Martinez slumps; Cards sweep

Friday, April 12, 2002

Associated Press/James A. Finley

Cardinals starter Bud Smith, moved into the rotation earlier Thursday, gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Brewers.By R.B. Fallstrom ~ The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Tino Martinez made a big contribution to the St. Louis Cardinals without taking the bat off his shoulder.

Martinez, mired in an early slump, drew a bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning as the Cardinals completed a three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers with a 6-5 victory on Thursday.

"I'd like to get a hit in those situations," Martinez said. "But taking a walk today obviously helped us win the game and that's what we're here for."

Martinez, who signed a $21 million, three-year deal to replace the retired Mark McGwire at first base, has been pressing to fill those large shoes. He's seldom hit the ball out of the infield and is batting .138 with four RBIs so far.

"It's frustrating because I'm trying to do too much," Martinez said. "I feel pretty good at the plate but I'm chasing bad pitches."

He got the job done against Mike DeJean, finally justifying the standing ovations and chants of "Tino! Tino!" before virtually every at-bat.

"I deserve to be getting booed right now," Martinez said. "I'm sure I'd be booed in many other cities besides St. Louis.

"It's definitely nice that they support me but I'd still like to go out there and produce."

The Cardinals won all three games by 6-5 scores. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the first time that's happened since the Dodgers beat the Expos by three straight 3-2 scores on May 14-16, 1990. It's happened 11 times in major league history.

"It's been the same the last three days," Brewers manager Davey Lopes said. "It's always ugly when you lose. The only good thing is we kept battling."

J.D. Drew walked off Jose Cabrera (0-2) with two outs in the eighth, Albert Pujols doubled and Jim Edmonds was intentionally walked to bring on DeJean. Martinez took three straight balls before a called strike, and crushed a 3-1 pitch foul to the loge level in right field before taking ball four well outside.

"You're basically in the driver's seat in those situations," Martinez said. "He's got to throw the ball over the plate, and if he falls behind, even better. I just relaxed and got good pitches to hit and saw the balls out of the zone."

Mike Matheny hit a three-run homer and Drew also homered for the Cardinals, who have won five of six. Cabrera also took the loss in the series opener, allowing a go-ahead sacrifice fly to Fernando Vina in the eighth inning.

Dave Veres (2-0) pitched 1 1/3 innings for the win, leaving with two men on in the ninth. Steve Kline came on and got two strikeouts for his first save.

Bud Smith, called up earlier in the day to replace the injured Woody Williams in the rotation, lasted 5 1/3 innings for St. Louis. He gave up three runs, two earned, and four hits.

"I was pleased with the way he threw," manager Tony La Russa said. "That's a tough lineup, a real tough lineup. I still think his command can improve based on what we know he can do but it was a solid outing."

The Cardinals stranded five runners the first two innings, settling for Vina's RBI single in the second. They broke through against rookie Nick Neugebauer in the third on leadoff walks to Pujols and Edmonds and Matheny's one-out home run for a 4-1 lead.

It was the first homer for Matheny, who hit one in spring training that didn't count because of a lineup card error in a game against the Expos.

Neugebauer threw 71 pitches in 2 1-3 innings and allowed four runs, four hits and four walks.

St. Louis made it 5-1 in the fourth on Drew's first home run, off Mike Buddie.

The Brewers scored three in the sixth on Richie Sexson's two-run homer and a sacrifice fly by Jeffrey Hammonds, both off Gene Stechschulte. They tied it against Stechschulte in the seventh on a double by Mark Loretta and Eric Young's sacrifice fly.

A throwing error by Pujols on Young's leadoff grounder in the first led to the game's first run. Young went to second on the play and scored two batters later on Hammonds' first sacrifice fly.

Notes: To make room for Smith, the Cardinals optioned RHP Mike Crudale to Triple-A Memphis. Crudale pitched a perfect ninth Wednesday. ... Young, who went 1-for-4, is 3-for-28 on the season.

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