Pujols ends Beckett's no-hit bid; Edmonds gets winner

MIAMI (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals had just two hits, lost
their starting pitcher to a stiff back and won anyway.

Albert Pujols ended Josh Beckett's no-hit bid with a home run in
the sixth inning Tuesday night, and Jim Edmonds homered on the
first pitch in the 10th inning to help St. Louis beat the Florida
Marlins, 2-1.

"We've won some unusual games this year, and I'd put this one
right up there with them," manager Tony La Russa said. "Truth is
stranger than fiction. You couldn't write that. They wouldn't
believe it."

With their sixth win in a row, the NL Central leaders improved
to 19-5 since the All-Star break. They're 37-17 on the road, best
in the major leagues.

The Marlins had seven hits but were shut out after Alex Gonzalez
doubled home a run in the second. The defending World Series
champions have struggled offensively much of the season, and
they've scored two runs in the past 24 innings.

"It's the same old thing," manager Jack McKeon said. "I don't
have the answer. It's been that way all year. We've got good
hitters. We're just not connecting at the right time."

Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter pitched just 2 1-3
innings -- his shortest outing this season -- before departing
because of tightness in his lower back. Four relievers allowed just
two hits, and the bullpen retired the last 13 Florida batters.

"Everybody talks about our offense, but our pitching staff has
been carrying us all year," Edmonds said.

Guillermo Mota (8-5) gave up Edmonds' 31st home run, which
traveled an estimated 421 feet and cleared the center-field wall.

Julian Tavarez (5-3) pitched 2 2-3 hitless innings, and Jason
Isringhausen followed with a perfect 10th for his 30th save in 35

"This game got our blood pumping a little bit," Isringhausen

It left the struggling Marlins stewing. They fell one game below
.500 and remained 5½ games behind in the NL wild-card race.

"We can't keep marching along through the season thinking what
happened last year is going to happen," Beckett said. "We
definitely have to have some urgency around here if we want to make
it back to the postseason."

Beckett allowed no hits through 5 2/3 innings before Pujols hit
his 32nd home run to make the score 1-all. The hit came on the 92nd
pitch from Beckett, who left for a pinch hitter in the bottom of
the sixth.

It was the longest outing since May 25 for Beckett, who has
battled finger blisters and spent three stints on the disabled list
this year. He walked three and struck out five.

"I didn't pitch good enough for us to win," he said.

But Beckett outlasted the often-injured Carpenter, who said he
began battling back spasms in the second inning.

"It just got worse in the third," he said. "I was trying to
work it out, but enough was enough."

Carpenter threw just 55 pitches and left trailing 1-0. He said
he expects to make his next start as scheduled Sunday.

The only run off Carpenter scored in the second when Gonzalez
pulled the 10th pitch to him for a two-out RBI double.

Florida loaded the bases in the sixth against Ray King, but Juan
Pierre tapped out to end the threat.

Game notes
Isringhausen said he pulled a muscle in his left hip in the
10th but expects to be fine. ... Edmonds, the Cardinals' Gold Glove
center fielder, casually fielded a two-out hit in the first by
hustling Paul Lo Duca, who took advantage and kept running for a
double. Lo Duca was ejected in the 10th by plate umpire Chris
Guccione for arguing a called third strike. ... St. Louis' Scott
Rolen fielded a grounder barehanded behind third base and threw out
Miguel Cabrera. ... How muggy was it? On an 86-degree evening, a
pitch by the Cardinals' Cal Eldred in the fifth inning slipped from
his hand and rolled toward third base. Guccione ruled the pitch
didn't count.