Cardinals 5, Braves 1

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ST. LOUIS (AP)—Woody Williams’ long wait for his first victory is over.

Williams, an 18-game winner last year, won for the first time in seven starts this season with eight strong innings in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 5-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.

“It’s just nice to be able to go out there and be under control and not to allow the big inning,” Williams said. “That’s what’s been biting me so far this season.”

Mike Matheny drove in two runs without a hit, getting RBIs on a bases-loaded groundout in the second and a squeeze bunt in the sixth. A third run scored for St. Louis when Williams’ two-out grounder in the second scooted between first baseman Adam LaRoche’s legs for an error.

The Cardinals, who are 7-11 at Busch Stadium, won consecutive home games for the first time this season. They’re 10-5 on the road.

Williams (1-3) entered with a 6.27 ERA and only four victories in his last 18 starts dating to last July. Shoulder tendinitis limited him to five innings in spring training and he struggled to start the season.

“He’s such a proud guy,” manager Tony La Russa said. “He needed something like this today to make a mark, and to build on that.”

Williams was in control in the clubhouse hours before game-time when he walked in and immediately turned down the stereo. That carried over to the game when he limited the Braves, who have lost five of six, to one run and three hits with five strikeouts and two walks.

“It’s my day,” Williams said. “I don’t like a whole lot of noise when I’m trying to get ready.”

Williams has never started a season 0-4. He outpitched Jaret Wright (2-3) to raise his career record against the Braves to 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA.

Atlanta committed three errors to hurt Wright, who lasted 5 2-3 innings and gave up four runs—one earned—on five hits. The Braves have scored one run in his last two starts.

“You have to believe in the guy next to you,” Wright said.

The Braves scored in the third on a leadoff double by Jesse Garcia, a sacrifice by Wright and a groundout by Mark DeRosa. They had only one runner in scoring position over the last six innings.

“He wasn’t putting anything over the plate,” said Chipper Jones, who was 0-for-4 and didn’t get a ball out of the infield. “Guys are pressing and going up there and trying to do too much. We’re going through one of those streaks.”

The Braves have lost five of six, getting 13 runs in that span.

“I’m not going to take anything away from Woody Williams,” Marcus Giles said after going 0-for-4. “But we’re absolutely awful now offensively.”

The Cardinals loaded the bases to start the second when Ray Lankford reached on a fielding error by Garcia at shortstop and Scott Rolen and Edgar Renteria singled. With one out, Lankford scored on Matheny’s groundout, and a second run scored on La Roche’s fielding error on Williams’ grounder.

St. Louis added two runs in the sixth on Matheny’s squeeze and Tony Womack‘sRBI single and Renteria hit his third homer off C.J. Nitkowski in the eighth.

Notes

Braves RF J.D. Drew, playing his first game in St. Louis since being traded, made a nice play when he caught Renteria’s drive in the corner at the wall. Drew’s return was met with relative indifference. … Williams is 70-45 with a 3.72 ERA at night and 23-34 with a 4.96 ERA in day games. … Cardinals RF Reggie Sanders was a late scratch with an undisclosed illness. Sanders is ina 2-for-29 slump.

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