Cardinals 8, Dodgers 4
LOS ANGELES (AP)—The St. Louis Cardinals put a resounding end to their batting slump Monday night—at least for one game.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa bemoaned his team’s feeble offense before the game, saying: “We’re not swinging well. We’re making soft outs.”
He sounded more positive afterward.
“A lot of hungry at-bats throughout the game—I hope we see more of that,” La Russa said. “If you look at the quality of the hitters, the hitting’s got to be there.”
The Cardinals entered with the majors’ lowest batting average (.234), fewest runs (110) and fewest homers (17), but had 10 hits and eight runs in the first three innings to make it easy for Brad Thompson in his third major league start.
Thompson (2-0), a 25-year-old right-hander, allowed eight hits and three runs in a career-high 6 2-3 innings while walking none and striking out three.
Jason Isringhausen got the final two outs for his 10th save in 11 chances. The Dodgers loaded the bases with one out against Randy Flores. Isringhausen walked Olmedo Saenz with two outs to force in a run before retiring Ramon Martinez on a grounder to short.
The Cardinals were shut out in four of their first 11 games this month and a major league-leading six times this season.
They entered having scored only 33 runs in their previous 14 games, but had no trouble against Brett Tomko (1-4), who allowed nine hits and eight earned runs in 2 1-3 innings.
“He just had a rough night out there, and it started from the first pitch,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “He just put a few too many pitches in the nitro zone.”
Eckstein, who entered hitting .207, had three hits in a game for the first time since opening day.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “Everyone contributed— that’s what this club needs to be successful.”
Duncan’s two-run homer in the second snapped a 93-inning homerless drought for St. Louis, which hadn’t hit one since Duncan connected 13 days earlier against Milwaukee. The Cardinals went 10 games without a homer—their longest such streak since May 1993 when they didn’t hit one in 13 games.
“We’ll be all right. We’ve just been in a little funk,” Duncan said. “It’s part of the game and I think everyone understands that. You just have to keep grinding. We talked about just trying to put together good at-bats.”
And that’s precisely what the Cardinals did in the first three innings.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Dodgers, who lost all seven games against the Cardinals last season and their final two in 2005.
“I’m not saying anything,” La Russa said with a smile when asked about that streak. “They’ve got a very good club.”
The Cardinals scored three runs in each of the first two innings and two more in the third off Tomko.
Adam Kennedy and Duncan singled to start the game, and one out later, Jim Edmonds hit a check-swing RBI double. Scott Rolen followed with a sacrifice fly before Juan Encarnacion’s RBI single made it 3-0.
Kennedy hit a run-scoring double in the second, and Duncan followed by hitting a full-count pitch into the right-field bullpen for his sixth homer, making it 6-0.
“It was a bad day at the office. Nothing went right,” Tomko said. “It was a little bit of everything—bad location, bad pitches, and I fell behind a lot of guys. I wasn’t throwing many strikes. They kept swinging and I couldn’t stop the bleeding.”
Jeff Kent hit his 350th career homer to open the fourth and Wilson Betemit hit another solo shot in the seventh. Rafael Furcal, who went 4-for-5, hit a two-out RBI single later in the seventh to knock out Thompson.
The win was the 9,000th regular-season victory in franchise history for the Cardinals, who first played in 1892. Only four other teams have won 9,000 or more games, with the New York-San Francisco Giants No. 1 at 9,495. … Furcal singled in the first and third innings, giving him hits in eight straight official at-bats—one shy of the Los Angeles record set by Ron Cey in 1977. The streak ended when Furcal struck out in the fifth. … Encarnacion’s first-inning single was his first hit of the season in his second game. He made his 2007 debut Sunday in San Diego after missing the Cardinals’ first 34 games while recovering from left wrist surgery. … Dodgers reliever Chad Billingsley struck out the side in the eighth and retired the Cardinals in order in the ninth. … The slumping Rolen, who entered with three hits in 40 at-bats, went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly.