Cards' Drew homers in third straight game to drop Brewers

Posted: Friday, September 27, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- J.D. Drew homered for the third consecutive game and Matt Morris rebounded from two shaky starts, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over the Milwaukee Brewers 9-1 Thursday night.

The NL Central champions won their fifth in a row to stay ahead of Arizona in the race for home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

St. Louis has won nine of 10 and 19 of 22. The Cardinals are an NL-best 19-5 in September.

On the brink of tying the major league record for strikeouts in a season, Milwaukee's Jose Hernandez was held out of the lineup.

Hernandez has struck out 188 times this season, one shy of the mark set by Bobby Bonds in 1970.

Eli Marrero hit a two-run homer for St. Louis, which opened a five-run lead against rookie right-hander Ben Diggins (0-4) after two innings.

Morris (17-9) went seven innings, giving up six hits while striking out four and walking one.

Expos 4, Marlins 3

MONTREAL -- Jamey Carroll singled home the go-ahead run in the sixth inning to lift Montreal over Florida.

Vladimir Guerrero had a single in four at-bats to remain one home run short of becoming the fourth player in major league history with 40 homers and 40 steals in the same season.

Derrek Lee hit a two-run homer for the Marlins, who are assured of their ninth losing season in the franchise's 10-year history. Florida fell to 77-82 with three games remaining.

Reds 1, Cubs 0

CHICAGO -- Danny Graves became the latest pitcher to contain Sammy Sosa, scattering four hits over six innings in Cincinnati's victory over Chicago.

Sosa, who needs two homers to become the first player to reach 50 in five seasons, went 1-for-4 with a strikeout and two groundouts. He hasn't homered in 22 plate appearances since Friday and has just five in the last 22 games, leaving his career total at 498.

Making only his fourth career start after 363 relief appearances, Graves (7-3) struck out a career-high seven.

Dodgers 6, Padres 5

LOS ANGELES -- Brian Jordan came through again, driving in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning as Los Angeles rallied to beat San Diego and keep its flickering playoff hopes alive.

The Dodgers (90-69) trail San Francisco (92-66) by 2 1/2 games in the NL wild-card race. Los Angeles has three games left against the Padres, while the Giants have three against Houston plus a possible makeup game Monday in Atlanta.

Any combination of two San Francisco wins or Los Angeles losses would clinch a postseason berth for the Giants and keep the Dodgers out of the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

Diamondbacks 4, Rockies 2

PHOENIX -- Randy Johnson pitched a six-hitter for his major league-leading 24th victory, and the Arizona Diamondbacks snapped a six-game losing streak by beating the Colorado Rockies 4-2 Thursday night.

Matt Williams tripled in three runs as the Diamondbacks (95-64) reduced their magic number to win the NL West to two. Arizona, which already has clinched a playoff berth, leads idle San Francisco (92-66) by 2 1/2 games.

Arizona outfielder Quinton McCracken had to be helped from the field after he fouled a ball off his left foot for the second time in the game in the seventh inning. The Diamondbacks already have lost outfielder Luis Gonzalez, infielder Craig Counsell and pitcher Brian Anderson to season-ending injuries.

Johnson (24-5) struck out eight to finish the regular season with 334. He has led the majors in strikeouts each of his four seasons with Arizona. His season strikeout total is the 10th-hghest in major league history.

Johnson, who walked two and hit a batter, has four complete games in his last seven starts and eight this season. After loading the bases in the ninth on a bunt single and a pair of walks, he retired Juan Pierre on a game-ending groundout.

Mark Little, getting a rare start in the outfield, added an RBI triple as Arizona ended its longest losing skid in two years.

Johnson pulled ahead of teammate Curt Schilling (23-7) for the most wins in the major leagues. Johnson's previous career-best was 21 victories last year.

Johnson, whose next start will be in Arizona's playoff opener, was 5-0 in five September outings and 11-1 over his last 13 starts. The Big Unit is 28-1 in September in the past 10 years.

If the Diamondbacks win the NL West, they would face St. Louis in the division series starting Tuesday. Both teams are 95-64, but the Cardinals won the season series 4-2 with a three-game sweep this week and would have the home-field advantage it they finish with identical records.

If Arizona is the wild card, it would open Wednesday at Atlanta.

Colorado's Brent Butler was ejected by plate umpire Joe West after arguing a called third strike in the seventh inning. It was the third time Butler struck out in three at-bats.

Randy Flores (0-2), making his second major league start, allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings in his second big league start. The Rockies are 0-8 at Arizona this season.

Johnson led off the third with a single, then Tony Womack reached safely on a bunt, his 1,000th major league hit. After the runners advanced on McCracken's sacrifice, Greg Colbrunn drew a two-out walk to load the bases.

Williams' standup triple to the right-center wall gave Arizona a 4-0 lead.

Colorado scored two unearned runs in the sixth after Jay Payton reached on Womack's fielding error at shortstop. Larry Walker singled, Todd Helton had an RBI double and Walker scored on Todd Zeile's groundout.

Notes: Helton was back in the lineup after missing two games to be with his wife for the birth of their daughter, the couple's first child. ... Arizona was back from a 2-7 road trip. ... Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly is more concerned about getting his players ready for the playoffs than winning the home-field advantage. ''I don't think the home-field advantage is that big a deal,'' he said before the game.

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