St. Louis clouts four HRs in 9-3 victory

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals already have two MVP candidates in Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen. Jim Edmonds is trying to squeeze into the picture, too.

Edmonds homered twice, giving him seven in six games, and the Cardinals powered past the San Diego Padres 9-3 on Tuesday night.

"You never know what you're going to get," Edmonds said. "I definitely didn't expect to hit two home runs tonight, but it's just one of those things.

"So I'll just enjoy it while it lasts."

Pujols and Edgar Renteria each homered and had three hits for the NL Central leaders. Reggie Sanders also had three hits, and drove in a run.

Woody Williams (10-7) became the fifth member of the Cardinals' rotation to reach double figures in victories.

"It seems like a long time coming from April to now," Williams said. "It's obviously a nice feeling to at least somewhat catch up to the rest of the guys."

The Cardinals beat up on 13-game winner Brian Lawrence and San Diego's bullpen to win their fourth in a row, and lowered their magic number for clinching the division to 16.

St. Louis also beat one of its potential opponents in the playoffs: the Padres are battling for the wild-card spot and have won six of eight on a 10-game trip.

"We're trying to win ballgames and not think what could happen at this stage," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "We've had a good road trip up until now and we know we've got to play our best ball here, and tonight we didn't."

Edmonds was 3-for-3 with his 37th and 38th homers, two walks and an RBI single. He connected off Lawrence (13-11) to lead off the second and again off Steve Watkins in the seventh on the front end of back-to-back homers with Renteria.

In his last six games, Edmonds has 13 RBIs. He's two shy of giving the Cardinals three straight 100-RBI hammers in the lineup along with Rolen (113) and Pujols (103).

"You know what? We wouldn't be here without any of them," Sanders said. "So I'd vote for all three of them -- tied for first."

Brian Giles homered, and Ryan Klesko and Ramon Hernandez each had RBIs for the Padres.

Williams worked seven innings and gave up three runs on seven hits to join Matt Morris (14) and Chris Carpenter, Jeff Suppan and Jason Marquis, who have 13 wins apiece. He struck out six and walked none and is 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA against the Padres, for whom he played from 1999-2001.

Williams has won seven of his last eight decisions, and the Cardinals have won 13 of his last 14 starts. He rebounded from two spotty outings in which he gave up five runs in six innings each time.

The Cardinals led by a run before the fifth when a single by Larry Walker, an RBI double by Pujols, an RBI triple by Rolen and a single by Edmonds made it 5-1. Giles' 19th homer in the sixth and an RBI double by Hernandez in the seventh cut the gap to two.

Homers by Edmonds and Renteria leading off the seventh against Watkins restored the two-run cushion, and Pujols hit a two-run homer off Ricky Stone in the eighth.

Lawrence lasted 4 1-3 innings, one out more than his season low, and gave up five runs on 12 hits. He entered with consecutive complete-game victories, allowing one run on 11 hits in 18 innings.

Against the Cardinals, he said he didn't have his good sinker. That's his best pitch.

"If I go out there without it, I'm already at a disadvantage," Lawrence said. "I can't throw a flat 84 mph fastball and that's basically what I had."

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