Cardinals eliminated with 7-6 loss at Arizona

Saturday, September 27, 2003

PHOENIX (AP) -- Shea Hillenbrand's leadoff home run ignited a three-run sixth inning and the Arizona Diamondbacks eliminated the St. Louis Cardinals from the NL Central race with a 7-6 win Friday night.

Manager Tony La Russa wasn't in the dugout to see his team fail to reach the postseason for the first time since 1999. He and catcher Mike Matheny were serving the first of two-game suspensions stemming from recent run-ins with umpires.

Hillenbrand's 414-foot shot to straightaway center off Brett Tomko tied it at 3.

Carlos Baerga drove in the go-ahead run with a pinch-hit single, then Steve Finley doubled in pinch-runner Quinton McCracken from first to put Arizona up 5-3.

Baerga's 18th pinch-hit of the season tied the club record set by David Dellucci in 2001. Hillenbrand also had an RBI bloop single in the Diamondbacks' two-run seventh.

Tino Martinez was 3-for-3, including a two-run homer off Jose Valverde that cut the lead to 7-5 in the eighth.

Matt Mantei pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 32 opportunities. Jim Edmonds hit his 38th homer with two outs.

Tomko (13-9), 4-0 in his previous six starts and 7-1 in his last nine, lost for the first time since Aug. 17. The right-hander, whose 13 wins tied a career best, allowed five runs on 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings.

Chris Widger, starting at catcher in Matheny's absence, doubled in a pair of runs.

With the game tied at 2, Diamondbacks reliever Stephen Randolph retired the first two batters in the sixth, but walked Edgar Renteria.

Martinez followed with a single, then Widger bounced one over the wall in right-center for a ground-rule double to bring home Renteria and put St. Louis up 3-2.

Randolph (8-1) still got the victory thanks to Arizona's three-run sixth.

After Hillenbrand's homer, Craig Counsell beat out an infield single with a headfirst slide.

Counsell took second on a wild pitch and scored on Baerga's single. Finley's double off the center-field wall brought McCracken home.

Notes: Curt Schilling had been the Diamondbacks' scheduled starter, but was scratched because of ailments in his neck, shoulder, groin and knee. ... St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan will serve a one-game suspension on Sunday, imposed after last Saturday's game. Cardinals 2B Fernando Vina will serve a one-game suspension Saturday for his run-in with Matt Hollowell on Wednesday in Milwaukee. ... Arizona 1B Mark Grace, who announced his retirement before the game, will make his final start on Saturday. He is expected to make a pinch-hit appearance in Sunday's season finale. ... Hillenbrand has 21 homers this season, 17 since he was traded to Arizona.

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