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Penny keeps Cardinals in check

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Armando Benitez shut down the St. Louis
Cardinals, just as he's done against almost every team this season.

Florida's closer earned the ninth two-inning save of his career
in a 3-2 victory Sunday, helping the Marlins avoid a three-game
sweep.

Benitez has a 0.39 ERA and is 15-for-16 on save chances. He's
gone 22 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.

"Everybody was talking about how bad he is, but he's one of the
best closers in the league," starter Brad Penny said. "Nobody
wanted him last year and I'm glad. That way we were fortunate to
get a guy like that."

Penny worked six solid innings, and the Marlins, who scored only
six runs in the series, got a pair of big two-out hits.

Juan Pierre's two-run double in the fourth gave the team its
only multirun inning, and Mike Mordecai got his first RBI of the
year for Florida, which completed a 3-3 road trip against the
Astros and Cardinals.

"It's always nice to go on the road and play .500 and that's
basically what we did in two very tough cities, Houston and St.
Louis," manager Jack McKeon said. "We're very fortunate to be
where we were when we left off."

Jim Edmonds hit his ninth homer leading off the fourth for the
Cardinals, who wrapped up a 4-2 homestand -- their first winning
homestand of the season. Edmonds, who also made an outstanding,
over-the-shoulder catch of Mordecai's drive in the fourth, was
disappointed only with the final score.

"Actually, I don't know if you can say it stings," Edmonds
said. "We just came up short and that's just baseball. It's not
like it was an ugly game or anything, it was just one of those
things."

Penny (4-2) allowed one run and five hits, winning for the
fourth time in five decisions. He struck out six and walked two.

Benitez is 9-for-9 in save situations against the Cardinals,
allowing one run in 20 2-3 innings against them. Pitching for the
first time in three games, he got his first two-inning save of the
season.

The Cardinals had a runner on second with none out in the eighth
before Benitez retired the 3-4-5 batters, Albert Pujols, Scott
Rolen and Edmonds, without a ball leaving the infield. The
right-hander struck out two and walked one in the ninth.

"My job is not supposed to be easy," Benitez said. "If they
need me, hey, give me the ball."

Woody Williams (1-4) worked out of bases-loaded situations in
the third and fifth. He allowed three runs, one earned, and nine
hits in seven innings, but failed in his attempt to open and close
the homestand with a win.

The Marlins scored only two runs in 17 innings before taking the
lead in the second. Luis Castillo, batting sixth for the first time
all season, singled with two outs and scored on Mordecai's double
on an 0-2 count.

"When you get in a situation like that you've got to make a
better pitch," Williams said. "When you're up there hitting 0-2
and a guy throws one that makes your eyes light up, that's not what
you're supposed to do."

Mordecai made his first start at shortstop after Damion Easley,
the backup to Alex Gonzalez, bruised his leg breaking up a double
play on Saturday.

Pierre also hit an 0-2 pitch for his two-run double that made it
3-0 in the fourth. Both runs were unearned after Rolen, perhaps
hurrying to try for a double play, booted Ramon Castro's one-out
grounder to third.

Castillo was 2-for-3 and scored twice.

The Cardinals cut the gap to a run in the eighth when Tony
Womack drew a leadoff walk from Matt Perisho, stole second and
scored on pinch-hitter Reggie Sanders' single.

Game notes
Pujols hit his 150th career double in the third. He's in
his fourth season. ... Womack is 0-for-12 against Penny. ...
Mordecai was 4-for-27 in his previous 17 road games. ... Bat day
drew a sellout crowd of 46,889. ... The Cardinals haven't swept the
Marlins since May 2000. ... Marlins LHP Dontrelle Willis, who
entered batting .412, grounded out to second in his first pinch-hit
appearance of the season to end the eighth.