<
>

Suppan's on as Cardinals cook slumping Dodgers

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- If Jeff Suppan pitched like this the entire
first half, maybe he would have started the All-Star game instead
of Brad Penny.

Suppan scattered five hits over seven innings, Chris Duncan
homered and the St. Louis Cardinals beat Penny for the second time
in six days with a 3-0 victory over the stumbling Los Angeles
Dodgers on Friday night.

"For Supe to shut them out for seven innings is huge,"
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "When you know you're
matched up against Brad Penny -- who right now is as tough as any
starting pitcher in either league -- you go out there with a special
kind of pressure because you can't give up anything.

"This is a great win for us because we have great respect for
Brad and how well he's pitching."

Suppan (7-5) struck out two, walked three and hit a batter. The
right-hander, who won 16 games in each of the previous two seasons,
recorded his first victory since June 17 after going 2-3 with a
6.11 ERA in his previous 11 starts.

"My approach is the same, to keep us in the game as long as I
can," Suppan said. "There was some great defense behind me
tonight. I was able to capitalize on that and throw as many zeros
as I could."

Last Saturday, Suppan held the Dodgers to one run over seven
innings, but settled for a no-decision as the Cardinals won 2-1 in
10 innings.

"He's been so clutch for us," La Russa said. "Walt (g.m. Walt
Jocketty) was after him the year before we got him and tried to
trade for him, and he finally got him as a free agent. He's a
craftsman. He's a pitch-maker. He's got a lot of weapons, he moves
it around and gives hitters different looks. And when he's got
command like he did tonight, the hitters can't sit on anything."

Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth inning, retiring
pinch-hitter Sandy Alomar Jr. on a flyball for the final out after
Andre Ethier walked and pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz reached on a
fielding error by third baseman Scott Rolen. It was the
right-hander's NL-leading 27th save in 33 attempts.

"I lead the league in saves and lead the league in blown saves,"
Isringhausen said. "But that's what we do. That's the life of a
closer. You come to the park knowing that if you do good, we win
and if you do bad, we lose. It's just the nature of the beast. I
finally got to save one for Supe. I haven't been doing too well for
him."

The Cardinals, beginning a season-high 10-game road trip, are
6-2 overall since the All-Star break and have won nine of their
last 11 overall -- including a four-game sweep of the Dodgers last
week at St. Louis.

There is plenty of urgency in the other clubhouse, however. The
Dodgers are 1-8 since the break and have been outscored 45-15
during this stretch.

Penny (10-4) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings
against a Cardinals lineup that averaged 12 runs over their
previous four games.

"I threw the ball well and I felt better than I've felt in a
long time," Penny said. "Unfortunately, the way we're playing
right now, if you make a couple of mistakes you're going to pay for
them."

Dodgers right fielder J.D. Drew limped out of the game in the
first inning with a bruised right knee getting hit by a pitch. It
was shortly after reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols was brushed back by
a 2-0 delivery from Penny. It didn't end there, as Penny plunked
Suppan on the left arm with a 3-2 pitch in the fifth. There were no
warnings by the umpires and no further incidents.

"I was trying to go down and in with my cutter and I think it
cut late because I didn't really see him move," Suppan said. "I
was just hoping it didn't hit him in a bad spot. You never want to
hit a guy in a bad spot like that."

Duncan, who hit safely in all three at-bats against Penny in the
Cardinals' 11-3 victory last Sunday, struck out his first time up
in the rematch. But in the fourth, he led off with a towering drive
over the back wall of the right field bullpen on a 2-0 pitch.
Duncan's fifth homer of the season, second against Los Angeles,
traveled an estimated 431 feet.

Juan Encarnacion, part of the five-player trade that brought
Penny to the Dodgers from the Florida Marlins in July 2004, made it
2-0 in the sixth with a bases loaded RBI single. But Penny
minimized the damage by retiring Yadier Molina on a double play
grounder.

Game notes
Drew, who spent his first six big league seasons with the
Cardinals, played in 72 games last year with the Dodgers before a
pitch from Arizona's Brad Halsey broke his left wrist on July 3 and
put him out for the rest of the season. ... Suppan recorded his
1,000th career strikeout by fanning Ethier in the
first. ... Cardinals 2B Aaron Miles committed a throwing error
trying to complete a double play on Nomar Garciaparra in the
fourth, ending the Cardinals' 10-game errorless streak. Last
season, with Mark Grudzielanek at 2B, St. Louis led the majors with
a franchise-record 196 double plays. ... 3B Cesar Izturis was back
in the lineup after missing four games to be with his wife,
Liliana, for the birth of their daughter.