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Bitter 'Birds pound Red Sox again 9-2
Tempers flared as St. Louis defeated the World Champions for the second straight night.
ST. LOUIS -- The offense that deserted the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series is back in a big way for this interleague series against the Boston Red Sox.
Jim Edmonds and Reggie Sanders homered off previously unbeaten Matt Clement, and Jeff Suppan worked six solid innings in the St. Louis Cardinals' 9-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.
The Cardinals have won the first two games of the three-game interleague series by a combined score of 16-3, four more runs than they mustered last fall in a World Series they never led.
"Clutch hits, clutch pitching," manager Tony La Russa said. "We've had two complete games from all parts of our club."
The action turned testy in the last four innings when five players were hit by pitches, three of them Cardinals including Larry Walker twice. Both benches were warned in the seventh after Mark Grudzielanek, the third player to be hit and the second Cardinal, was hit in the back by Matt Mantei.
"You guys know I haven't been exactly painting (the corners) lately, so balls get away every now and then," Mantei said. "The ejection was uncalled for but it happens."
After Mantei threw to first five times, Grudzielanek stole second and drew a standing ovation from a sellout crowd of 47,496. Three batters later, Mantei was ejected for hitting Walker -- also hit in the sixth by John Halama -- in the hip.
"Matty's a great guy," Walker said. "Sometimes his control gets away from him."
La Russa doesn't think the situation will be a factor in the series finale.
"I don't think they did anything intentionally," La Russa said. "But guys get hit and guys get upset and the umpires respond to what they see, so that's the way it goes."
The Cardinals' Al Reyes was then ejected in the eighth after hitting Kevin Youkilis on the left wrist.
"I don't try to hit anybody," Reyes said. "I just try to pitch my game."
Albert Pujols' two-run double capped a four-run second off Clement (6-1) for the Cardinals, whose 38-20 record leads the National League and is the franchise's best start since 1944. They've won four of five and will go for their sixth sweep of the season on Wednesday.
Jason Varitek hit his 11th homer and Mark Bellhorn had an RBI double for the Red Sox, who have lost seven of nine on the road and are 14-18 overall away from Fenway Park.
Clement's winning streak to start the season was the best by a Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez and John Burkett each began 2002 with 7-0 records, and entering the game he had allowed only three homers in 76 2-3 innings. He lasted only four innings, his shortest stint of the year, and the seven runs allowed on seven hits matched his season worst.
The loss was Clement's first in 13 starts since last Sept. 20 at Florida, denying him a chance to match the Cardinals' Matt Morris as the only 7-0 pitchers in the major leagues. The Red Sox had won his seven previous starts -- Clement went 4-0 with a 2.70 ERA in that span.
Clement bemoaned mishandling the bottom of the order in the second, walking eighth-place hitter Yadier Molina and then giving up a single to Suppan.
"The one thing you hate to do is make it easy for the other pitcher because you know our team offensively is going to do the job," Clement said. "Unfortunately, I gave their pitcher a lot of wiggle room."
Suppan (5-5) allowed two runs on six hits in six innings to beat the Red Sox, whom he played for from 1995-97, for the first time since Aug. 25, 2000. The Cardinals handed him a 6-1 lead to work with after two innings and helped him even his record for the fourth time this season.
Edmonds' 11th homer, a two-run shot with two outs in the first, made it 2-0. After Varitek homered in the second, the Cardinals answered with four in the bottom half on RBI singles by David Eckstein and Grudzielanek and Pujols' two-run double for a 6-1 lead.
Sanders added his 12th homer leading off the third, and Bellhorn's RBI double came in the fifth. Abraham Nunez added a two-run single off Alan Embree in the seventh.
Notes: Manny Ramirez has been stuck on 11 home runs for 57 at-bats. He hasn't homered since May 22. He made the recovery of the game when he slipped and fell while tracking Nunez's flyball in the third but still had time to get up and make the catch. ... Cardinals reliever Reyes turned Bill Mueller's liner up the middle into the Cardinals' third double play of the game when he snared it and threw to first to double Varitek off first. ... Edgar Renteria had another unproductive day in his return to St. Louis, going 1-for-4 with his third and fourth double-play balls in eight at-bats in the series.