D-Backs break out late to take 3-of-4 from Cards

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona manager Bob Melvin knew Tony Clark had
raked St. Louis pitcher Jorge Sosa over the years.

Going into Sunday, Clark was 6-for-7 with four home runs off
Sosa. So imagine Melvin's surprise when the Cardinals allowed Sosa
to face Clark, a pinch-hitter, with the game tied in the eighth

"I know that's my match-up there," Melvin said.

Clark drilled Sosa's first pitch into the pool area in right
field to help lead the Diamondbacks to a 9-7 victory over the NL
Central leaders, who dropped their third straight game.

That left Clark 7-for-8 with five home runs against Sosa.

"Just video-game numbers," Melvin said.

Eric Byrnes belted Sosa's next pitch into the left field seats
to provide an insurance run.

Luis Gonzalez tied a career high with four hits, including his
544th career double, which gave him sole possession of 20th place
on the all-time list.

Jose Valverde pitched the ninth inning for his 15th save in 18
chances, retiring Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Scott Spiezio
after putting the potential tying runs on base. It was the first
save since May 24 for Valverde, who was demoted to Triple-A Tucson
after faltering in midseason.

Pujols had three hits, including his 45th home run. Pujols'
homer, a 440-foot shot down the left field line, came off Arizona
starter Enrique Gonzalez and put the Cardinals ahead 5-4 in the
fifth inning.

It was an ugly loss for the Cardinals, who saw their lead over
Cincinnati dwindle to 4½ games with 20 to play. St. Louis committed
three errors and blew a 7-4 lead in the seventh inning. And manager
Tony LaRussa was ejected by home plate Fieldin Culbreth for arguing
balls and strikes in the fourth inning.

"We always go into the game trying to identify the [strike]
zone and trying to make the adjustment," said LaRussa, who was
ejected for the first time. "If its wide, we go wide. If it is
narrow, its narrow. We had trouble identifying the zone, thats what
I talked about and I went too far with it and he banged me."

As bad as they played, the Cardinals might have escaped with a
split of the four-game series had it not been for Clark. Sosa
(3-11) had retired the first two batters in the eighth when Melvin
sent Clark up to hit for Luis Vizcaino (4-4).

Gonzalez said "everyone" in the Diamondback dugout knew
Clark's numbers against Sosa. The Diamondbacks were hoping the
Cardinals wouldn't make a pitching change.

"It's unbelievable when you look at something like that,"
Gonzalez said. "The pitcher's got to know it too, so you would
think that maybe he'd bounce one or something just to give him a
different look. But he threw that first one right down the middle
and Tony let him know. He jumped all over it."

Asked if he knew why he had hit Sosa so well, Clark shook his
head. "And to be honest with you, I'm not planning on trying to
figure it out," Clark said.

Through an interpreter, Sosa said he was trying to throw a
fastball inside. "I wasn't thinking out there, just trying to make
a good pitch, obviously I didn't make a good pitch and he made me
pay," Sosa said.

It was Clark's sixth home run and his second pinch homer of the

This has been a disappointing year for the 34-year-old Clark,
whose production diminished after a superb 2005 season. The
switch-hitter batted .304 with 30 homers and 87 RBI in 130 games,
and club rewarded him with a two-year contract extension last

But Clark has struggled to regain that form this season. First
he was pushed out of the line-up by Conor Jackson, and then he
missed 36 games with a shoulder injury. Clark came into Sunday
hitting .194 with far more strikeouts (38) than hits (25).

Facing Sosa helped Clark regain his clutch form.

"This game works in funny ways sometimes," Clark said.

Game notes
Arizona SS Stephen Drew stole home as the Cardinals tried
to throw Eric Byrnes out at second base. It was first steal of home
by a Diamondbacks player since Gonzalez did it Sept. 25, 1999 at
San Francisco.