ST. LOUIS (AP)—Lately, it’s been one big play after another for Jim Edmonds.
Edmonds made his first start in center field Saturday after an eight-day break to rest a groin injury.
“Sometimes a couple of days off is good for some people,” Edmonds said. “I’m not going to say I’m doing much better, but as long as I’m going out there and getting some opportunities, I can’t complain.”
Matt Morris (9-6) overcame a shaky second to work seven solid innings for St. Louis (51-32), which won its fifth straight to improve the NL’s best record.
“If this was the end of September it would have a lot of meaning,” manager Tony La Russa said. “Here it is, early July. It’s a footnote.”
The Cardinals have outscored their opponents 30-8 in the first five games of a nine-game homestand. They have won 12 of their last 14 at home, including seven straight.
Ken Griffey Jr. was 3-for-4 with a three singles. He’s 8-for-41 with one RBI in 11 games since hitting his 500th homer on June 20 in St. Louis off Morris.
“Gabe had done a hell of a job for us,” manager Dave Miley said. “So, I guess he was due.”
Edmonds received two standing ovations for robbing Adam Dunn of a homer to straightaway center in the second, the first one live and the second after fans watched a replay on the scoreboard.
Edmonds used the soft covering on the center-field wall as a launching pad, reaching up to steal a potential two-run shot.
“I knew I hit it off the end,” Dunn said. “I didn’t know it carried that far and when it’s that close to the wall, there’s no doubt he’s making a catch.”
Edmonds made a diving catch to take a hit away from Wily Mo Pena on Monday, threw out a runner at the plate on Sunday and homered with three RBIs on Saturday.
“We miss him when he’s not playing,” La Russa said. “When he’s back we’re a better team, there’s no doubt about it.”
Edmonds latest great grab helped Morris escape a rocky second inning.
The Reds bunched four hits and scored three runs against the right-hander, including a sacrifice fly near the warning track in left from pitcher Jose Acevedo, who had been 2-for-28 with 16 strikeouts.
“That was a terrible inning altogether,” Morris said. “You get a boost like (Edmonds’ catch) you should be able to make pitches and get out of it.”
In Morris’ last five innings, the Reds totaled three hits and grounded into two double plays.
“Like all of the good pitchers, you’ve got to get him early and often,” Dunn said. “We got him early, we just didn’t get him often.”
Acevedo worked six innings, allowing two runs on four hits.
The Cardinals have 52 quality starts, most in the majors. Morris has worked six or more innings in all except one of his 18 starts. … Morris is 5-1 in his last seven starts. … Ryan Freel is 8-for-14 in his last threegames and is 16-for-35 during an eight-game hitting streak.