Cardinals 6, Dodgers 5, 11 innings
ST. LOUIS (AP)—The first five games of a perfect homestand, the St. Louis Cardinals made winning look easy. In the finale, they triumphed over adversity.
Closer Jason Isringhausen blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning, but Reggie Sanders rescued him with a pinch-hit RBI single in the 11th, giving the Cardinals a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers and their season-best ninth straight overall with a 6-5 victory on Sunday.
“You can’t expect them to roll over,” starting pitcher Woody Williams said. “It doesn’t matter how we win or who wins, we’re winning.”
Hector Luna tripled to the center-field wall on the first pitch from Giovanni Carrara (4-2) and scored when Sanders singled through a drawn-in infield. The Cardinals were 6-0 on the homestand to extend their winning streak at Busch Stadium to 10. They’ve won 14 of 16 overall.
Before Sunday, the Cardinals had outscored the opposition 28-8 on the homestand.
Sanders, the regular left fielder, is 7-for-13 as a pinch hitter with seven RBIs. When Sanders comes through in that situation, manager Tony La Russa usually jokes he’s not going to start anymore. Not this time.
“He’s been amazing as a pinch hitter,” La Russa said. “But he’ll play tomorrow.”
Luna is accustomed to coming off the bench, making his first start in six days. He was 2-for-5 with a two-run single in the fifth. Fellow reserve John Mabry hit a two-run homer for St. Louis, which also got three doubles from Jim Edmonds.
“Base hits,” Isringhausen said. “It happens. I felt good out there, felt strong, but I just left a couple of pitches over the plate.”
Ray King (5-2), the fifth St. Louis pitcher, struck out one in a scoreless 11th.
The Cardinals’ winning streak is the longest since a 10-game run in 2001. They hadn’t trailed during the streak until Adrian Beltre hit his NL-leading 44th homer in the second inning Sunday. Mabry quickly erased the deficit in the home half when he homered off Jeff Weaver.
The NL Central-leading Cardinals swept the West-leading Dodgers for the first time since June 23-25, 2000, extending their division lead to 17 1/2 games.
It wasn’t a perfect day for St. Louis. Larry Walker injured his right knee when he slipped fielding Jose Hernandez’s single in the fifth and went to the clubhouse. Walker had an MRI exam that revealed a small bone bruise but no structural damage, and he’s listed as day to day.
The Dodgers, who entered with a 4 1/2 -game lead in the West, have lost four of five and were 6-7 on a 13-game trip. Beltre’s homer ended a string of 19 consecutive scoreless innings by Cardinals starters over the last three games.
“It’s not a fantastic trip but it’s not a bad trip, either,” manager Jim Tracy said. “To come back in the manner which we did today, I was very pleased.”
A day after hitting his 300th career homer, Edmonds doubled and scored in the second, had an RBI double in the third, and doubled and scored in the fifth. He’s batting .400 in his last 33 games to raise his average to .313.
Williams worked seven innings and held the Dodgers to two runs and five hits, striking out six and not walking a batter. The Cardinals pitching staff’s streak of 32 innings without a walk ended when Julian Tavarez walked Shawn Green with two outs in the 10th.
Weaver lasted six innings, giving up five runs on eight hits. He lost for the first time since July 25, snapping his five-game winning streak.
“Our pitching staff was good the whole series,” Beltre said. “We just didn’t swing the bats.”
Dodgers SS Cesar Izturis left the game in the fourth due to stomach irritation. … Alex Cora was hitless in three at-bats and is 1-for-24 against Williams. … The Cardinals have 14 series sweeps. They have won 11 of their last 12 series and 17 of the last 19 and are a major league-best 38-11 since the All-Star break. … Beltre is in second place on the franchise single-season homer list, breaking a tie with Gary Sheffield (2000) and Duke Snider (1956). Shawn Green hit a club-record 49 homers in 2001. … The Cardinals are 79-2 when leading after eight innings.