“I can’t take anything away from him or the Cardinals,” Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. “If they aren’t the best team in the National League, I don’t know who is.”
The NL Central-leading Cardinals have swept five three-game series, including two of the last three, and this one came after they lost three in a row at Pittsburgh. They finished 11-1 in interleague play, the best in the majors in the eight years that the AL and NL have been playing, edging a 16-2 record by the Oakland A’s in 2002.
Manager Tony La Russa credited preparation by pitching coach Dave Duncan and bullpen coach Marty Mason.
“It requires a lot of extra work for just three games,” La Russa said. “We had good information for our pitchers and catchers and they executed.”
Edmonds, who returned to center field Saturday after a week-long absence due to a groin injury, made the defensive play of the game to end the fourth. He charged the ball on Jolbert Cabrera’s two-out single and threw to the plate on the fly, catching Bret Boone trying to score from second by about two steps.
“I’ve said it before, there isn’t anybody in either league that throws with more strength and accuracy than Jim Edmonds,” La Russa said. “He throws a beautiful ball, and then you’ve got one of the toughest guys behind the plate.”
Catcher Mike Matheny absorbed a collision from Boone, hanging on to the ball.
Suppan (7-5) departed after walking pinch-hitter Dave Hansen with one out in the eighth. After King got an out, Winn hit a drive to the gap, which left fielder So Taguchi, a defensive replacement in the seventh, got his glove on but could not hold on to the ball.
Suppan matched a season high with seven strikeouts and walked two. The Mariners got runners into scoring position only twice on Pineiro’s one-out double in the third and Boone’s leadoff double in the fourth.
“You’ve got to go out there and keep your team in the game,” said Suppan, who in his last two starts has given up two runs on six hits in 15 1-3 innings. “It’s a matter of trying to throw a zero up there and keeping guys off base, and building on it from start to start.”
Suppan entered the game 1-4 with a 7.59 ERA against the Mariners. He’s 5-0 with an NL-leading 1.93 ERA on the road, but won for only the second time in seven decisions at home.
Pineiro, 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in his previous four starts, lasted seven innings and gave up two runs on six hits with three strikeouts and three walks. His only trouble came in the sixth when Albert Pujols and Rolen started the inning with doubles to break the scoreless tie.
“It was great pitching all around,” Pineiro said. “He outpitched me by one run.”
Rolen went to third on a groundout and scored on Sanders’ sacrifice fly.
Jason Isringhausen got the last four outs for 18th save in 22 chances andfirst in eight days. He’s pitched in only two games since then.
Edgar Martinez was 16-for-31 against Suppan with two homers and five doubles before grounding into an inning-ending force play as a pinch hitter to end the seventh. “Getting him out right there was huge,” Suppan said. … Edgar Renteria was 0-for-4, ending a 10-game hitting streak. … The Cardinals have won 10 consecutive home series, dating to April. … The Cardinals reached the halfway point with a 49-32 record. In their last seven playoff seasons, they’ve been in first place four times and second place twice at this juncture. … The Mariners were 0-for-15 with runners in scoring position the last twogames before Winn’s hit.