Cards lower broom on Cubs

Thursday, May 16, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- Woody Williams emerged after nearly six weeks on the disabled list and allowed an unearned run in six innings as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1 for a three-game sweep Wednesday night.

Pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo's RBI triple off right fielder Sammy Sosa's glove drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh. The Cubs lost their seventh in a row.

Williams' outing came a day after another starter, Garrett Stephenson, was activated from the DL and allowed one run in four innings in an 11-2 victory. Manager Tony La Russa said before the game that just having both pitchers come out of their outings healthy was like having a pair of wins.

Williams, a 15-game winner last year, lasted only two innings in his season debut April 5 at Houston before leaving with a strained muscle in his left side. He returned to the rotation without making a rehab start, impressing the team in a 60-pitch simulated game on Sunday in Cincinnati.

Gene Stechschulte (5-1) struck out one in a perfect seventh and Jason Isringhausen worked the ninth for his ninth save in 10 chances.

The Cardinals have won four in a row and six of seven and climbed to .500 for the first time since April 27, when they were 12-12.

Jason Bere (1-6) allowed three runs in six-plus innings. The Cubs' slump is their longest since they dropped eight straight last May 10-18, and they fell a season-worst 12 games below .500 at 13-25.

The Cubs have been outscored 49-17 during their losing streak.

Cairo, who is 6-for-15 as a pinch-hitter with four RBIs, tripled to the opposite field just off Sosa's glove in the right-field corner to break a 1-1 tie. The hit easily scored Eli Marrero, who singled to start the inning.

Fernando Vina followed with an RBI single off Jeff Fassero for a two-run lead and Jim Edmonds hit his ninth homer in the eighth, a drive to straightaway center estimated at 422 feet, to make it 4-1.

The Cubs got a gift run in the second after Fred McGriff singled. He stole second, went to third when Eli Marrero bounced the throw, and scored when Edmonds' throw from center field to third ended up in the Chicago dugout.

NOTES: Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, in St. Louis to promote National Transportation Week, threw out the first pitch. He scattered people standing near the plate with a wild throw up the third-base line. ... Edmonds and Vina received Gold Gloves before the game. Edmonds has three errors this season after committing six all last year. Edmonds also had a running, leaping catch at the warning track to rob Moises Alou of extra bases in the fourth. ... Vina stole his 100th career base in the third. ... The Cardinals optioned LHP Bud Smith to Triple-A Memphis to make room for Williams on the roster.

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