KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- At the age of 38, Larry Walker prefers jogging leisurely around the bases rather than making a mad dash.
While leading the St. Louis Cardinals past the reeling Kansas City Royals 6-5
on Saturday night he did both, hitting a three-run home run after scoring standing up on an RBI double and two-base error some thought should have been an inside-the-parker."That really made me realize I'm approaching 40," Walker said."I don't know what happened on the play, but it's a lot easier hitting the ball out of the park," he said.Jaime Cerda (1-4) struck out four of his first five batters while trying to protect the 5-3 lead, but then Yadier Molina and David Eckstein singled with one out in the seventh.Walker then hit a 2-2 pitch for his fifth home run, driving the ball over the fence in right and over the head of right fielder Emil Brown, whom he'd embarrassed in his previous at-bat.With one on and two outs in the fifth, Walker hit a hard liner down the right field line, and first base umpire Chris Guccione barely had time to jump out of the way as the ball bounded into the corner and got away from Brown.Brown gave chase as the ball rolled along the wall back toward center field, but when he finally caught up with it, his feet went out from under him and he went sliding onto his backside.Walker, not exactly fleet of foot even in his younger days, had plenty of time to score standing up with what was ruled an RBI double and two-base error. He finished the night 2-for-3 with four RBI after getting plunked by Jose Lima in the first.Walker had come almost to a complete stop at second when Brown took a tumble and the third base coach began frantically waving him in."I had no idea what happened and still don't. Everybody is telling me it should be a home run. That's all I've been told," he said.It was no home run, said a rueful Brown."I played it the way we think we should play it -- let it kick around and wait for it to come out," he said. "I got to the spot but I just missed it when it came out. I was thinking way too fast. Instead of catching the ball and getting it in, I'm thinking, 'Hurry
up and get it in, hurry up and throw it, maybe you'll get him at third.'"Overcoming leads of 3-1 and 5-3, the defending National League champs beat their cross-state rivals for the seventh straight time and won their 15th interleague game in 16 tries.Matt Morris (4-0), who lost 4-0 when Lima threw a shutout in last year's Dodgers-Cardinals NL Division Series, went seven innings to best Lima in the rematch. He gave up nine hits and five runs, struck out four and did not give up a walk. Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his 11th save in 11 chances.The game got off to an ugly start when Lima -- looking for his first win in 12 starts since the playoff victory -- hit Walker in the first inning and Reggie Sanders in the second.Cardinals manager Tony La Russa came out and talked calmly with the umpires in the first inning and then again in the second. But there was no retaliation."That's typical Jose Lima baseball," Walker said. "He tries to get under the skin of the other team. I think for a minute there, he did. That's what he does. We just have to try to keep our composure. It's just part of his strategy."The Royals went ahead 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth with four straight singles off Morris.Alberto Castillo, Ruben Gotay and Angel Berroa loaded the bases and then David DeJesus singled home two runs. But after a visit from pitching coach Dave Duncan, Morris struck out Mike Sweeney, whose hitting streak ended at 14 games, and got Matt Stairs to take a called third strike."[Duncan] came out and slapped me around a little bit and said, 'You'd better start making pitches here and forget about what happened.' I was able to make some decent pitches," Morris said.Lima left after five innings, charged with three runs -- two earned -- on just three hits."I thought he competed real well," said Royals interim manager Bob Schaefer.Albert Pujols knocked in the Cardinals' first run with an opposite-field single in the third but then was picked off by Lima's quick move to first.Berroa singled in the first, went to second on Morris' balk and eventually scored on Sweeney's infield out. Mark Teahen hit his first major-league homer for a 2-0 lead in the second. DeJesus' sacrifice fly gave the Royals a 3-1 lead in the third.The Royals dropped to 12-31, worst in the majors and their worst record ever after 44 games.
Ryan Jensen, called up from Triple-A Omaha this week, will face the Cardinals on Sunday in his first major-league start in more than two years. ... Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo
was back after leaving Friday night's game with an illness. A team spokesman said Oquendo experienced "lightheadedness." ... Brown's error was Kansas City's first in nine games.