Morris earns 50th win as starter


ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Matt Morris wanted to finish what he started.

Morris pitched eight innings of two-hit ball to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 3-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on
Friday night. He wanted to pitch the ninth, but St. Louis manager
Tony La Russa lifted him after 119 pitches.

"When it's my day to go out there, I want to go as long as I
can,'' said Morris, who walked three and struck out seven. "I am
hungry for nine innings every time. I'm selfish. As a starting
pitcher, I think it's OK to be selfish.''

Of course, La Russa didn't see it that way.

"You want him to throw 140?'' La Russa asked. "He wanted to go
out there. He wasn't really aware how much he had worked. He just
knew he was feeling good. But he was facing 3, 4, 5 (hitters). You
think he's going to work through those guys? No. Absolutely not.

"If we can't hold a three-run lead with our bullpen, then we're
not good enough. And we are good enough.''

Morris (9-4) allowed singles in the first and second innings. In
all, he retired 21 of the final 23 batters he faced, allowing only
two walks. Morris retired the final 18 Royals he faced in his
victory over Kansas City on June 8.

Steve Kline got the final out in the ninth for his second save.
Dave Veres began the ninth, gave up a one-out double to Mike
Sweeney and retired Joe Randa before yielding to Kline.

It was Morris' 50th victory as a starter. He also drove in a run
with an RBI single in the fourth.

"He's one of the best pitchers in the National League and he
showed it again,'' Kansas City manager Tony Pena said.

The Roylas put two runners on base in the first inning -- the
only time they had two baserunners in the same inning. Carlos
Febles singled with one out in the first and advanced on a
groundout. Sweeney drew a walk before Randa flew out.

"The first couple of innings usually make or break me,'' Morris
said. "They hit some balls, but they were right at somebody. I was
getting the balls up a little bit, but they were hit at guys so
that gave me some confidence.''

Right fielder J.D. Drew made a fine running, leaping catch of a
ball hit by Brent Mayne in the second.

"Morris had a good pace to his game,'' Mayne said. "He threw
all his pitches. How many hits did we get off him? Two? That would
make him the story for them.''

One Royals player reached third base. In the ninth, Sweeney went
to third on a Randa ground out.

The shutout marked the eighth time this season Kansas City has
been blanked in a game.

Morris has won 19 of 24 decisions. He's won 18 of his last 24
home starts and is 32-15 at Busch Stadium.

"I got in the groove and I was making pitches,'' Morris said.

Eli Marrero gave Morris the only run he needed in the second
inning. With one out, Marrero hit a 2-1 offering from Miguel
Asencio (1-1) over the left-field wall.

Asencio pitched five innings, allowing six hits and a walk. He
hit two batters and struck out one.

"He didn't throw that bad,'' Pena said. "The only reason I
pulled him out of the game in the fifth inning because I didn't see
good velocity on the ball. He was getting tired and I didn't want
to push him too hard.''

The Cardinals scored two runs in the fourth. Marrero and Mike
DeFelice each singled with one out. Morris looped a single over
first to drive in Marrero. Fernando Vina's sacrifice fly scored
DeFelice to make it 3-0.

"I finally got a slug bunt,'' Morris said. "My thumb still
hurts. It was a set play. I was supposed to get the ball on the
ground. In this case, it worked out. I don't even know if I got the
right sign. It worked out for me.''

Game notes
The Cardinals are 6-5 without OF Jim Edmonds in the lineup.
Edmonds, eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday, hurt his
right wrist sliding into home plate against Pittsburgh on May 31
... Cardinals reliever Jason Isringhausen was evaluated by team
physician Dr. George Paletta on Thursday. He was given an MRI exam
and it revealed Isringhausen, who has 15 saves, has a slight strain
to the flexor muscle in his right forearm. He last pitched June 4
at Cincinnati. He is expected to pitch this weekend ... The Royals
are 11-21 on the road this season.