Cardinals relaxed in San Francisco

Sunday, August 1, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO -- While their teammates meandered through the clubhouse after yet another victory for the St. Louis Cardinals, Jason Isringhausen and Woody Williams absently watched the television highlights from around the league.

"I thought they traded him," Isringhausen said, referring to Dodgers catcher Paul Lo Duca. Williams only shrugged.

The Cardinals can afford to be relaxed. The majors' best team went 30 games over .500 on the eve of the trade deadline, countering Barry Bonds' 685th homer with a six-run rally in the sixth inning of a 7-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday night.

Jim Edmonds had a two-run triple during the rally, and St. Louis' pitching staff made it stand up for the Cardinals' fifth straight win. They improved to 66-36, two games better than the Yankees.

"Lately, we've been doing everything right," said Isringhausen, who pitched the ninth for his 27th save in 31 chances. "You can bolster a position here and there, but you might mess up what's going on. We should just go out there with what we've got."

What the Cardinals have is a lot, including second baseman Tony Womach, a late pickup in spring training who tripled to start the decisive rally Friday. He had two hits, scored two runs and stole a base.

"It doesn't mean anything to be 30 games over .500," Womack said. "We're still sticking to our goal to win every series. That's the only thing we're shooting for."

The Cardinals actually struggled to score while losing seven of their last nine meetings with San Francisco, but runs weren't a problem in the opener of a three-game series.

"They play for big innings, and they have a lot of firepower to score many runs," San Francisco manager Felipe Alou said. "If you leave the gate open, they'll do what they did tonight."

After Giants starter Jerome Williams left midway through the fourth with tightness in his elbow and Tyler Walker pitched into the sixth, Jim Brower (6-6) gave up four hits and four runs while getting just two outs.

"I was one pitch from getting out of it, but starting with (Jim) Edmonds' at-bat, I couldn't keep the ball down," Brower said. "It was triple, double, double. That's the best lineup in the league. They put pressure on you throughout the lineup, and you've got to make your pitches, or you're in trouble."

Chris Carpenter (11-4) recovered from a rocky beginning for his third victory in five starts. He allowed seven hits -- three homers -- and four runs in 6 2-3 innings, escaping a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.

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