Williams pitched a five-hitter and helped himself at the plate
with a double and an RBI as the Cardinals beat the Kansas City
Royals 5-1 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep. Since coming to St. Louis last Aug. 2 from San Diego, Williams
is 11-3 with four complete games and a 2.25 ERA. That's a huge turnaround for a pitcher who had been 58-62 with
six complete games for his career before the deal that sent
outfielder Ray Lankford to the Padres -- a lopsided deal in favor of
the Cardinals. "It's consistent mechanics,'' Williams said. "You've got to
trust the defense, and here it's not hard to do. It seems like when
I pitch, they're on the tips of their toes.'' The Cardinals took five of six over the last 10 days against
their I-70 rivals, outscoring the Royals 38-16. St. Louis has won
four of five overall, pulling into a first-place tie with the Reds
in the NL Central. "It's been a long time coming,'' manager Tony La Russa said.
"I wish this was September and we'd be celebrating, but there's a
lot of games to go.'' The Royals (25-41) have lost four in a row and 12 of 17 and are
a season-worst 16 games below .500. "I'm glad we don't have to play them anymore,'' Royals manager
Tony Pena said. J.D. Drew hit a two-run homer and Eli Marrero, Fernando Vina and
Williams each drove in a run apiece for the Cardinals (38-29), who
are a season best nine games above .500. Williams (4-2) struck out six and walked one in his 10th career
complete game and first of the season. Williams was helped by three
double plays and his own hitting. He doubled off Darrell May (2-4) and scored on Drew's 10th homer
on an eye-level hanging curve to put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 in the
third, sacrificed in the fifth to put Mike Matheny in scoring
position for Vina's RBI double, and hit a sacrifice fly in the
sixth to make it 5-1. Williams also helped himself with his glove, snaring a liner
right at him by pinch-hitter Michael Tucker in the eighth. "What more do you want a pitcher to do?'' La Russa said. "He
swings the bat, makes fielding plays. The only thing left for him
to do was maybe hit a grand slam there at the end.'' A sellout crowd of 47,522 on Albert Pujols bobblehead day
chanted "Woody! Woody!'' several times the last few innings. "Oh man, that's incredible,'' Williams said. "It's the reason
you play, no doubt about it. The louder they get, the better I
get.'' Jim Edmonds returned from the disabled list from a wrist injury
and was 1-for-3 with a double and two strikeouts for St. Louis.
Edmonds lost control of his bat on his strikeout in the sixth,
flinging it near the Cardinals' dugout, and Eduardo Perez pinch hit
for him in the seventh. May, who had picked up his first two victories since 1997 in his
previous two starts, gave up five runs and seven hits in 5 1-3
innings. He said he hadn't worried about the team's recent woes
before the start. "I don't try to go out there with that pressure,'' May said.
"I go out every five days to keep the game close and keep us in
the game and give us a chance to win. Unfortunately it didn't
happen.'' The Royals scored in the third on a leadoff double by Carlos
Febles and a two-out RBI single by Neifi Perez. The Cardinals were in second place behind the Reds for 32
straight days since May 14 before finally catching up. Cincinnati
lost 5-1 to the Pirates.
Royals CF Carlos Beltran was ejected in the ninth inning by
home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi for arguing balls and strikes. ...
Cardinals 1B Tino Martinez, who has soreness in his shoulder,
didn't start but entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth.
La Russa said he'd start Tuesday when the Cardinals begin a
three-game series against the Angels. ... Cardinals SS Edgar
Renteria booted two grounders, giving him six errors on the year.
He had 24 errors last year. ... St. Louis' Placido Polanco singled
in the first to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. ... The
Cardinals are 11-10 against the Royals in interleague play since
1997. ... The Royals are 11-23 on the road. ... The Cardinals have
swept four series this season.