St. Louis (74-39) at Atlanta (65-48)

Sunny Currently: Atlanta, GA, US
Temp: 73° F
  • Game info: 7:35 pm EDT Fri Aug 13, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Woody Williams feels like he’s getting stronger as the season progresses, and the St. Louis Cardinals could not be happier with his improvement.

The 37-year-old right-hander will try to win his sixth consecutive decision when the Cardinals open a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

Williams, 5-0 with a 2.60 ERA over his past 10 starts, limited the New York Mets to one run and two hits over seven innings Saturday but did not get a decision in St. Louis’ 2-1 win. His ERA dropped to 3.91, the first time this season it’s been below 4.00.

“A couple months ago, I was thinking I was taking the same stuff out there, but I wasn’t,” Williams said. “The hitters will let you know if you’re releasing the ball where you should and if it has late life on it. The more innings I’m throwing, the stronger I’m getting, if that makes any sense. It usually doesn’t work that way, but I feel that’s what’s happened with me.”

The Cardinals, who have 12 1/2 -game lead over the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, had won seven straight before an 8-2 loss to the Florida Marlins on Thursday. On a 92-degree afternoon, manager Tony La Russa decided to give Scott Rolen, Edgar Renteria, Tony Womack, Reggie Sanders and Mike Matheny the day off.

“I don’t believe they would have had that much gas in their tank to play, so I have no regrets,” La Russa said. “We just didn’t support our starting pitcher with the defense we usually play, and we paid for it.”

The Braves, who have a seven-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East, have won 12 of their last 14.

Jaret Wright won his ninth straight decision Thursday, and J.D. Drew hit a go-ahead homer to lead the Braves to a 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Atlanta won two of three from Milwaukee and has not lost a series in almost two months. The Braves are 12-0-2 in their last 14 series since dropping two of three at Florida June 22-24.

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Starting Pitchers

W. Williams HOU vs. P. Byrd BOS
11-8 Record 8-7
4.18 ERA 3.94
131 K 79
58 BB 19
1.32 WHIP 1.24