Cardinals extend NL Central lead to 15 games

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Larry Walker keeps helping the St. Louis
Cardinals win.

Tony Womack scored the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk from
Danny Graves in the eighth inning and Walker hit the next pitch for
a grand slam in a 7-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday

Walker earned his first curtain call with the Cardinals after
his ninth homer of the season. He has three homers with St. Louis
and is batting .370 in nine games.

"I was pushed out of the dugout to get out there, not sure
knowing what to do," Walker said. "It was fun to go out there, it
was fun to win, it was fun to hear the crowd get as loud as they

The NL Central leaders are 13-2 against the Reds this season and
will try to complete a three-game sweep Wednesday. St. Louis has
won 11 of 13 overall and opened a 15-game lead over second-place
Chicago -- the Cardinals' largest advantage since Aug. 10, 1968, a
year they won the NL pennant.

"It's only a matter of time for this ballclub to pull through,
and tonight we pulled through again," starter Matt Morris said.
"Eventually, we're going to do it."

The Walker trade, which sent three minor leaguers to the
Rockies, has further energized a team that already was on a roll.
He's been batting second, an indication of the strength of the

"Hitting in the two hole, grand slams and home runs aren't
really what I'm trying to accomplish," Walker said. "I'm just
trying to stick with my George Brett theory of hitting the ball
hard and if it goes far, great."

Cincinnati led 2-1 in the eighth when Joe Valentine hit Scott
Rolen with a pitch leading off, Edgar Renteria grounded out and Jim
Edmonds greeted Graves (1-5) with an RBI single.

Edmonds took second on the throw home, Reggie Sanders was walked
intentionally and pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson loaded the bases
with a single.

After pinch-hitter John Mabry flied out, Womack walked on five
pitches and Walker followed with his sixth career slam to cap a
six-inning -- it matched the team's high this year.

"I just wanted to throw a strike," Graves said. "You've got
to give yourself a chance, you've got to throw strikes, and you
throw one right down the middle to Larry Walker, he's going to do
that every time."

The Cardinals, who have 37 come-from-behind victories, had been
0-for-7 with runners in scoring position before Edmonds' hit. Reds
rookie Brandon Claussen limited them to one run and five hits in
six innings.

"I was very impressed against a club like that," Reds manager
Dave Miley said.

Cal Eldred (3-0) gave up one hit and struck out two in a
scoreless eighth.

Albert Pujols, who had homered in each of his previous four
games, had a sacrifice fly in the first. He was 1-for-4 and is
10-for-22 with five homers and 12 RBI in his last five games.

Morris allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. Morris
stranded the bases loaded in his final inning, and the Reds left
eight on overall during his stint.

"When you get to the seventh, that was his inning," manager
Tony La Russa said. "The way he rose to the occasion, and our fans
need to pay attention to stuff like that, that's what he's capable
of doing."

Jason LaRue singled, doubled and tripled in four at-bats for the
Reds. He had entered the game in a 3-for-15 slump.

Sean Casey had a run-scoring infield hit in the third, and
Felipe Lopez' fourth-inning RBI single gave the Reds a 2-1 lead.
Then the Cardinals buried them -- again -- in the eighth.

"We're not the only ones, they beat up on everybody," Graves
said. "They've got the best team in baseball in my eyes. That
lineup never ends."

Game notes
Morris threw 127 pitches, most on the staff this season, 78
for strikes. Woody Williams had the previous high with 125 pitches
on June 26 against the Royals. ... Walker was 3-for-4 and is
10-for-27 (.370) with 11 RBI with the Cardinals. ... The Reds have
blown 13 of their last 23 save opportunities. ... The Cardinals
have a seven-game winning streak at home. ... Graves has blown nine
saves in 45 chances. ... The Reds are 22-41 since June 6, when they
led the Central by two games. They're also 9-24 in their last 33
road games.