Jim Edmonds tripled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning after their closer allowed the tying run to score in the top half, and the Cardinals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 Friday night to reduce their magic number for clinching the NL Central to three.
“That’s extra special, when you get your heart broken in the top of the ninth,” manager Tony La Russa said. “It was a beautiful swing.”
Mike Matheny and John Mabry homered for the Cardinals, who won a series opener for the first time since Sept. 3. The Cardinals, who stopped Arizona’s three-game winning streak, have lost three straight series for the first time all season and won for just the fourth time in 10 games.
“We got a little flat there for a week or two,” Edmonds said. “Hopefully we can turn it around.”
A day after making a season-high four errors, the Cardinals improved some. Still, right fielder Larry Walker lost a ball in the lights for a double in the seventh and Woody Williams balked in a run later in the inning.
Isringhausen (4-2) allowed a tying RBI double in the ninth to pinch-hitter Alan Zinter, who had been 1-for-15 as a pinch hitter coming in. Isringhausen blew a save for the seventh time in 49 chances.
“I’m tired of being picked up,” Isringhausen said. “I was ahead in the count and was supposed to bounce a curveball, and I left it right over the middle of the plate.”
Williams, who has lost just once in 17 starts since June 13, gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings. Williams dominated early, not allowing a hit until Josh Kroeger lined a ball off the right-field wall in the fifth, but his bullpen blew a lead for him for the third straight start.
“All in all, I’m pleased,” Williams said. “Nobody feels worse than Izzy. It’s just a shame because I know he’s going to go home and beat himself up.”
Matheny hit his fifth homer off Brandon Webb leading off the third. Webb and manager Al Pedrique were ejected by plate umpire Jerry Layne after Webb hit Williams on the next pitch. Williams’ bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the fourth made it 2-0.
Webb was surprised he was ejected.
“I was shocked,” he said. “All of a sudden, he threw his arms up and pointed towards the dugout, and I was like, ‘You got to be kidding me? At least give me a warning.”’
Williams was surprised, too.
“I feel bad for the other pitcher,” he said. “He’s not trying to hit me.”
Williams balked in a run in the seventh. Three-quarters of the way through his delivery, Williams realized he had the wrong grip for the pitch that was called and he said he didn’t want to hurt Matheny.
“I just got a little confused,” Williams said. “I just wish there was a hole down there, I would have crawled in it.”
Diamondbacks reliever Lance Cormier made the defensive play of the game with a behind-the-back stab of Edmonds’ smash up the middle to end the third. … Doug DeVore is 3-for-17 as a pinch hitter after striking out in the sixth. … Tony Womack is batting .357 (15-for-42) after singling in the eighth, extending his hitting streak to 10. … Edgar Renteria was hitless in three at-bats with a walk and is in a 1-for-28 slump. … The Cardinals are 27-17 in one-run decisions this year after going 14-25 last year. … St. Louis has won 12 of 14 at home.