Series: Game 1 of 3

Arizona leads 1-0 (as of 9/26)

Game 1: Friday, September 26
St. Louis6Final
Game 2: Saturday, September 27
St. Louis3Final
Game 3: Sunday, September 28
St. Louis9Final

Cardinals 6

(83-77, 35-44 away)

Diamondbacks 7

(84-76, 45-34 home)

    10:05 PM ET, September 26, 2003

    Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona 

    123456789 R H E
    STL 000021021 6 9 1
    ARI 00110320 - 7 13 0

    W: S. Randolph (8-1)

    L: B. Tomko (13-9)

    S: M. Mantei (29)

    Cards fail to make playoffs for first time since '99

    PHOENIX (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999, and manager Tony La Russa could only watch from a booth in the press box.

    Shea Hillenbrand's leadoff home run ignited a three-run sixth inning and the Arizona Diamondbacks eliminated the Cardinals from the NL Central race with a 7-6 win Friday night.

    La Russa was serving the first of a two-game suspension for remarks about umpire Jerry Crawford last Saturday in Houston. After Friday's game, he was asked how tough it was to not be able to be with his team in the dugout as the team's last fleeting chance slipped away.

    "That's a very good question, and the answer to that question would get me not just in trouble again but in more trouble than I am right now," La Russa said. "But it's one of the most maddening and upsetting experiences I've had, and I've been around awhile, to sit there and watch your club get eliminated."

    Hillenbrand's 414-foot shot to straightaway center off Brett Tomko tied it at 3.

    Carlos Baerga drove in the go-ahead run with a pinch-hit single, then Steve Finley doubled in pinch-runner Quinton McCracken from first to put Arizona up 5-3.

    Baerga's 18th pinch-hit of the season tied the club record set by David Dellucci in 2001. Hillenbrand also had an RBI bloop single in the Diamondbacks' two-run seventh.

    "When you don't have anything left to play for, the best you can hope to do is ruin their party," Arizona manager Bob Brenly said. "Since they knocked us out of the playoffs last year, that didn't hurt my feelings at all to do that to them tonight."

    Tino Martinez was 3-for-3, including a two-run homer off Jose Valverde that cut the lead to 7-5 in the eighth.

    Matt Mantei pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 32 opportunities. Jim Edmonds hit his 38th homer with two outs to cut the lead to one.

    Albert Pujols was 0-for-5, including a strikeout to end the game. His lead in the NL batting race has dwindled to three percentage points at .360 to Todd Helton's .357.

    "We had a lot of chances this year. We just didn't play up to our potential," Edmonds said. "We still have a great team. It would be a shame to break this team down. My old saying is not everybody can win, not all the time. That's just the way it goes. We just have to move on and try to improve."

    Tomko (13-9), 4-0 in his previous six starts and 7-1 in his last nine, lost for the first time since Aug. 17. The right-hander, whose 13 wins tied a career best, allowed five runs on 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings.

    Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny also was unavailable. He was suspended for two games for coming into contact with Crawford in that game last Saturday. Chris Widger, starting at catcher in Matheny's absence, doubled in a pair of runs.

    With the game tied at 2, Diamondbacks reliever Stephen Randolph retired the first two batters in the sixth, but walked Edgar Renteria.

    Martinez followed with a single, then Widger bounced one over the wall in right-center for a ground-rule double to bring home Renteria and put St. Louis up 3-2.

    Randolph (8-1) still got the victory thanks to Arizona's three-run sixth.

    After Hillenbrand's homer, Craig Counsell beat out a bunt single with a headfirst slide.

    Counsell took second on a wild pitch and scored on Baerga's single. Finley's double off the center-field wall brought McCracken home.

    Arizona and St. Louis, teams that expected to be back in the postseason, find themselves just playing out the final two games.

    "I think when the schedules first came out, both of us were looking at this series as being a crucial series and thinking this would be the matchup going into the playoffs," Arizona's Luis Gonzalez said. "I think both sides are disappointed the way things ended up."

    Game notes

    Curt Schilling had been the Diamondbacks' scheduled starter, but was scratched because of ailments in his neck, shoulder, groin and knee. ... St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan will serve a one-game suspension on Sunday, imposed after last Saturday's game. Cardinals 2B Fernando Vina will serve a one-game suspension Saturday for his run-in with Matt Hollowell on Wednesday in Milwaukee. ... Arizona 1B Mark Grace, who announced his retirement before the game, will make his final start on Saturday. He is expected to make a pinch-hit appearance in Sunday's season finale. ... Hillenbrand has 21 homers this season, 17 since he was traded to Arizona.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press