Cardinals beat Braves, end seven-game road skid

ATLANTA (AP) -- It's tough to beat the St. Louis Cardinals on the Fourth of July.

Juan Encarnacion hit a two-run homer and the Cardinals ended a seven-game road losing streak, beating Atlanta 6-3 on Tuesday night in a game delayed almost three hours by rain and lightning.

The Cardinals have not lost on July 4 since 1999. The last time the Cardinals had such a long road losing streak, they ended an eight-game skid with a win on July 4, 2001.

Jim Edmonds, who was 2-for-3 with two doubles, said he wasn't aware of the team's streak on the Fourth of July.

"Maybe we'll win again on the fifth," he said.

Play was halted with one out in the top of the sixth inning and the Cardinals leading 5-2. Fans were told minutes before play resumed that the scheduled postgame fireworks had been postponed until after Wednesday night's game.

The announcement drew loud boos from the estimated 10,000 fans who waited through a 2:52 rain delay in the top of the sixth. Paid attendance was 47,514, a sellout.

Braves spokesman Brad Hainje said the team's permit for fireworks expired at midnight and the team was unable to obtain a new permit.

With Cincinnati's 5-2 loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday, the Cardinals increased their lead in the NL Central to two games.

The Cardinals won on the road for the first time since June 15 at Pittsburgh. They had lost 10 of 12 road games, their worst stretch since losing 10 of 11 from Aug. 18-30, 1999.

Overall, the Cardinals had lost 11 of 13 before winning the second game of the three-game series.

"We've still got to keep playing, only play better," said Chris Carpenter (7-4), who earned his first win in four career starts against the Braves. "We haven't been playing the type of baseball we expect to play."

The Braves had been the only team Carpenter had faced and not beaten.

Carpenter gave up a homer to leadoff batter Marcus Giles in the first inning. The only other run he allowed came in the second inning, when Jeff Francoeur managed to score from second as Adam LaRoche became involved in a rundown between first and second on Ryan Langerhans' grounder to second.

Carpenter gave up four hits and two runs in five innings. He walked one, had two strikeouts and did not return after the long rain delay.

"It was unfortunate, because I felt I was struggling a little early on and I felt I was getting in a groove," he said.

Jason Isringhausen recorded the final four outs for his 25th save in 31 opportunities.

Braves starter John Thomson (2-7) returned from the disabled list. Though recovered from the blister on his right middle finger that caused him to be placed on the DL on June 15, he gave up seven hits and five runs in 3 2/3 innings. He walked three and had one strikeout.

"I'd rather have better results, but I'm glad to be back out there," Thomson said. "Something so small, to keep me out for 2 weeks is just real frustrating."

Thomson acknowledged he was "a little bit rusty" but said he hadn't thought of taking a rehab assignment.

"It just never dawned on me," he said.

The Cardinals loaded the bases in the first inning on walks to David Eckstein and Albert Pujols and a single by Chris Duncan before Thomson recorded an out. Scott Rolen hit into a double play scoring a run, and Edmonds followed with his first double.

Yadier Molina led off the second with a double and scored on Aaron Miles' single for a 3-1 lead. Encarnacion's 11th homer in the third drove in Edmonds for a 5-2 lead.

Following the delay, a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter John Rodriguez drove in Yadier Molina, who reached on a double.

Adam Wainwright pitched two scoreless innings for St. Louis
following the rain delay. Braden Looper gave up three straight
singles in the eighth, including Andruw Jones' hit up the middle
that drove in Edgar Renteria.

Game notes
The Braves' streak of 22 innings without issuing a walk
ended when Thomson walked Eckstein to lead off the first. ...
Encarnacion hit his first homer since June 17.