Cards notch victory No. 99

Sunday, October 2, 2005

Walker hit two home runs in Saturday's 9-6 victory against the Reds.

ST. LOUIS -- Larry Walker hit two home runs Saturday and the St. Louis Cardinals moved within a game of becoming baseball's only 100-win team, beating the Cincinnati Reds 9-6.

Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer, his 41st, with one out in the first, and Walker followed with a drive off Cincinnati starter Ramon Ortiz (9-12). Walker connected off Ortiz again leading off the fourth.

Though limited to 99 games because of a herniated disc in his neck, Walker has 15 homers and 52 RBIs. It was his 31st career multihomer game and his third this season. He also hit two homers off Ortiz here on June 29.

Randy Flores (3-1) recorded the final out of the seventh for the win. Jason Isringhausen loaded the bases in the ninth before striking out Adam Dunn for his 38th save in 42 chances.

St. Louis has clinched baseball's best record and came into the final regular-season series at Busch Stadium needing a sweep of the Reds to reach 100 wins. The Cardinals move to a new ballpark next season.

The Cardinals, who won 105 games last season, are seeking back-to-back 100-win seasons for the first time since 1942 through 1944, the only time the franchise accomplished the feat.

Pujols had a 61 at-bat homerless streak before hitting a grand slam in the seventh inning Friday. He has seven RBIs the past two games and scored three times Saturday.

Cardinals starter Jason Marquis took a 4-0 lead into the fifth, but couldn't hold it.

Austin Kearns hit his 17th homer leading off the fifth, and Chris Denorfia and Felipe Lopez added run-scoring doubles.

Marquis walked Kearns with two outs in the sixth, and Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer, his ninth, to put the Reds ahead.

The Cardinals reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the sixth, helped by Ortiz's wildness. With one out, he walked Pujols, Walker and Reggie Sanders. Mark Grudzielanek singled home a run, and Walker raced home on a short fly to right by So Taguchi.

After Lopez homered to tie it in the seventh, another bout of wildness put St. Louis back on top.

Reliever Allan Simpson (0-1) walked pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker and Abraham Nunez, then hit Pujols to load the bases. Brian Shackelford relieved and hit pinch-hitter Hector Luna, and Sanders followed with a two-run single off Todd Coffey.

Marquis allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings. Ortiz pitched six innings and allowed six runs.

Noteworthy

* With one game remaining, the Cardinals have drawn a record 3,488,554 fans.

* Longtime Cardinals second baseman and manager Red Schoendienst removed the No. 2 in the countdown of games remaining at Busch Stadium. Ozzie Smith will remove the No. 1 during today's regular-season finale.

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