Scott Rolen homered twice, including a tiebreaking two-run drive
in the ninth inning, as the Cardinals beat the Colorado Rockies 8-5
Wednesday night and cut their magic number to four. St. Louis had five homers and three doubles, remaining 7½ games
ahead of second-place Houston in the NL Central. ''We need to win ballgames, and this was a big win for us,''
Rolen said. ''It's in our hands right now, and we need to keep it
in our hands. Rolen's second homer, his 27th, triggered a five-run ninth. ''He was huge,'' Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. ''When
Scott was in Philadelphia, he was an outstanding All-Star, an
all-around player. He's been that his whole career. He is a
Cardinal now, and this was clutch. ''We're taking care of business here. You don't worry about what
the other club is doing. We are in first place, and we are in
charge.'' St. Louis had only three hits -- all solo homers -- until the
ninth. Jim Edmonds led off with a walk off Justin Speier (5-1),
Rolen homered and pinch-hitter Ivan Cruz followed with a solo shot,
the second time the Cardinals hit consecutive homers in the game. Edgar Renteria doubled and scored on Mike Matheny's double, and
Fernando Vina added a run-scoring double. ''We are playing hard, we just are not matching up well late,''
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. The game drew 25,330, the lowest crowd in the 10-season history
of the Rockies. The game was delayed 1 hour, 19 minutes by rain in
the top of the third and it was played in 50-degree temperatures. Ben Petrick had two solo homers and a double for the Rockies.
Pinch-hitter Ross Gload also hit a bases-empty homer. Rolen had his second multihomer game this season -- his first
with the Cardinals -- and the 12th of his career. Tino Martinez and
Renteria hit solo shots for the Cardinals. Rick White (4-6) pitched a scoreless eighth, and Steve Kline
finished for his sixth save. Colorado's Denny Stark allowed three runs and three hits in six
innings. Andy Benes gave up one run and six hits in six innings. Since
returning from the disabled list on July 16, he is 5-2 with a 2.15
ERA. Petrick homered in the first, but Benes escaped a bases-loaded
jam when Gary Bennett flied out. Martinez and Renteria hit consecutive homers in the second, the
sixth time this season the Cardinals have gone back-to-back. It was
Martinez's 20th homer and Renteria's 11th, and it was Renteria's
76th RBI, matching a career high. Rolen's homer made it 3-1 in the
fourth. Colorado tied it in the seventh on a solo homer by Gload -- off
Gabe Molina -- and Petrick's second shot -- off Jeff Fassero. Petrick drew a bases loaded walk off Dave Veres in the ninth,
and another run scored on Todd Helton's double-play grounder.
Cardinals 2B Fernando Vina, who was not with the team on
Tuesday while attending to private business in California, rejoined
the squad. ... Rockies LHP Mike Hampton will miss his second
straight start on Friday because of a strained ligament in his
right foot. ... RHP Aaron Cook, one of the Rockies' top prospects,
will be shut down the rest of this season. Cook has pitched a
combined 195 innings in Double-A, Triple-A and with the Rockies.
... Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight, a friend of Cardinals
manager Tony La Russa, was in the St. Louis dugout before the game.
... As the grounds crew put the tarp on the field in the third
inning, one crew member got caught underneath. The crowd cheered as
his indentation could be seen scurrying for an opening. He was
unhurt but lost his cap.