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Cardinals take three of four from Reds

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The second start to Woody Williams' season has
been almost perfect.

Williams pitched six scoreless innings and Jim Edmonds and
Albert Pujols homered as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the
Cincinnati Reds 7-3 Monday night, taking three of four from the NL
Central leaders.

"My mechanics were off, but shoot, are you kidding me?"
Williams said. "I'll take that every time. I'm not a beggar."

The Cardinals have won nine of 11, shaving the Reds' lead to
three games. They outscored Cincinnati 23-12 in the series.

"It's just nice we're starting to play competitive baseball,"
Williams said. "For so long, we were just getting run over."

Williams (1-0) hasn't allowed an earned run in 12 innings after
spending more than five weeks on the disabled list with a strained
muscle in his left side. He allowed five hits, striking out five
and walking one, throwing 94 pitches.

"I was fighting my mechanics most of the night, and I guess
that's why I threw so many pitches," Williams said. "I got by
with a lot of pitches that usually if they're on top of their game,
they don't let me get by with, but I'll definitely take it."

Williams allowed three consecutive hits in the fifth but escaped
damage when Juan Encarnacion was out at the plate on a close play
after a relay from Edmonds in center field on Austin Kearns'
single.

"Obviously, I thought he was safe but I don't make the calls,"
said Kearns, who was standing on second. "It looked to me like he
was in there, but that's just my opinion."

The play loomed larger after Jason LaRue hit his first homer of
the season, a three-run shot off Dave Veres in the eighth. The
homer ended a 15-inning scoreless streak by the St. Louis bullpen,
which hadn't allowed an earned run in 27 innings.

"I was part of that," Veres said. "The end of it, too."

Edmonds hit his 10th homer, a two-run shot off Jimmy Haynes
(3-5) in the third, to give the Cardinals a 4-0 lead. Pujols hit
his seventh with two outs in the fifth for a 5-0 lead.

Tino Martinez got St. Louis started with a two-run single in the
first. He also singled and scored on Edgar Renteria's double in the
sixth and is 9-for-25 (.360) against Reds pitching with two homers
and seven RBI.

Martinez has eight hits in his last 18 at-bats overall, raising
his average to .224 after a slow start. He has at least one RBI in
six of the last seven games, totaling 10 in that stretch.

Pinch-hitter Eduardo Perez added a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

Haynes lasted five innings, giving up seven runs on six hits.

"It was a rough night," Haynes said. "You can't make mistakes
against a good-hitting club like that. They make you pay."

Game notes
Williams is 4-1 with a 1.88 ERA in seven starts at Busch
Stadium. He's 4-1 with a 2.72 ERA for his career against the Reds.
... St. Louis Rams players Torry Holt, Dexter McCleon, Dre' Bly and
Dustin Cohen donned Cardinals uniforms and took batting practice
before the game. McCleon hit a home run. ... Renteria left the game
with a mild left abdominal strain suffered running the bases on an
RBI double in the sixth. The shortstop committed his first error
since April 17 when he bobbled Sean Casey's grounder in the first.
He has only three errors after totaling 97 the previous four years.
... Martinez is 9-for-18 against Haynes. ... The Reds completed a
5-3 trip.