied out with the
bases loaded -- one pitch after a walk to Willy Aybar.

Game Notes
The Cardinals have 29 home runs during their current
streak, 14 fewer than their 18-game home run stretch in 2000. ...
Spiezio, an 11-year veteran who signed with the Cardinals in
February, also has started this season at 1B, 3B, LF and as the DH
in five interleague games. ... Sele and Weaver hooked up one other
time this season, on May 19 at Chavez Ravine, when the Dodgers beat
Weaver and the Angels 16-3 with a nine-run sixth inning against
relievers Esteban Yan and J.C. Romero.