Cards find way to end losing streak

Thursday, June 29, 2006
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter delivered to home plate during Wednesday's game. Carpenter pitched seven innings and left with a 3-1 lead but did not get the win. (Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- Any win is exciting for the St. Louis Cardinals right now, no matter how it falls into their lap.

Jhonny Peralta's throwing error, one of two by the Cleveland Indians in the ninth inning, allowed the winning run to score in the Cardinals' 5-4 victory Wednesday night that ended an eight-game losing streak. The skid was the franchise's longest since 1988.

"After all those games, you just want to find a way to win one," said David Eckstein, whose routine grounder ended up producing the big run. "The bottom line is ending up winning."

Backup catcher Kelly Shoppach, who entered as part of a double switch in the eighth, dropped So Taguchi's pop fly just in front of home plate to start the inning for a two-base error. Aaron Miles' RBI double off Bob Wickman (1-3) with one out tied the score. Miles was on third for Eckstein's routine, two-out grounder to shortstop, and Peralta's throw in the dirt eluded first baseman Victor Martinez.

Peralta admitted hurrying his throw to Martinez, who moved from catcher to first in the eighth.

"I know he's running as fast as he can," Peralta said. "I tried to throw it as fast as I could. It had a bad hop."

Shoppach blamed himself for getting the rally going.

"It was my ball," he said. "I've made that play before. I wanted that ball in that situation."

When the winning run scored, fans tossed hundreds of seat cushions, the giveaway for the game, onto the field.

Jason Isringhausen (2-3) gave up Aaron Boone's go-ahead sacrifice fly in the Indians' three-run eighth. Isringhausen, who allowed two hits and no runs in 1 2/3 innings, was one of four relievers used by the Cardinals in the eighth.

Grady Sizemore had four hits and an RBI for the Indians, who ended a string of seven straight series losses by winning the first two games. Not that it was any consolation to Indians manager Eric Wedge.

"It was a total defensive collapse," Wedge said. "We gave it back to them a lot easier than we took it from them. It was an embarrassing ending to what potentially could have been a real big game for us."

Chris Carpenter left with a 3-1 lead after working seven innings, getting his last out after medical attention for a cramp in his hand, and Scott Rolen homered for the Cardinals. Juan Encarnacion and Yadier Molina had an RBI apiece for St. Louis, which was outscored 68-28 during the losing streak, most of the games blowouts.

Todd Hollandsworth's shallow pop fly with the bases loaded that fell between left fielder Taguchi, inserted as a defensive substitute in that inning, and shortstop Eckstein, was the key to the Indians' eighth. Eckstein appeared to peel away and Taguchi had his glove out but missed the ball, then recovered too late for any play on a ball ruled a hit.

Eckstein said Taguchi called for the ball.

"I probably could have caught it, but So called it," Eckstein said. "It's one of those things that nothing just seemed to go our way."

Sizemore singled off Randy Flores to start the eighth and Ronnie Belliard followed with a double off Braden Looper when Encarnacion missed a diving attempt in right. Martinez's infield hit, a chopper that Tyler Johnson could not glove cleanly, cut the deficit to one.

Travis Hafner, making his first pinch-hit appearance of the season, walked against Isringhausen to load the bases. The misplay on Hollandsworth's popup, ruled a single, tied it. Boone followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Indians their first lead.

The Cardinals scored twice in the fourth despite a baserunning gaffe by Jim Edmonds that might have prevented a bigger inning. Edmonds overran third on a wild pitch by Jake Westbrook that would have put runners on second and third with one out, and was thrown out trying to get back by Martinez, the catcher. Encarnacion and Molina took Edmonds off the hook with RBI singles for a 2-0 lead.

Sizemore's RBI single cut the deficit to one in the fifth and Rolen restored the two-run cushion for the Cardinals with his 10th homer to straightaway center in the sixth.

Notes: Hollandsworth robbed Molina of extra bases with a diving catch in LF in the seventh. ... Sizemore was 7-for-13 in the series and is 17-for-41 during a 10-game hitting streak with three homers. ... Rolen's homer was the first in five games for the Cardinals and only the second in the last seven games. ... Molina's hit snapped an 0-for-11 skid. ... Wickman made his 750th appearance, breaking a tie with Willie Hernandez for 50th on the career list.

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