Williams had a rough outing in his last start, giving up six earned runs and 10 hits—including four homers to the first 14 batters he faced—in a game that featured a Dodger Stadium-record nine home runs. However, he hung on for 10-7 win, at the time tying him with Russ Ortiz of the Atlanta Braves with a National League-leading 13 wins.
“He was just real sluggish early and he didn’t locate very well, but he didn’t ever say ‘It’s not my day,”’ St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. “He kept pitching and got us that deep into the game. That’s Woody Williams.”
Despite the shaky pitching performance, Williams found another way to help the team, hitting a homer in the fourth to break a 5-5 tie and give the Cardinals the lead for good.
“I work hard on my hitting,” said Williams, a strong-hitting pitcher who has three career home runs. “I take pride in it. It’s very important.
“In a game like this it makes all the difference in the world.”
The outing was the second-worst of the season for Williams, who had never won more than 12 games in his 10 previous big league seasons.
The 36-year-old righty, who has a 17-3 career record at Busch Stadium, gave up a season-high seven earned runs and 10 hits in six innings of an 11-7 win over the Cincinnati Reds on June 26.
The Cardinals fell 10-5 in Friday’s series opener for their third loss in four games.
The Pirates, on the other hand, have won five of six despite losing four players to trades in the last week.
Reggie Sanders and Brian Giles both homered for the Pirates, while Jose Hernandez, acquired from the Cubs earlier in the week, had three hits, including a leadoff double in the Pirates’ six-run eighth.
STANDINGS: Pirates - 4th place, 7 1/2 GB, NL Central. Cardinals - 2nd place, 3 1/2 GB, NL Central.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Josh Fogg (6-4, 4.71 ERA). Fogg gave up three earned runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-3 win over the Houston Astros on Monday for his fourth victory in five decisions. In five career starts against the Cardinals, he is 1-3 with a 7.36 ERA—his worst mark against any National League team.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Williams (13-3, 3.24 ERA). In nine career starts against the Pirates, Williams is 4-2 with a 3.59 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Pirates - Giles, .306 avg. and 53 RBIs; Sanders, 17 HRs; Jason Kendall, 59 runs; Sanders and Pokey Reese, 6 SBs. Cardinals - Albert Pujols, .370 avg., 92 RBIs and 91 runs; Pujols and Jim Edmonds, 29 HRs; Edgar Renteria, 24 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Pirates, 4-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Pirates - SS Hernandez has struck out 126 times in 100 games and is on a pace for 204 this season. That would break the record of 189 set by Bobby Bonds in 1970, a mark Hernandez seemed a sure bet to surpass last season with the Milwaukee Brewers before he sat out all but three of the final 11 games. … The Pirates are 22-14 since June 14, the best record in the NL Central over that span. … OF Sanders went 2-for-4 with the homer and a triple Friday, snapping a 1-for-14 skid. Cardinals - 1B Pujols went 1-for-5 with a double Friday while appealing the two-game suspension he received earlier in the day for his role in a fight on July 13. … INF Miguel Cairo, who fractured his left hand on June 18, was expected to begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Memphis on Friday night. Team spokesman Brian Bartow said Cairo could rejoin the team Tuesday, when the Cardinals begin a road trip against the Montreal Expos. … La Russa said that RHP Garrett Stephenson, who was removed from the rotation earlier in the month, will start Tuesday against the Expos. He will take the place of No. 1 starter Matt Morris, who broke a bone in his hand when he was struck by a line drive Monday and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pirates - 25-24 on the road; Cardinals - 29-21 at home.
INJURIES: Pirates - INF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; INF Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL. Cardinals - C Joe Girardi (back), 15-day DL; C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; IF Cairo (hand), 15-day DL; IF Fernando Vina (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Eli Marrero (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Morris (hand), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (foot), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL.