Hot Williams handles Padres

Tuesday, July 2, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- Woody Williams ignored the 96-degree heat and just kept pitching.

Williams hit his second career home run and won for the fourth time in five starts, working eight strong innings as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the San Diego Padres 7-3 Monday night.

"I had no idea what the temperature was," Williams said. "I'm from the sauna. It was cold out there."

Williams is from the Houston area.

Jim Edmonds, Miguel Cairo and Albert Pujols also homered off rookie Oliver Perez, 20, the youngest player in the major leagues. The Cardinals rebounded after losing two of three to the Reds over the weekend, remaining tied for the NL Central lead with Cincinnati.

"You knew Woody was going to step up," manager Tony La Russa said. "But I really felt good about our everyday club. We've got real good toughness on this team and this is a day you've got to show your toughness."

Edmonds, the only left-handed batter in the lineup against the left-handed Perez, hit a two-run shot an estimated 457 feet to the upper deck in right in the first.

Williams and Cairo hit consecutive homers in the third and Pujols connected for his team-leading 17th homer for two more runs in the fifth.

"He was throwing hard, but he was a little out of control," Cairo said. "We took advantage of it every time."

Ray Lankford, traded for Williams last August in a deal that propelled the Cardinals to the NL wild card, hit a two-run homer for the Padres in the sixth but struck out his other three trips. San Diego has lost five of six.

Williams (6-3) gave up three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. He homered to right off Perez's first pitch of the third, his first homer since connecting off Kirk Rueter on July 20, 2000, at San Francisco.

Williams is batting .250 (5-for-20) for the year with three RBIs, but said he wouldn't lord that over his former teammates.

"I don't talk about that kind of stuff," he said.

Perez (2-1) allowed only one homer in his first three career starts over 18 2-3 innings, but he surrendered three to the first 10 batters he faced. The Cardinals led 5-1 after three innings and 7-1 after five.

"I made a lot of mistakes and they got me," Perez said through an interpreter, catcher Wiki Gonzalez. "They got me good. It wasn't my day."

The Cardinals are 15-1 against the Padres the last three seasons. Dating to 1999, the Padres are 3-22 in St. Louis.

"Things haven't been going well for us," center fielder Mark Kotsay said. "We haven't been able to get these guys for a while and it's frustrating."

Ramon Vazquez singled, stole second and eventually scored on a wild pitch as the Padres got the game's first run in the first inning. The next pitch, Williams struck out Lankford for the final out.

Notes: The Cardinals are 3-4 on a 13-game homestand, the longest of the season, that'll take them to the All-Star break. ... The Cardinals changed positions for three players in the lineup after it was originally posted, moving Cairo from second base to left field, Placido Polanco from third base to second base and Mike Coolbaugh from left field to third base. Cairo made a running catch at the warning track near the foul line on D'Angelo Jimenez's liner in the second. ... Tino Martinez, who totaled five hits the previous two games, got the day off because of the left-handed starter. ... Williams is 7-2 with an 2.17 ERA at Busch Stadium. His homer was the first by a Cardinals pitcher since Mike Matthews connected at Cincinnati on Aug. 21, 2001. ... The Padres, who were 17-14 on May 15 after a three-game sweep of the Expos, are 17-35 since and have trailed in all but three games.

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