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Miller time for Cardinals, who sweep in Milwaukee again

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Ben Sheets was pitching too well for his own
good.

With Sheets having thrown just 65 pitches against St. Louis on
Wednesday, Milwaukee manager Ned Yost chose not to pinch hit for
his ace when the Brewers -- trailing by a run -- had runners at the
corners with one out in the seventh inning.

The strategy backfired as the Brewers failed to score.

That paved the way for St. Louis' 3-0 win behind Jeff Suppan's
stellar performance that gave the Cardinals their second straight
three-game sweep at Miller Park.

"The way I was throwing the ball, I felt that it made a lot of
sense," said Sheets, whose sacrifice bunt put runners at second
and third before Chris Magruder flied out to end the inning. "If
we get a base hit after, it's the greatest move ever."

Sheets (8-8) gave up two earned runs and five hits in his second
complete game of the season. He struck out nine and didn't walk a
batter.

Yost wouldn't second-guess himself for not pinch-hitting Wes
Helms or Russell Branyan for Sheets even though the Cardinals
couldn't have countered the move because they had nobody up in
their bullpen.

"If the situation would have gotten right, we probably would
have squeezed but the first pitch he threw for a strike, and Benny
bunted it," Yost said. "We're still OK. Because we've still got
runners at second and third, a chance to take the lead and then
still have Benny out there throwing as good as he was."

Yost acknowledged it was a risky move.

"But it's rolling the dice the other way, too, because Suppan's
a groundball pitcher," Yost said. "The way they play, a ground
ball's a double play. You don't get anything out of that. Suppan's
painting the corners in those situations, so you're kind of in a
Catch-22 right there."

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa called it sound strategy.

"I was hoping they'd pinch hit for him. But he didn't, and
quite frankly, I wouldn't have, either," La Russa said. "He was
so efficient with his pitches."

So was Suppan (11-8), who allowed four hits and four walks over
seven innings as the Cardinals improved to 10-3 against Milwaukee
this year.

"I had no idea 'Supe' was going to pitch that well, but I had a
feeling Sheets was going to pitch that well," La Russa said.

That's why La Russa had his No. 3 hitter lay down a squeeze bunt
in the first inning.

Sheets made just two mistakes, and both came against David
Eckstein. The Cardinals' leadoff man opened the game with a double,
took third on John Rodriguez's sacrifice bunt and scored on a
squeeze bunt by So Taguchi.

"I don't think anybody sensed that [coming]," Sheets said of
the first-inning squeeze.

Sheets retired 19 straight batters before Taguchi hit a single
with one out in the seventh. Eckstein added a two-run double off
Sheets in the eighth.

Bill Hall led off the bottom of the seventh with a double and
took third on Damian Miller's groundout. J.J. Hardy drew a walk,
bringing up Sheets to the surprise of many.

Sheets said he didn't hold up his end of the deal by allowing
Eckstein's two-run single the next inning.

"We were down one and a big base hit away from being up 2-1.
I've just got to go out and throw up another zero if he's going to
let me hit right there," Sheets said. "I can't give them two the
next inning."

Jason Isringhausen closed out St. Louis' eighth straight win at
Miller Park, including six this year, pitching the ninth for his
31st save in 34 chances.

Milwaukee's Brady Clark left the game after bruising his right
rib cage trying to break up a double play in the third inning.
Clark slid hard into second baseman Hector Luna.

Game notes
Clark, who leads the NL with 45 multi-hit games and ranks
second with 147 hits, was replaced by Magruder. The team said Clark
was day to day. ... The Cardinals optioned rookie RHP Anthony Reyes
back to Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday just hours after his major
league debut, a 5-2 win over the Brewers. The Cardinals also
recalled outfielder Skip Schumaker from Memphis, where he was
batting .296.