ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Ignoring a sore knee and ailing back, J.D. Drew
hit one of the longest home runs ever at Busch Stadium.
Drew's mammoth two-run shot off the top of the right-field video
board helped the St. Louis Cardinals end the Chicago Cubs'
five-game winning streak with a 7-4 victory Friday night. "It feels good to hit them like that,'' Drew said. "You never
know where they're going to end up and it doesn't really matter
once they go over, but it makes it interesting for everybody else,
I guess.'' Woody Williams (5-0) went eight innings for the Cardinals, who
won for only the third time in 10 games. But they're 9-1 the last
two seasons at home against the Cubs. Chicago manager Dusty Baker let starter Matt Clement (2-5) bat
in the sixth with runners at the corners even though he'd thrown 96
pitches and was trailing 5-4 -- Cubs relievers threw 10 innings in a
17-inning victory over the Brewers on Thursday. Clement gave up a two-run single to Fernando Vina in the bottom
of the sixth, and the Cardinals held on in the opener of a
four-game series. Vina was 3-for-3 with three RBI and two runs
scored. "I needed some innings or else I'm doomed for tomorrow and the
next day and the next day,'' Baker said. "Really, I had only two
semi-fresh guys out there in (Mike) Remlinger and the kid, (Matt)
Wellemeyer.'' Drew missed the previous two games with a sore back. His third
homer off a belt-high fastball from Clement in the fifth was
estimated at 514 feet, the fourth-longest at Busch Stadium since
the team began estimating homers in 1988. It's the longest homer
hit to right field in that time, and it put the Cardinals ahead
5-3. "I could give a care less where it hit,'' Clement said. "No, I
didn't watch it. It's still a home run if he hits it out of the
stadium. "You know, good for him if that's the longest home run he's
hit.'' Drew, who missed the first three weeks of the season recovering
from patella tendon surgery, has eight RBI in limited action and
hasn't been able to play on consecutive days. "I'm a ways away, I think,'' Drew said. "It's just a matter of
continuing to push and hopefully the knee reacts well and
everything goes good.'' Williams overcame a shaky start to become the NL's sixth
five-game winner, allowing four runs on nine hits with six
strikeouts. He walked three and hit a batter in the first two
innings, leading to two runs. "Early on I didn't even know where it was going,'' Williams
said. "It wasn't good pretty much all the time and I'm fortunate
to get through this.'' Williams is 8-0 in his last 12 starts since losing Aug. 29 last
season against Cincinnati. Cal Eldred worked a perfect ninth for
his second career save in two days. "That's outstanding pitching,'' Cardinals manager Tony La Russa
said. "It's whole new territory for him.'' Moises Alou hit an RBI single in the first, Mark Grudzielanek
had a run-scoring groundout in the second, Troy O'Leary hit an RBI
double in the fifth and Corey Patterson added a run-scoring single
in the sixth for Chicago. Clement escaped what would have been a career-worst outing
against the Cardinals last Sunday at a rainy and extremely windy
Wrigley Field, giving up 11 runs in 3 2/3 innings in a game that
was postponed in the fifth inning. This time around he lasted six
innings and gave up seven runs, six earned, on eight hits, and hit
three batters. Clement has lost his last four starts, allowing 18 earned runs
in 25 innings.
The longest homer at Busch was a 545-foot shot to
straightaway center by Mark McGwire on May 16, 1998, against Livan
Hernandez. ... The Cardinals have been hit by a pitch an NL-high 25
times, including eight times for Vina and five for Tino Martinez.
... Cardinals 3B Scott Rolen doubled in the fifth and is 14-for-33
with three homers during a 10-game hitting streak. ... Williams
entered with a major league-best 0.87 ERA at home. He's one of
three unbeaten pitchers in the majors with at least four victories.
... Drew homered off his likeness on the video board April 12,
2002, against Houston's Wade Miller, a drive estimated at 496 feet.
... The Cubs' five-game winning streak tied their season best. ...
The Cardinals have converted their last three save opportunities,
although they're 8-for-18 on the year. ... St. Louis LF Albert
Pujols, who has a tight left hamstring, was removed as a precaution
after eight innings.