ST. LOUIS (AP)—Barry Larkin’s second error of the season was a very big one.
“You don’t want to have to play like we can’t make errors out there,” Larkin said. “It’s really tough when you make errors and it ends up costing you a ballgame.”
Jim Edmonds homered for the second straight game to help the Cardinals complete their seventh sweep, and third in the last four series. The NL Central leaders are a season-best 20 games above .500 and 6-0 on the homestand with three games to go, outscoring their opponents 34-10.
Manager Tony La Russa has been talking about being 20 games above .500 for some time. Now that the team is there, he wants more.
“That’s kind of a magic number,” he said. “It means something, it doesn’t mean a lot, though. You get some magic numbers in September, then you can start getting really excited.”
The Cardinals swept the Reds in a three-game series at home for the first time since May 15-17, 1987. They’re 5-1 against Cincinnati, which got a homer from Brandon Larson.
The Cardinals have won eight in a row at home overall and 13 of 15.
Ken Griffey Jr. was 0-for-3 with a walk and is 8-for-44 with one RBI in 12 games since hitting his 500th homer on June 20 in St. Louis.
Reds right fielder Ryan Freel left the game in the sixth after he injured his left leg slamming into an unpadded section of the wall while chasing a foul ball. Freel was 6-for-11 with an RBI and a run scored in the series.
X-rays were negative, and Freel was set to fly with the team to Milwaukee, then catch a flight to Cincinnati to see the team doctor.
“He’s fearless, he doesn’t care who he crashed into,” Cincinnati manager Dave Miley said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s one of his teammates or the woman he hit in the stands while going for the ball.”
In the seventh, Edgar Renteria went to second on Larkin’s wide throw to first that deflected off Juan Castro’s glove, the second error in 58 games at the position for the 12-time All-Star. With one out, Sanders bounced a single up the middle off John Riedling (4-2) to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.
“It just happened to tail on me,” Larkin said. “I don’t think I did anything different, I don’t think I rushed it, I just made a bad throw.
“As soon as it happened I looked up and he’s on second base. It’s like ‘Oh lord, here we go.”’
Larkin also rolled in a relay throw to the plate on Renteria’s RBI double in the first.
Woody Williams and the St. Louis bullpen combined to retire 13 of the last 14 Cincinnati hitters. Ray King (2-0) got the last two outs in the seventh and the first out in the eighth. Jason Isringhausen worked a perfect ninth for his 20th save in 24 chances.
Womack led off the bottom of the first with an infield hit and scored on Renteria’s double to give the Cardinals the lead. Larson ended a 1-for-17 slump with his third homer in the fourth, tying the score at 1.
Edmonds had been 1-for-8 against Jesus Sanchez before hitting his 18th homer, and second in two days, to put the Cardinals ahead 2-1 in the fourth.
Williams walked a season-high six in 6 1-3 innings, laboring through 124 pitches and leaving with the game tied. He allowed two runs on four hits with three strikeouts, and is 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in his last five starts.
“It was just sloppy,” Williams said. “But when I needed to, I made pitches.”
Sanchez also pitched effectively in his second start of the season, givingup two runs and seven hits in six innings.
Plate umpire John Hirschbeck left the game due to illness after 3 1/2 innings. Wally Bell, who had been at 1B, replaced him. The game was run by three umpires the rest of the way. … Only three of Edmonds’ HRs have come against LHPs, but the last two have come vs. lefties. … Williams’ previous high for walks in a game was three. … Cardinals 3B Scott Rolen is 13-for-29(.448) during a nine-game hitting streak.