Both players sure came through Monday night for the NL Central
leaders. Williams and four relievers combined on a five-hitter, and
Pujols hit an RBI double as St. Louis beat the Milwaukee Brewers
3-0 for its sixth consecutive victory. Williams (8-4) pitched five innings, but did not feel
comfortable in his third start since coming off the disabled list.
He was removed after 68 pitches. Pujols played for the first time in three days but remained
bothered by muscle spasms in his left shoulder and side. He came
out in the eighth inning. "It's not as much fun being in first place as it should be,''
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "But it will be if we finish
in first.'' La Russa's outlook should improve Tuesday with the return of ace
Matt Morris, who's been on the disabled list with a hamstring
injury. Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen will also be available. He
hasn't pitched since Aug. 25 because of a sore shoulder and a stiff
neck. Williams has been on the disabled list twice this season with a
strained left oblique muscle, but he lowered his ERA to 2.55 Monday
night. "My mechanics weren't as smooth as they were the last time
out,'' Williams said. "I just wanted to make sure I didn't push
myself too far. It seemed like they (La Russa and pitching coach
Dave Duncan) were feeling the same way.'' Four Cardinals relievers went the final four innings, with Steve
Kline pitching the ninth for his fifth save. The St. Louis bullpen
has gone 34 consecutive innings without allowing a run. Milwaukee was shut out for the 14th time this season. The
Brewers have one hit in their last 23 at-bats with runners in
scoring position. "We haven't done what needs to be done to be competitive,''
manager Jerry Royster said. Ben Diggins provided the only bright spot for the Brewers. In
his second major league start, Diggins (0-2) gave up three runs on
six hits and two walks while striking out seven in seven innings. In his first start Sept. 2, he gave up eight runs, seven earned,
in 1 1-3 innings against the Chicago Cubs. "He was totally different than the first time I saw him,''
Royster said. "He was fearless out there. He trusted his stuff.
What he did tonight was something special for someone his age.'' The 24-year-old Diggins was Los Angeles' first-round draft
choice in 2000 and was traded to Milwaukee on July 23 in the deal
that sent Tyler Houston to the Dodgers. Eli Marrero led off the fourth with a single and moved to second
on Jim Edmonds' groundout. Pujols lined the ball down the
left-field line for a double, scoring Marrero for a 1-0 lead. Scott Rolen followed with a single to left, scoring Pujols. La Russa said Pujols will likely play Tuesday night and rest
Wednesday. Diggins walked six batters against Chicago, but didn't issue a
free pass to the Cardinals until Rolen walked to open the seventh
inning. Rolen then stole second, moved to third on a balk and scored on
a wild pitch to make it 3-0. The Brewers had four position players in the lineup with 130
at-bats or less this season, including Keith Ginter batting second
and Jim Rushford batting third. Milwaukee put runners at first and second with no outs in the
eighth, but Ginter struck out, Rushford flied out and Richie Sexson
walked to load the bases. Dave Veres got Matt Stairs to fly out to end the inning.
The Cardinals improved to 82-61 and guaranteed themselves a
winning record for the third consecutive season. ... It was the
10th anniversary of Brewers Hall of Famer Robin Yount getting his
3,000th hit, a single off Cleveland's Jose Mesa at County Stadium.
... Milwaukee's Eric Young stole his 30th base in the fourth
inning, giving him nine seasons -- and eight in a row, with at least
30 steals. ... Diggins' single in the fifth was his first major