Cardinals 9, Dodgers 4

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—The St. Louis Cardinals apparently have enough offensive punch—even with half of their regular position players on the disabled list.

Jim Edmonds and John Mabry hit two-run homers early and David Eckstein added a three-run shot late, powering the NL Central leaders to a 9-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday.

It’s going to be a while before right fielder Larry Walker, third baseman Scott Rolen, left fielder Reggie Sanders and catcher Yadier Molina are all sound enough to return. But Mabry, Abraham Nunez, John Rodriguez and Mike Mahoney are filling in just fine.

“It’s a good thing we’ve been able to come in and help out while a lot of these guys have been hurt,” Mabry said. “That’s part of the job when you sign on as a bench player. You just come to the park every day with that mind-set so that you’re ready to step in and the team doesn’t skip a beat. Hopefully, those guys can get back soon and give us a shot in the arm and are fresh for the stretch drive.”

Jeff Suppan (10-7) won his fourth straight road start, allowing four runs and seven hits in five innings. The last time he pitched at Dodger Stadium was on Oct. 10, when he beat the Dodgers 6-2 to clinch the NL division series.

Derek Lowe (7-11) lost for the seventh time in nine decisions, allowing five runs and eight hits over five innings—including Edmonds’ 19th homer and Mabry’s sixth.

It was the Cardinals’ second victory this year against Lowe, who pitched for Boston last season and wrapped up the Red Sox’s four-game World Series sweep of the Cardinals with a 3-0 win.

The right-hander threw eight innings of one-hit ball against Cincinnati last Monday despite pitching the last five frames with a large blister on his thumb.

“It was as bad today as it’s been all year,” Lowe said. “The medical staff did a really good job, as far as covering it, but we had to cover it up enough to where it wasn’t going to rip. Sometimes that takes a little bit away from the feel, but I should have easily pitched a lot better.”

Eckstein increased the Cardinals’ lead to 8-4 in the seventh, driving a 1-1 pitch from reliever Giovanni Carrara over the fence in left field for his third homer this season and first in 57 career at-bats at Dodger Stadium.

“That was probably the last thing on my mind, because I don’t hit that many. But I was finally able to hit one here,” said Eckstein, who has 20 home runs in 2,599 career at-bats. “Everyone in this clubhouse has made me a better player, so it’s been a lot of fun.”

Dodgers rookie reliever Jonathan Broxton, making his second big league appearance in as many days, struck out slugger Albert Pujols for the second time in as many at-bats. But he walked two batters and gave up an RBI single by John Rodriguez that made it 9-4.

Rodriguez, who was called up from the minors on July 18 to replace Sanders, has hit safely in all 10 games he has started.

“We miss the guys who play every day, but the guys who are out there are giving us an opportunity and helping us win,” said Pujols, who raised his RBI total to 84 with a first-inning double.

The Dodgers narrowed the gap to 5-3 in the fourth on Jeff Kent’s 19th home run and Jason Phillips’ eighth. In the fifth, pinch-hitter Hee-Seop Choi led off with a double and scored on Milton Bradley’s groundout, making it a one-run deficit.

Phillips, who has been struggling defensively behind the plate, played his third straight game at first base with promising rookie catcher Dioner Navarro starting his second straight game after Friday’s promotion from Triple-A Las Vegas.

Navarro is getting his chance because of his impressive offensive numbers in the minors—and the fact that Phillips has thrown out only 12 of 82 baserunners.

“I’m in the lineup, so I’m happy,” said Phillips, who was the New York Mets’ opening day first baseman last year. “Dioner’s a solid player and he’s the big prospect, so you want to see what we have to help the team win. We’re in striking distance, so basically it comes down to winning ballgames at all cost. And at this point, you do whatever you can to get in the playoffs.”

Edmonds, who capped a three-run first with a drive into the right-field pavilion that was estimated at 422 feet, has two homers and seven RBIs in his last three games after going 11-for-64. Mabry gave the Cardinals to 5-1 lead in the fourth with his sixth homer after a single by Mark Grudzielanek. It was the 20th home run allowed by Lowe, a career worst.

Notes

Edmonds was 1-for-14 lifetime against Lowe in the regular season before his home run. … Choi has been successful in three of his last four at-bats as a pinch-hitter after starting the season 1-for-19 in that role. … A ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Roger Owens, a peanut vendor at Dodger Stadium since the ballpark opened in 1962. Owens, whose distinctive style has earned him national recognition, stayed in character by tossing two bags of peanuts behind his back to home plate instead of baseballs.

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