Smith, Drew come through

Friday, July 26, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO -- Travis Smith and J.D. Drew are making the most of their periodic chances to help the St. Louis Cardinals.

Drew homered and drove in four runs, sending Smith and the NL Central leaders over the San Francisco Giants 4-3 Thursday with their fourth victory in five games.

The Cardinals have stayed atop their division despite plenty of injuries, including the knee tendinitis that makes Drew's availability a gametime decision every day. He felt good before the game, and he showed it with a run-scoring single and a three-run homer.

"It gets a little better every day," said Drew, who didn't start in two of the Cardinals' first three games at Pacific Bell Park this week. "I'm pretty fresh for the days when I do get to play. Sometimes it's hard to get a rhythm going, but with the problems we've had, I feel like I need to play when I can."

St. Louis, 9-4 since the All-Star break, finished a seven-game road trip with another strong outing from Smith, the rookie who was recalled from the minors after Darryl Kile died last month.

Smith (4-1), who wasn't even in St. Louis' plans for this season a few months ago, has won three of his five starts since being brought up.

"I've been pitching out of tough situations all season," Smith said. "I don't really even think about when my next start is coming. I've been in the rotation for a month now, so I'm starting to feel good about it."

Smith held San Francisco's patchwork lineup to seven hits over six innings while striking out six.

After Drew's homer to straightaway center put the Cardinals ahead in the sixth, St. Louis used four relievers to keep the lead. Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 28 chances.

"Almost always, when there's been an opportunity, somebody else has stepped up," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

The Cardinals took three of four from the Giants, who are trying to stay atop the wild card race despite injuries to several regulars.

Tsuyoshi Shinjo became the latest casualty when he aggravated a tender hamstring while sliding into second base in the second inning. He was put on the disabled list after the game, leaving two seldom-used reserves and an infielder to finish the game in the Giants' outfield.

"We just don't have enough bodies," San Francisco manager Dusty Baker said. "It makes it tough for us to maneuver and manage. I've never seen this happen in such a short period of time -- the whole outfield going down in one week."

Shinjo's hamstring has bothered him for a week, but he felt he had to play while Barry Bonds and Reggie Sanders were out with hamstring injuries.

"I tried to do the best I could to help the team and not get hurt, but it happened today," Shinjo said. "If everybody were healthy, I could have used the day off, but there really was no choice."

Damon Minor homered for the Giants, who have lost four of six. Shawon Dunston had a run-scoring single among his three hits for San Francisco, which played its sixth straight game without Bonds in the starting lineup.

When Shinjo left the game in the third inning, Tom Goodwin moved over to center field and Ramon Martinez made his first major league appearance in the outfield.

In addition, All-Star catcher Benito Santiago sat out his second straight game with an eye infection.

The Giants are so strapped for players that Livan Hernandez, a .275 hitter who pitched against St. Louis on Monday night, pinch-hit in the seventh for starter Ryan Jensen (10-7). Hernandez had a sacrifice bunt that set up Dunston's single.

Jensen, the Giants' surprise leader in victories, lost for the first time in six starts. He allowed six hits and struck out five in another good start, but he was burned twice by Drew.

"I felt good, but there was one bad pitch," Jensen said.

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