<
>

Edmonds, Martinez, Perez lead power surge

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A routine eye exam has made all the difference
for Eduardo Perez.

Perez, Jim Edmonds and Tino Martinez all homered, powering the
St. Louis Cardinals to an 8-4 victory Friday night over the Chicago
Cubs.

Chuck Finley, acquired last Friday in a trade with Cleveland,
won in his Busch Stadium debut before the largest crowd of the
season at 48,730. Edgar Renteria got two hits to reach 1,000 in his
career.

Perez delivered the night's biggest blow, a three-run, pinch-hit
homer in the sixth inning to give St. Louis an 8-3 lead.

Tired of wearing hard contacts, Perez had lasik surgery in
Puerto Rico last winter and hit well in spring training. But he
began to fade once the season started.

Finally, he went to his eye doctor in St. Louis.

"I found out my vision had went to 20-35 and 20-30, and while
that's fine for people, it's not so good for a ballplayer,'' Perez
said. "I found you can have setbacks with the surgery. It's not
like hearing. It was the best I could see.

"So, I went in for an exam and I was embarrassed to tell him I
was hitting .130. I got some soft contacts and now I can see the
rotation of the ball. I'm so glad I got that exam.''

Perez was one of many heroes for the Cardinals, who had 13 hits.

"We were a good looking baseball team today, the way we
played,'' St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.

Finley (2-0) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings,
striking out seven and walking none.

After allowing a leadoff home run to Mark Bellhorn, Finley
blanked the Cubs until Chris Stynes hit a two-run homer with two
outs in the sixth that cut the St. Louis lead to 5-3. At one point,
Finley retired 11 consecutive hitters in his 195th career win.

"He was outstanding,'' La Russa said. "He gave up a 3-2
fastball to the leadoff hitter and gives up a home run. Then he got
a fastball up to Stynes and he hit it out. Between that, he was
outstanding.''

The Cardinals have dominated the Cubs at home, winning 17 of the
past 19 games between the teams at Busch Stadium. St. Louis has
beaten Chicago in five straight games overall.

"The best way to describe this team is I got outmanaged, we got
outcoached and the players got outplayed,'' Chicago manager Bruce
Kimm said. "We got beat in all phases.''

Jon Lieber (6-8) gave up eight runs and 11 hits in six innings
to lose his fourth straight decision. Chicago has scored just five
runs in his last four starts.

"I was terrible,'' Lieber said. "I had bad location on a lot
of pitches and I did a terrible job out there tonight. Bottom line,
I just stunk.''

Edmonds hit a two-run homer in the first inning to give St.
Louis the lead.

The Cardinals added a run in the third when Finley reached on an
infield hit when first baseman Fred McGriff and Lieber both went
for the slow roller and Finley beat Lieber to first. Finley slipped
on the base and landed hard but he was OK.

"First think I did was check to see if there were any bones
sticking out,'' Finley said. "I lost some skin out there.''

A single by Kerry Robinson, who had a season-high three hits,
and an intentional walk to Edmonds loaded the bases for Albert
Pujols, who hit a sacrifice fly.

Martinez, returning to action since leaving Tuesday's game in
San Francisco with back spasms, homered to lead off the fourth
inning.

"Cream rises to the top,'' La Russa said. "There's nobody
better at the professional side of it than Tino Martinez.''

Renteria and Mike Matheny each singled and advanced on Finley's
sacrifice before Renteria scored on Robinson's groundout for a 5-1
St. Louis lead.

The Cardinals answered Stynes' homer in the sixth when Perez
pinch hit for Finley and hit a pitch from Lieber for a three-run
homer. Finley had thrown just 69 pitches.

"We had a chance to blow the game open,'' La Russa said about
his decision to lift Finley. "If this was the American League,
he'd still be pitching.''

It was the second pinch-hit homer this season for Perez and the
fifth of his career.

Game notes
St. Louis has outscored Chicago 123-56 in the past 19 games
at Busch Stadium. ... 2B Fernando Vina, who leads the Cardinals
with 111 hits, sat out Friday with a sore right wrist. Placido
Polanco made his fourth start at 2B. ... McGriff remained three RBI
shy of Hall of Famer Billy Williams' career total of 1,475. McGriff
has 72 RBI this season, including 21 in his last 19 games ...
Cardinals P Garrett Stephenson will pitch a simulated game Sunday
before beginning a minor-league rehab assignment next week ... Tom
Gordon made his 500th career appearance in the seventh inning for
the Cubs.