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Williams earns fifth straight

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- As a 37-year-old pitcher excelling in a
young man's game, Woody Williams knows most numbers mean very
little. Still, his 100th victory was cause for celebration --
particularly after besting Jason Schmidt and Barry Bonds to get it.

Williams worked 6 1-3 dominant innings for his fifth straight
victory, and Scott Rolen's first-inning homer stood up in the St.
Louis Cardinals' 6-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on
Sunday night.

Both Williams and Schmidt entered the game with 99 wins, but
Williams got to triple digits first, retiring the final 12 hitters
he faced while nursing a one-run lead.

Williams (8-6) allowed five hits and two walks, even getting
Bonds three times. When his teammates tacked on four late runs, and
the Cardinals' bullpen flawlessly finished, Williams had a
highlight in his late-blooming career.

"I never thought I'd be around long enough to win 100 games
with the way things started out and where I've come from," said
Williams, a former reliever who didn't become a full-time starter
until 1997 in Toronto. "For this to come against probably the best
pitcher in the game, it's pretty special."

The right-hander needed 12 seasons to get his 100th victory,
while the 31-year-old Schmidt already is in his 10th season.

But Williams has bloomed in his mid-30's: He has 49 wins in the
last four seasons.

"It's just a number, but I'm very happy, no doubt about it,"
Williams said.

It was Williams' first win over the Giants since July 25, 2000.
The rest of the Cardinals knew the importance of the moment -- and
they doused the pitcher with water after the game.

"He's over the hill, but he can still pitch," said a grinning
Jim Edmonds, who drove in two runs.

"It's hard to win one game in this league," manager Tony La
Russa said. "To get 100, that's a magic number, especially to do
it against a guy like Schmidt."

Williams threw 11 pitches in an entertaining fifth-inning
matchup against Bonds, who sent a foul ball soaring into McCovey
Cove before flying out to deep right.

Schmidt couldn't overcome his early mistake to Rolen, who hit a
two-run shot on the first pitch he saw. St. Louis added the rest of
its runs against San Francisco's bullpen.

Schmidt (13-4) struck out 10 in seven innings, allowing six hits
and two walks while losing his second straight start in San
Francisco.

Mike Matheny and Albert Pujols added run-scoring singles for St.
Louis, which has won each of Williams' last nine starts. Four
months into their best start since 1968, the Cardinals took two of
three from San Francisco to split the season series at three games
apiece.

Schmidt threw 128 pitches, retiring nine straight at one point --
but in the first inning, Rolen hit a belt-high pitch more than 400
feet to center. It was the All-Star's 25th homer of the season and
second in two days.

"It was just two bad pitches," Schmidt said. "Those are the
two I want back. I got burned on them. I was overthrowing. It was
just bad timing on my part."

Schmidt's next start is expected to be Saturday, when Chicago's
Greg Maddux will go for his 300th win in San Francisco.

Ray Durham singled home Neifi Perez in the second for the
Giants' only run. San Francisco scored just once in the final 17
innings of the three-game series.

Bonds put another foul ball into the water in the eighth, but
Ray King got him on a groundout to complete 1 2-3 perfect innings
of relief.

The Cardinals issued no intentional walks to Bonds in the
series. When asked his strategy, La Russa quoted San Francisco
manager Felipe Alou on the subject.

"When (Alou) was with Montreal, he said, 'We're here to be
competitors, not cowards," La Russa said. "In the right
situation, we would have walked him."

Right-hander Merkin Valdez, one of the Giants' top pitching
prospects, made his major league debut in the seventh. His first
pitch was a 97 mph fastball to Pujols, who doubled off the wall and
later scored on Edmonds' single off Scott Eyre.

Game notes
OF Ricky Ledee made an odd debut with the Giants, who
acquired him from Philadelphia on Friday. Ledee was announced as
the pinch-hitter for Schmidt in the seventh -- but the Cardinals
then replaced Williams with LHP King, and Ledee was replaced by
Dustan Mohr. ... Valdez was recalled Saturday to take the roster
spot of RHP Jerome Williams, who went on the disabled list with a
strained muscle in his arm. ... The Cardinals' road record is
better than 28 teams' home record this season. ... Schmidt has
struck out at least 10 in 20 games in his career.