Cardinals 6, Giants 1
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—As a 37-year-old pitcher excelling in a young man’s game, Woody Williams knows most numbers mean very little. Still, his 100th victory was cause for celebration—particularly after besting Jason Schmidt and Barry Bonds to get it.
Williams worked 6 1-3 dominant innings for his fifth straight victory, and Scott Rolen’s first-inning homer stood up in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 6-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday night.
Both Williams and Schmidt entered the game with 99 wins, but Williams got to triple digits first, retiring the final 12 hitters he faced while nursing a one-run lead.
Williams (8-6) allowed five hits and two walks, even getting Bonds three times. When his teammates tacked on four late runs, and the Cardinals’ bullpen flawlessly finished, Williams had a highlight in his late-blooming career.
“I never thought I’d be around long enough to win 100 games with the way things started out and where I’ve come from,” said Williams, a former reliever who didn’t become a full-time starter until 1997 in Toronto. “For this to come against probably the best pitcher in the game, it’s pretty special.”
The right-hander needed 12 seasons to get his 100th victory, while the 31-year-old Schmidt already is in his 10th season.
But Williams has bloomed in his mid-30’s: He has 49 wins in the last four seasons.
“It’s just a number, but I’m very happy, no doubt about it,” Williams said.
It was Williams’ first win over the Giants since July 25, 2000. The rest of the Cardinals knew the importance of the moment—and they doused the pitcher with water after the game.
“He’s over the hill, but he can still pitch,” said a grinning Jim Edmonds, who drove in two runs.
“It’s hard to win one game in this league,” manager Tony La Russa said. “To get 100, that’s a magic number, especially to do it against a guy like Schmidt.”
Williams threw 11 pitches in an entertaining fifth-inning matchup against Bonds, who sent a foul ball soaring into McCovey Cove before flying out to deep right.
Schmidt couldn’t overcome his early mistake to Rolen, who hit a two-run shot on the first pitch he saw. St. Louis added the rest of its runs against San Francisco’s bullpen.
Schmidt (13-4) struck out 10 in seven innings, allowing six hits and two walks while losing his second straight start in San Francisco.
Mike Matheny and Albert Pujols added run-scoring singles for St. Louis, which has won each of Williams’ last nine starts. Four months into their best start since 1968, the Cardinals took two of three from San Francisco to split the season series at three games apiece.
Schmidt threw 128 pitches, retiring nine straight at one point—but in the first inning, Rolen hit a belt-high pitch more than 400 feet to center. It was the All-Star’s 25th homer of the season and second in two days.
“It was just two bad pitches,” Schmidt said. “Those are the two I want back. I got burned on them. I was overthrowing. It was just bad timing on my part.”
Schmidt’s next start is expected to be Saturday, when Chicago’s Greg Maddux will go for his 300th win in San Francisco.
Bonds put another foul ball into the water in the eighth, but Ray King got him on a groundout to complete 1 2-3 perfect innings of relief.
The Cardinals issued no intentional walks to Bonds in the series. When asked his strategy, La Russa quoted San Francisco manager Felipe Alou on the subject.
“When (Alou) was with Montreal, he said, ‘We’re here to be competitors, not cowards,”’ La Russa said. “In the right situation, we would have walked him.”
Right-hander Merkin Valdez, one of the Giants’ top pitching prospects, made his major league debut in the seventh. His first pitch was a 97 mph fastball to Pujols, who doubled off the wall and later scored on Edmonds’ single off Scott Eyre.
OF Ricky Ledee made an odd debut with the Giants, who acquired him from Philadelphia on Friday. Ledee was announced as the pinch-hitter for Schmidt in the seventh—but the Cardinals then replaced Williams with LHP King, and Ledee was replaced by Dustan Mohr. … Valdez was recalled Saturday to take the roster spot of RHP Jerome Williams, who went on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his arm. … The Cardinals’ road record is better than 28 teams’ home record this season. … Schmidt has struck out at least 10 in 20 games in his career.