St. Louis leads series 2-0, but injury to Rolen dampens enthusiasm

Cardinals keep slugging away at D-Backs

Posted: Friday, October 04, 2002

PHOENIX -- They battered Randy Johnson and eased past Curt Schilling. The St. Louis Cardinals headed home needing one victory to finish off the World Series champions Arizona Diamondbacks.

But an injury to Scott Rolen dampened the Cardinals' 2-1 triumph over the Diamondbacks on Thursday.

Miguel Cairo's ninth-inning single off reliever Mike Koplove drove in Edgar Renteria with the go-ahead run for the Cardinals, who swept the first two games of the best-of-five series.

''A split would have been good for us,'' said Chuck Finley, who blanked Arizona for 6 1-3 innings. ''Obviously, coming out of here 2-0 looks very, very good. This is what we dreamed of doing.''

Rolen left after he was clipped in the left side by pinch-runner Alex Cintron while scooping up a grounder in the seventh inning. X-rays were negative, and the preliminary diagnosis was a sprained shoulder. Further tests were scheduled for Friday in St. Louis.

''I do think that his continuing to play for sure in this series is very questionable,'' manager Tony La Russa said. ''We'll have our fingers crossed through tomorrow, but I think there's a chance he might have played his last game (this year).''

The Diamondbacks, who had trailed 1-0 since the third inning on J.D. Drew's two-out homer off Schilling, tied it with an unearned run in the eighth.

Quinton McCracken doubled over the outstretched glove of the right fielder Drew to score Greg Colbrunn, who had reached on a fielding error by Albert Pujols -- Rolen's replacement at third.

With the late Darryl Kile's widow Flynn again in the stands, as she was in Tuesday night's opener, the inspired Cardinals moved within a win of returning to the NL championship series for the second time in three seasons.

''They're the world champions and will keep fighting until the end,'' the Cardinals' Fernando Vina said, ''but it will be a nice flight back to St. Louis.''

After enduring the death of Kile and longtime broadcaster Jack Buck during the season, St. Louis can complete the first-round sweep with a victory at Busch Stadium on Saturday. Miguel Batista pitches for the Diamondbacks against Andy Benes.

Finley, two months shy of his 40th birthday, held Arizona to four hits innings before leaving with a muscle cramp in his pitching hand.

Acquired from Cleveland on July 19, Finley went 7-4 with the Cardinals. The left-hander had been 0-2 in the postseason coming in, losing twice to Seattle in the first round last year.

''You can't give him enough credit,'' La Russa said. ''The first couple of innings, he made great pitches, then he pitched even better. He showed up so big for us.''

The Cardinals pelted Johnson for 10 hits in a 12-2 rout Tuesday night. Schilling, who had struggled in his last seven starts, proved a much tougher challenge. He scattered seven hits, struck out seven and walked one.

''Sometimes you do your job and still get beat,'' he said.

Even the 2-2 pitch that Drew hit into the left-field seats was a good one.

''That was not your typical hanging home run pitch,'' Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly said. ''It was a fastball down around the knees.''

Catcher Damian Miller called it ''a perfect pitch.''

''It was down and away, maybe off the plate a little bit and below the knees,'' Miller said. ''It probably wasn't even a strike, but J.D.'s a pretty good hitter.''

Drew had one of two three-run homers off Schilling last week in Arizona's 6-1 loss in St. Louis, but struck out in his first at-bat Thursday.

''That pitch was one I had used to get him out several times,'' Schilling said.

A year ago, Schilling beat the Cardinals 1-0 in his first division series start. In Game 5, Drew's eighth-inning homer off Schilling tied the score 1-1, but Arizona advanced on Tony Womack's RBI single in the ninth.

Schilling, 27-3 in the regular season, escaped a jam in the seventh inning Thursday.

Mike Matheny singled with one out, then was forced at second on Finley's sacrifice attempt. That brought up Vina, who was hit in the leg near the strike zone while attempting to bunt. Vina got into a heated argument with plate umpire Bill Miller, who ordered the runner back to first, and Vina singled on the next pitch, putting runners at the corners. Schilling walked Drew on four pitches, loading the bases, then struck out Jim Edmonds to the cheers of the capacity crowd.

Renteria, the hero of Game 7 for Florida in the 1997 World Series and persistent troublemaker against Arizona, led off the ninth with a single, then was sacrificed to second.

Cairo, who had entered during a double-switch an inning earlier, singled up the middle.

''I'm blessed right now,'' Cairo said. ''I'm in the best organization in baseball. They have been treating me so well. To get that base hit makes it much better. What a beautiful day today for me.''

Jason Isringhausen pitched a perfect ninth for the save. Vina was 4-for-5, making him 7-for-11 in the series.

Chad Moeller, pinch-hitting for Schilling with two outs in the seventh, singled and Tony Womack walked. Cintron then replaced Moeller as a pinch runner.

Junior Spivey hit a grounder to Rolen at third. As Rolen picked up the ball, Cintron caught the third baseman's shoulder with a knee. The collision knocked off Rolen's glove and sent him spinning to the ground. Cintron was called out for interference.

Braves 7, Giants 3

ATLANTA -- Kevin Millwood is back, and so are the Atlanta Braves.

Millwood allowed only three hits in six innings and the Braves evened their NL division series with San Francisco at one game apiece, beating the Giants 7-3 Thursday night.

Filling in for Greg Maddux, Millwood earned his first postseason win since 1999 with a dominating performance, which neatly summed up his recovery from two dismal seasons.

Millwood, who threw only 72 pitches, was replaced by a pinch-hitter shortly after he hit the ground on a fielding play at first base. He wasn't hurt.

Barry Bonds went 1-for-4, hitting a massive, meaningless homer off John Smoltz in the ninth. It was only his second postseason homer, the other coming off Atlanta's Tom Glavine in the 1992 NL championship series.

The Braves wasted no time bouncing back from an 8-5 loss in Game 1. Chipper Jones had an RBI single in the first, and Atlanta went ahead for good when Javy Lopez and Vinny Castilla led off the second with back-to-back homers off Kirk Rueter.

Mark DeRosa, making his first postseason start, doubled his first time up and came in to score on Rafael Furcal's bloop single, capping a three-run second.

DeRosa drove in two runs of his own in the fourth, slicing a triple into the right-field corner. He trotted home to make it 6-1 on Benito Santiago's passed ball, the All-Star catcher's second defensive miscue of the series.

Rueter lasted only three-plus innings, allowing seven hits and six earned runs. In his two previous postseason appearances, he gave up one earned run in 11 1-3 innings.

Millwood's only major mistakes wound up in the seats. J.T. Snow hit an opposite-field homer in the second, and Rich Aurilia went deep in the sixth. Santiago had the other hit off Millwood, a leadoff single in the fifth.

The Atlanta starter threw just 18 balls, struck out seven and walked none. His most trying play came in the sixth, when first baseman Julio Franco let a grounder by Kenny Lofton skip off his glove. Franco recovered and flipped to Millwood, who stretched far enough to get Lofton before tumbling to the dirt.

On the very next pitch, Aurilia homered into the left-field seats. Jeff Kent grounded out to end the inning, and Millwood was done for the night with the Braves holding a five-run cushion.

Millwood was originally scheduled to pitch Game 3, but the Braves moved him up because they were worried about a blister on Maddux's pitching hand.

That turned out to be a huge break for Atlanta, which avoided falling behind 0-2 in the best-of-5 series before it shifted to San Francisco.

Maddux is set to go against Jason Schmidt in Game 3 Saturday.

Bonds, who heard derisive chants of ''Barry! Barry!'' from the near-sellout crowd of 47,167, took a called third strike from Millwood leading off the second. He got a bit of redemption in the ninth, nearly reaching the club level down the right-field line when Smoltz challenged him with a big lead.

Still, Bonds is hitting just .200 in the postseason for his career.

Millwood had 35 wins in his first two full seasons in the major leagues, and he was a key player for the Braves in the 1999 postseason.

He pitched only the fifth one-hitter in postseason history against Houston in the division series, then came back to save the next game.

Millwood also beat the New York Mets in a classic NL championship series before getting blown out by the Yankees in his only World Series start.

The last two years, he had nothing but misery.

An NL Cy Young Award contender coming into 2000, Millwood slumped to 10-13 and took the loss in St. Louis' clinching victory in the opening round of the playoffs.

Last season, Millwood spent more than two months on the DL with a sore shoulder and finished 7-7. His only postseason appearance was a one-inning mopup job.

This year, Millwood reclaimed his place as a top starter. After going 18-8 in the regular season, he came through in the biggest game of the year thus far for Atlanta.

The Braves made the most of their eight hits. Lopez and Castilla, who had terrible seasons but swung better the past few weeks, became only the second duo in Atlanta history to hit consecutive postseason homers.

It was the bottom half of the order that did most of the damage for the Braves. The 6-7-8 hitters -- Lopez, Castilla and DeRosa -- went 5-for-9 with four RBIs and six runs.

Lopez homered in the first two games of the series after batting only .233 with 11 homers in the regular season.

Notes: The only other Atlanta tandem to hit back-to-back homers in the postseason were Ryan Klesko and Brian Jordan in Game 4 of the 1999 NL championship series. ... With two runners on in the seventh, San Francisco's David Bell fouled off four straight 3-2 offerings from Mike Remlinger before striking out on the 10th pitch. ... Snow's homer was the first by the Giants in the postseason since Game 2 of the 2000 division series against the Mets. ... The crowd was more than 5,000 larger than the Game 1 turnout of 41,903. ... The Braves had only one hit after the fourth inning against three San Francisco relievers.



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