Drew homer helps derail Cubs

Saturday, May 17, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- Ignoring a sore knee and ailing back, J.D. Drew hit one of the longest home runs ever at Busch Stadium.

Drew's mammoth two-run shot off the top of the right-field video board helped the Cardinals end the Chicago Cubs' five-game winning streak with a 7-4 victory Friday night.

"It feels good to hit them like that," Drew said. "You never know where they're going to end up and it doesn't really matter once they go over, but it makes it interesting for everybody else, I guess."

Woody Williams (5-0) went eight innings for the Cardinals, who won for only the third time in 10 games. But they're 9-1 the last two seasons at home against the Cubs.

Chicago manager Dusty Baker let starter Matt Clement (2-5) bat in the sixth with runners at the corners even though he'd thrown 96 pitches and was trailing 5-4 -- Cubs relievers threw 10 innings in a 17-inning victory over the Brewers on Thursday.

Clement gave up a two-run single to Fernando Vina in the bottom of the sixth, and the Cardinals held on in the opener of a four-game series. Vina was 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored.

"I needed some innings or else I'm doomed for tomorrow and the next day and the next day," Baker said. "Really, I had only two semi-fresh guys out there in (Mike) Remlinger and the kid, (Matt) Wellemeyer."

Drew missed the previous two games with a sore back. His third homer off a belt-high fastball from Clement in the fifth was estimated at 514 feet, the fourth-longest at Busch Stadium since the team began estimating homers in 1988. It's the longest homer hit to right field in that time, and it put the Cardinals ahead 5-3.

"I could give a care less where it hit," Clement said. "No, I didn't watch it. It's still a home run if he hits it out of the stadium.

"You know, good for him if that's the longest home run he's hit."

Drew, who missed the first three weeks of the season recovering from patella tendon surgery, has eight RBIs in limited action and hasn't been able to play on consecutive days.

"I'm a ways away, I think," Drew said. "It's just a matter of continuing to push and hopefully the knee reacts well and everything goes good."

Williams overcame a shaky start to become the NL's sixth five-game winner, allowing four runs on nine hits with six strikeouts. He walked three and hit a batter in the first two innings, leading to two runs.

"Early on I didn't even know where it was going," Williams said. "It wasn't good pretty much all the time and I'm fortunate to get through this."

Williams is 8-0 in his last 12 starts since losing Aug. 29 last season against Cincinnati. Cal Eldred worked a perfect ninth for his second career save in two days.

"That's outstanding pitching," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "It's whole new territory for him."

Moises Alou hit an RBI single in the first, Mark Grudzielanek had a run-scoring groundout in the second, Troy O'Leary hit an RBI double in the fifth and Corey Patterson added a run-scoring single in the sixth for Chicago.

Clement escaped what would have been a career-worst outing against the Cardinals last Sunday at a rainy and extremely windy Wrigley Field, giving up 11 runs in 3 2-3 innings in a game that was postponed in the fifth inning. This time around he lasted six innings and gave up seven runs, six earned, on eight hits, and hit three batters.

Clement has lost his last four starts, allowing 18 earned runs in 25 innings.

Notes: The longest homer at Busch was a 545-foot shot to straightaway center by Mark McGwire on May 16, 1998, against Livan Hernandez. ... The Cardinals have been hit by a pitch an NL-high 25 times, including eight times for Vina and five for Tino Martinez. ... Cardinals 3B Scott Rolen doubled in the fifth and is 14-for-33 with three homers during a 10-game hitting streak. ... Williams entered with a major league-best 0.87 ERA at home. He's one of three unbeaten pitchers in the majors with at least four victories. ... Drew homered off his likeness on the video board April 12, 2002, against Houston's Wade Miller, a drive estimated at 496 feet. ... The Cubs' five-game winning streak tied their season best. ... The Cardinals have converted their last three save opportunities, although they're 8-for-18 on the year. ... St. Louis LF Albert Pujols, who has a tight left hamstring, was removed as a precaution after eight innings.

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