Diamondbacks rout Cardinals in NLDS finale

Posted: Monday, October 15, 2001

PHOENIX -- Tony Womack turned disaster into delirium, and sent Curt Schilling and the Arizona Diamondbacks to the NL championship series.

Womack failed to get down a suicide-squeeze bunt, then singled home the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Diamondbacks over the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 Sunday night in the deciding Game 5 of their playoff series.

''You could just see it in his eyes,'' Arizona manager Bob Brenly said of Womack. ''He was a very focused man today. I was confident he would do something to help bail me out.''

In an awesome encore, Schilling won his second duel with Matt Morris in five days. Schilling allowed six hits, struck out nine and walked one in his third consecutive postseason complete game.

'It's a hair-pulling, nail-biting, teeth-grinding experience,'' Schilling said. ''We gave the fans everything they could want in this series. It was fitting that it would go down to the fifth game and the ninth inning.''

The Diamondbacks will begin their first NLCS on Tuesday at home against the Atlanta Braves.

Reggie Sanders' 447-foot home run off Morris put Arizona up 1-0 in the fourth inning. J.D. Drew's two-out homer off Schilling tied it at 1 in the eighth.

Schilling, still throwing 98 mph, struck out Edgar Renteria and Mike Matheny with a runner on second in the St. Louis ninth. After that, the drama really began.

Dave Veres relieved Morris to begin the inning and Matt Williams, brutalized by boos from the home crowd and hitless in 15 at-bats in the series, opened with a double -- narrowly missing a home run to right field when his drive hit the bullpen fence.

Damian Miller's sacrifice bunt advanced pinch-runner Midre Cummings to third. Steve Kline relieved, and intentionally walked pinch-hitter Greg Colbrunn to put runners on first and third with one out.

Brenly, who had used the suicide squeeze several times this season, called for it from Womack.

''Kline is death on left-handers and I thought we could take them by surprise,'' Brenly said.

But Womack couldn't make contact with a breaking ball in the dirt, and Cummings was tagged out easily.

Colbrunn alertly moved to second on the play, and Danny Bautista replaced him as a pinch-runner.

''This guy made one of the toughest pitches I've seen to squeeze,'' Womack said, ''so I just put it away. I had to put it away real quick and try to do what I do best. I knew I still had a strike left and just did the best I can.''

Four pitches later, Womack slapped a single to left field. Kerry Robinson fielded the ball cleanly and made a strong throw to the plate, but had no chance to get Bautista.

Womack hit three singles in the game. He did not have an RBI in the series until the winning one.

Williams and Womack were the Diamondbacks who were most vilified by fans and some in the media throughout the season, then came up with two of the biggest hits.

''When you believe in yourself, things can happen, and I think we both believed in ourselves,'' Womack said. ''We took the long road, but we believed in ourselves.''

Arizona, in its fourth year of existence, lost in its only other playoff appearance, in the first round to the New York Mets in 1999. In the deciding game of that series, Womack dropped a crucial fly ball.

Morris, winless in the series despite allowing just two runs in two starts, allowed seven hits, struck out six and walked three. He threw 130 pitches in eight innings.

Schilling threw 121 in his second win in the series.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa praised Schilling.

''Believe me,'' he said, ''this was a real bitter defeat for our club. But when a guy does that kind of job, a loss is easier to take.''

Randy Johnson was warming up in the bullpen for the Diamondbacks, but they never needed him. He is expected to start the opener against the Braves.

Drew's homer on an 0-1 pitch ended a string of 25 consecutive scoreless innings in the postseason for Schilling. The streak began for Philadelphia against Toronto in Game 5 of the 1993 World Series, and continued in Schilling's three-hit, 1-0 victory Tuesday.

Morris, who tied Schilling for the major league lead with 22 wins this season, made only one mistake. Sanders jumped on a 75 mph curveball and hit it into the eating area outside Friday's Front Row restaurant in the second deck in left field.

Schilling was aided by spectacular defense that led the majors in fielding percentage.

The defensive show was highlighted by consecutive leaping grabs of line drives by Womack at shortstop and second baseman Craig Counsell in the fourth inning.

Counsell also made a diving stop of Placido Polanco's grounder up the middle that probably saved a run in the third. Mark Grace made slick stop of a sharply hit, one-bouncer by Drew to end the third and center fielder Steve Finley made a running catch of Mike Matheny's hard shot to deep right-center to end the second.

The Cardinals finished the series 2-for-32 with runners in scoring position.

Schilling, a high school sports hero who came home to pitch for a contender, didn't allow a runner past first base after the third inning until Drew's game-tying homer.



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