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Redbirds go perfect 7-0 vs. Dodgers this season

Monday, July 24, 2006

St. Louis beat Los Angeles 6-1 to sweep the season series for the first time in 115 years.

LOS ANGELES - Pitching on his normal four days' rest, Jason Marquis bounced back from an awful outing.

Facing the Los Angeles Dodgers' suddenly anemic offense didn't hurt, either.

Marquis became the NL's first 12-game winner and the St. Louis Cardinals used two home runs from Juan Encarnacion to beat the Dodgers 6-1 Sunday, sweeping the season series for the first time in the 115-year rivalry.

Marquis originally was slated to pitch Monday in Colorado. But after allowing 12 runs and 14 hits over five innings Tuesday in a 14-5 loss to Atlanta, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa thought pitching Sunday would give Marquis a better chance to redeem himself. Dodger Stadium's spacious outfield is more forgiving than Coors Field, and Marquis has given up a league-worst 24 homers.

"Whether I pitched today or tomorrow, I would have prepared either way," Marquis said. "The situation in Colorado, with the ball flying out of there, maybe Tony just didn't want to put me in a position for a game to possibly get out of hand. But I prepared myself for five days' rest."

The temperature reached 92 degrees at gametime and about 110 on the field. But it hardly bothered Marquis (12-7), who allowed four hits over eight shutout innings on 106 pitches. He struck out two and walked none.

"I treat each start as its own individual one and I put the previous one behind me," Marquis said. "I felt like I was way off mechanically from where I was, so I went back to look at tapes from '04 and made the proper adjustments. And it paid off. I kept throwing strike one and kept my sinker down in the zone."

The Cardinals set a franchise record by homering in their 19th consecutive game, courtesy of Encarnacion's two solo shots. Scott Rolen and rookie Chris Duncan each added a two-run single in the fifth for St. Louis, which finished 7-0 against the Dodgers this year.

"This team this year really doesn't play by the long ball, so it's surprising," Jim Edmonds said. "We have a lot of guys who are pretty good at doing their jobs, doing everything right and being above-average, as far as power. I mean, if you told me we were going to have three or four guys hit 30 or 40 homers, I wouldn't believe you. But I think we're capable of having five or six guys with 20."

The three-game sweep was the Cardinals' first at Dodger Stadium since April 1993. They have won nine straight against Los Angeles and 15 of the last 19 meetings -- including a four-game sweep last week in St. Louis. Overall, the NL Central leaders have won 11 of 13 and lead Cincinnati by five games.

The only other time the Dodgers were swept in a season series by an NL club since moving to Los Angeles in 1958 was in 1994, when Atlanta was 6-0 against them. But a players strike that year wiped out the final seven scheduled meetings between the teams.

"I'm glad we're done playing them because they're going to get hot," La Russa said. "I don't want to spend the rest of the season having to beat Brad Penny a couple more times, because that's not going to happen."

The Dodgers are 1-10 with three shutout losses since the All-Star break -- two of them against St. Louis -- and have been outscored 57-17 during this stretch. The Cardinals outscored them 35-8 in the seven games.

"We ran into a buzzsaw with St. Louis," manager Grady Little said. "We've just got to keep working. These guys are professionals and they know how to correct it. The ball's in their court."

Rookie Chad Billingsley (1-3) gave up six runs -- five earned -- and six hits over five-plus innings and walked five in his eighth big league start, after pitching seven scoreless innings in Tuesday's 5-2 win at Arizona and five scoreless frames against the Cardinals on July 13.

"No one hit the ball hard except for Encarnacion," Billingsley said.

Encarnacion connected in the second to open the scoring. It was the first run Billingsley allowed in 15 innings since giving up a three-run homer to Barry Bonds on July 7.

Encarnacion's 14th homer in the sixth gave him four career multihomer games. The home runs helped the Cardinals eclipse their previous mark for consecutive games with a homer, set in April 2000.

St. Louis broke it open with four runs in the fifth. Duncan drove in two with a bases-loaded single. Albert Pujols was intentionally walked with first base occupied, loading the bases again for Rolen, who hit a two-run single. The Cardinals are batting .312 in bases-loaded situations.


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