Late surge lifts Cardinals past Marlins

Thursday, August 4, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- Considering his puny 2-for-18 showing as a pinch hitter, So Taguchi hardly struck fear into the Florida Marlins when he strode to the plate.

So much for history.

Taguchi hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the seventh inning -- the first pinch hit homer of his career, including 10 years in Japan -- to lead the St. Louis Cardinals past Florida 9-6 on Wednesday night.

"My first pinch-hit home run anywhere, I can't believe it," Taguchi said. "I was waiting for middle [of the plate]. I saw the ball come middle."

David Eckstein had three hits and two RBIs along with a nice running catch in shallow left center to rob Mike Lowell in the third, and Mark Grudzielanek had three hits and an RBI for the Cardinals, who have won four of five.

Damion Easley homered for Florida, which led 3-0 in the second and 4-2 in the seventh, and Paul LoDuca and Jeff Conine each had two hits and an RBI. After the game, Lenny Harris had a yelling fit in the Marlins clubhouse, saying "We need to stop disrespecting each other! We're better than this! We've got to quit feeling sorry for ourselves!"

The Cardinals had 10 batters in a four-run seventh, highlighted by Taguchi's sixth homer on a 1-0 pitch from Ron Villone (0-1), who was working for the third straight day after being acquired from the Mariners on the trade deadline.

Taguchi was batting for another pinch hitter, John Mabry, after Marlins manager Jack McKeon pulled starter Josh Beckett following a one-out single by Grudzielanek and a walk to Abraham Nunez.

"Did you think Taguchi would hit it out?" McKeon asked. "We wouldn't, either. That's what happens once in a while. He's been hitting singles to right field."

A wild pitch by Antonio Alfonseca allowed the fourth run to score in the inning to make it 6-4.

Nunez had an RBI single, and Einar Diaz and Eckstein had run-scoring doubles in the eighth off Guillermo Mota.

Taguchi has five pinch-hit RBIs despite his 3-for-19 overall showing and the homer -- punctuated by a dugout curtain call -- allowed Matt Morris (12-4) to avoid losing three straight starts for the first time in his career.

In seven innings, Morris gave up four runs and nine hits. He's 7-1 with a 3.79 ERA against the Marlins. In his previous two starts -- losses to Los Angeles and Chicago -- Morris had surrendered 11 runs in 13 innings.

"Early on, they seemed to be on every ball I threw," Morris said. "Luckily I was in there until the seventh."

Luis Castillo hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Ray King to make it 9-6, before Jason Isringhausen came on to the get last out.

Two of the first three games in the four-game series have been decided by pinch hitters, with Harris hitting a go-ahead three-run double in the sixth inning of Monday's series opener.

Beckett pitched 6 1/3 innings in his third outing since coming off the 15-day disabled list due to a strained left stomach muscle, allowing four runs and four hits. He had five strikeouts and two walks.

Villone had worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit, in his first two appearances with the Marlins. He lasted one-third of an inning in the third appearance, giving up two runs and three hits.

"I'm feeling good, and I'll be ready tomorrow," Villone said. "I've got to scrap this one and forget about it."

A run-scoring groundout by Conine and an RBI single by Miguel Cabrera gave the Marlins the lead in the first for the second straight game. Easley hit his ninth homer in the second for a 3-0 lead.

Jim Edmonds doubled and scored on Grudzielanek's one-out hit in the second and Eckstein's second homer in four days came in the fourth to cut the gap to a run.

Edmonds also made a diving catch going back toward the wall in center field on a ball hit by pinch-hitter Chris Aguila in the ninth.


* The Cardinals are 9-9 against the NL East, but Morris is 3-0 against the division.

* In three starts at Busch Stadium, Beckett is 0-2 with a 6.50 ERA.

* Edmonds is 7-for-14 against Beckett with six doubles, a homer and four RBIs.

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