Cardinals 7, Dodgers 6

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—Larry Walker is doing more than just going along for the ride. In fact, he might be the player who puts the St. Louis Cardinals over the top.

Walker went 4-for-5 with two homers and three RBIs, powering the NL Central leaders to a 7-6 victory over Los Angeles on Sunday and ending the Dodgers’ five-game winning streak.

The three-time NL batting champion has 14 homers this season, eight in 27 games since he was acquired in a trade with Colorado on Aug. 6. It was Walker’s 29th career multihomer game and first with St. Louis.

“Hitting the ball out of the ballpark isn’t my objective,” said Walker, who has 365 career homers. “We’ve got thunderous bats up and down the lineup, so I’m really just trying to get on base and set the table for these big guys behind me.”

Despite the victory, the Cardinals ended their first losing road trip of the season with a 2-4 record. But they increased their division lead over Chicago to 17 games and reduced their magic number to five for clinching the division.

“We played some sloppy baseball these last few days, played bad defense and didn’t pitch too well, so it was just good to get a win, go home and then regroup a little bit after a nice day off,” closer Jason Isringhausen said after his 41st save tied Florida’s Armando Benitez for the NL lead.

Chris Carpenter (15-5) allowed six runs—five earned—and eight hits in five innings in his first career appearance against the Dodgers. The right-hander, who entered with the lowest run support on the Cardinals’ staff (3.9 per game), struck out six and walked one.

“I don’t put a whole lot of emphasis on run support. I could care less. My job is to go out and not give up runs,” Carpenter said. “I felt that I could have done a better job of getting deeper into the game. I didn’t, but fortunately they got some runs for me today, the bullpen did a great job.”

Isringhausen, the fifth St. Louis pitcher, retired all four batters he faced to close it out.

The Dodgers, who lead the NL West by five games over San Francisco, came up short in their attempt to reverse the three-game sweep the Cardinals put on them last week at Busch Stadium.

“We didn’t play good baseball when we played those guys in their place, so we were determined this time around to play better. And we did,” center fielder Steve Finley said. “These were three great games here.”

The Dodgers’ 24th sellout crowd pushed their home attendance over 3 million for a record 19th time, and ninth year in succession. The last time they drew 3 million and finished in first place was 1985, when they lost to the Cardinals in the NLCS on Jack Clark’s Game 6 home run off Tom Niedenfuer.

St. Louis took a 7-6 lead in the sixth against Edwin Jackson (2-1), making his first relief appearance this season and second in the majors. Tony Womack drew a leadoff walk, went to third on Walker’s single and scored on a double-play grounder by Albert Pujols.

The Dodgers erased a 6-2 deficit with four runs in the fifth after loading the bases on singles by Tom Wilson, Cesar Izturis and Jayson Werth with none out.

Carpenter got a visit from pitching coach Dave Duncan, and Finley lined the right-hander’s next delivery to center field for a two-run single. Werth also scored when six-time Gold Glove winner Jim Edmonds misplayed the ball for his fourth error of the season.

Shawn Green drove in the tying run with a fielder’s choice grounder.

“We don’t give up. We know we have a chance to mount a rally, no matter what inning it is and no matter who’s on the mound,” Finley said.

Hideo Nomo allowed six runs and nine hits in 3 2-3 innings in his third start after missing two months because of inflammation in his rotator cuff. The right-hander gave up three hits by Walker, who entered 3-for-25 lifetime against Nomo.

“A lot of guys in here have struggled with Hideo,” Walker said. “So we had a meeting today and tried to come up with a game plan, take it out there and stick with it, get some men on base and make things happen.”

Walker, the second batter Nomo faced in his 300th major league game, homered to left-center. The Cardinals made it 2-0 in the third when Walker doubled and scored on Pujols’ line-drive single off third baseman Adrian Beltre’s glove. It was Pujols’ 110th RBI. The four-year veteran needs nine more for 500 in the majors.

The Dodgers tied it in the bottom half on Werth’s 13th homer after a one-out walk to Izturis.

The Cardinals batted around in the fourth, taking a 6-2 lead with RBI singles by Mike Matheny and Womack and a two-run homer by Walker.

Notes

Walker’s string of seven consecutive hits ended when he flied out in the eighth. He has 32 four-hit games in the majors, but has never had five hits. … Cardinals 3B Scott Rolen sat out his second straight game after fouling a ball off his left shin and straining his calf Friday. … St. Louis hasn’t lost more than three consecutive games all season.

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