Series: Game 3 of 3

St. Louis won 3-0

Game 1: Monday, September 23
Arizona 1Final
St. Louis 13
Game 2: Tuesday, September 24
Arizona 2Final
St. Louis 3
Game 3: Wednesday, September 25
Arizona 1Final
St. Louis 6

Diamondbacks 1

(94-64, 43-38 away)

Cardinals 6

(94-64, 49-28 home)

    1:40 PM ET, September 25, 2002

    Busch Stadium I, St. Louis, Missouri 

    123456789 R H E
    ARI 000001000 1 - -
    STL 00030003 - 6 - -

    W: G. Stephenson (2-5)

    L: C. Schilling (23-7)

    Rolen, Drew lift Cards over Schilling

    ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Two fastballs in bad places Wednesday were the difference between a Curt Schilling gem and another late-season disappointment for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    Scott Rolen

    Scott Rolen is tied for fifth in the National League with 108 RBI.

    Schilling, a 23-game winner, struck out 12 and was flawless except for a lone walk in six of his eight innings. But two-out, three-run home runs by Scott Rolen and J.D. Drew gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 6-1 victory and a sweep of the three-game series that is a likely preview of the first round of the playoffs.

    "With Schilling pitching, I was worried about a no-hitter,'' Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He looked like he was going to no-hit us for a while. But we had just two great swings of the bat.''

    The sweep left the Diamondbacks and Cardinals with identical 94-64 records with four games remaining in the regular season. The record is important because the teams appear destined for a best-of-5, first-round playoff meeting, and the team with the best record gets home-field advantage. If they remain tied, the Cardinals get the nod based on their 4-2 season series record against Arizona. That would mean the first two games and a fifth, if needed, in St. Louis

    The Cardinals have won four in a row, eight of nine, and 18 of their last 21. Arizona has lost a season-worst six straight.

    Garrett Stephenson (2-5) struggled to throw strikes -- walking five and striking out two, but gave up just one hit in five innings. He threw 96 pitches, just 51 of them strikes.

    Stephenson missed most of the past two seasons with injuries, and had been largely ineffective when he did pitch this season, entering the game with a 6.08 ERA. He won 16 games for the Cardinals in 2000 but is uncertain for the playoff roster.

    Schilling (23-7) was making his final start of the regular season. He has 315 strikeouts, second to teammate Randy Johnson's 326, and just 33 walks.

    Schilling was 21-4 on Aug. 21. But over his last seven starts, he is 2-3 and has allowed 28 earned runs in 50 1/3 innings. He gave up a season-worst eight runs in 7 1/3 innings in his previous start, a 9-4 loss at Colorado last Thursday.

    "It's the time of year where you've got to pitch well,'' Schilling said. "They did, we didn't.''

    Arizona manager Bob Brenly had planned to start right hander Armando Reynoso because he wanted to prevent the Cardinals from seeing his two Cy Young candidates -- Schilling and Johnson, also a 23-game winner -- before the postseason. But with home-field advantage at stake and with the San Francisco Giants climbing to within three games of the NL West lead, Brenly went with Schilling.

    He was sharp from the outset, striking out seven of the first nine hitters before Fernando Vina and Eli Marrero singled to start the fourth. Two outs later, Rolen hit a first-pitch fastball just over the left-center field wall. It was his 30th homer and gave him 108 RBI, fifth-most in the National League.

    In the eighth, Mike DiFelice singled and Vina doubled. With two outs, J.D. Drew snapped a 1-for-25 skid with a homer over the right field wall.

    Arizona's lone run came on Matt Williams' home run, his 10th, in the sixth inning off Jeff Fassero.

    Though the Diamondbacks clinched a playoff spot when the Los Angeles Dodgers lost to Colorado Tuesday night, they are struggling to regain momentum. To make matters worse, they're playing the rest of the way without their top power hitter, Luis Gonzalez, lost for the season after separating his shoulder in a 13-1 loss to the Cardinals Monday night. Since then, Arizona has scored three runs in 23 innings.

    "I don't feel we're in trouble,'' Brenly said. "We're frustrated -- we've got to do better than we're doing. But I don't sense any panic.''

    Game notes

    Schilling has won 45 games in his two full seasons in Arizona., most in the major leagues since Baltimore's Jim Palmer won 45 games in 1975-76. But he was 0-2 against St. Louis this season. ... Since a seven-game losing streak that began in late July, St. Louis is 35-13. ... Junior Spivey's line drive in the third inning knocked the glove off of Stephenson's hand, but he scrambled to pick up the ball and throw out the runner.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press