Series: Game 1 of 3

St. Louis leads 1-0 (as of 5/2)

Game 1: Friday, May 2
St. Louis8
Game 2: Saturday, May 3
St. Louis3
Game 3: Sunday, May 4
St. Louis6

Expos 1

(18-11, 8-5 away)

Cardinals 8

(15-12, 8-4 home)

    8:10 PM ET, May 2, 2003

    Busch Stadium I, St. Louis, Missouri 

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    MON 000010000 1 6 1
    STL 51001001 - 8 13 0

    W: J. Simontacchi (1-1)

    L: T. Ohka (2-4)

    Cardinals' latest fast start keeps them rolling

    ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Another fast start kept the St. Louis Cardinals rolling.

    Jim Edmonds' homer highlighted a five-run first, and Jason Simontacchi threw eight sharp innings in an 8-1 victory over the Montreal Expos on Friday night.

    Fernando Vina homered and went 3-for-3 for the Cardinals, who extended their winning streak to a season-best five games. Mike Matheny also homered and drove in three runs, and Edmonds had three hits.

    The Cardinals have outscored the opposition 14-1 in the first inning during the first four games of a six-game homestand.

    "Anytime you get big hits, and we got four with two outs, that's a big momentum lifter,'' manager Tony La Russa said. "They're an out away from going to the dugout with a run and all of a sudden there's five on the board.''

    Despite going down in order Thursday, the Cardinals are 15-for-27 with three homers and seven doubles in the first inning of their last four games.

    Edmonds, who hit the game-winning homer in the 10th inning against the New York Mets on Thursday, connected on the first pitch he saw from Tomo Ohka in the first.

    During the winning streak, the NL's top hitting team has piled up 40 runs on 58 hits, nine by Edgar Renteria.

    He had hits in six consecutive plate appearances, dating to Wednesday, before grounding out in the third.

    The Cardinals had 13 hits, their 17th time in double figures in 27 games.

    "You have to mix up your pitches and hit your spots against them,'' Expos manager Frank Robinson said. "If you don't, you have a chance to get buried.''

    St. Louis roughed up Ohka (2-4) for five runs on six hits in the first, chasing him after only two-thirds of an inning. It was the second-shortest outing of Ohka's career. He got nobody out April 17, 2002, against the Cubs, giving up five runs on six hits.

    Ohka also struggled in his last start, allowing five runs in three innings in a loss to the Astros on April 27. His ERA has risen from 1.78 to 4.66 in his last two starts.

    "You saw it,'' Robinson said. "He had bad location on his pitches. He kept putting the ball in good (hitting) locations.''

    The Expos, who had won six of seven, missed a chance to match the best 29-game start in franchise history. Montreal (18-11) began the year 19-10 in 1979 and 1985.

    "We talked before the game that this is a good team and we had to play well to beat them,'' reliever Dan Smith said. "I'll bet they're saying the same thing in the other locker room.''

    An 11-game winner as a 28-year-old rookie last season, Simontacchi (1-1) won for the first time in five starts this season and lowered his ERA from 8.35 to 6.15. He allowed one run on six hits with three walks and one strikeout and benefited from three double plays.

    "Our defense was outstanding, and obviously our offense came through,'' Simontacchi said. "It was a beautiful thing.''

    Simontacchi was the last member of the rotation to get a victory.

    "I was the last one to put a tally in the win section,'' Simontacchi said. "They've been ragging at me for a while.''

    The Expos got their lone run on a double-play grounder by pinch-hitter Ron Calloway in the fifth.

    Vina led off the first with a single and scored on Albert Pujols' double. Pujols advanced when the Expos tried for a play at the plate and also scored when shortstop Orlando Cabrera's throw got away from catcher Brian Schneider for an error.

    Edmonds followed with his seventh homer, and Matheny added a two-run double to chase Ohka after he faced only eight batters.

    Vina led off the second with his second homer in three games, topping last year's total of one, for a 6-0 lead. St. Louis opened the fifth with singles by Pujols, Edmonds and Scott Rolen, and Pujols scored on Renteria's groundout for a 7-1 lead.

    Matheny hit a home run leading off the eighth.

    Game notes
    Right-handed hitters are batting .426 (23-for-54) against Ohka, whose best pitch is a forkball that's tough on lefties. ... Before Friday, the Expos had outscored their opponents 24-9 in the first inning. ... The Cardinals lead the all-time series 260-258. ... St. Louis has made two errors in the last 11 games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press