MLB Insiders - Cards Reach Short Term Goal

The Cardinals made it back to one of manager Tony La Russa's short-term goals, 10 games over .500, when they rallied for a 5-2 win over Florida on Thursday night.

After dipping to six over, they have won five of the first six games on this homestand.

Once Florida manager Joe Girardi decided to pinch hit for left-hander Dontrelle Willis with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth -- Florida had just pushed across the go-ahead run --the Cardinals took advantage.

The Cardinals had been 19-30 in games started by opposing left-handers, and they might have been headed for 19-31 in this one until Willis was pulled at 108 pitches. The 109th pitch by Florida was thrown by right-hander Sergio Mitre to pinch hitter Chris Duncan, who walloped it 428 feet into the right-center-field seats to tie the game.

The eighth inning became a four-run frame off Mitre, who contributed a wild pickoff throw when he had Albert Pujols nailed at first base. Scott Rolen knocked in the lead run with a single to right, and Ronnie Belliard and Scott Spiezio had the other RBIs in the inning.

Though he didn't get the win, Jeff Suppan had another strong start, holding Florida to one run in seven innings. Suppan lowered his ERA at home to 2.90.

"The key to the game was Jeff Suppan," La Russa said. "He was the No. 1 thing about tonight."

REPLAY: Chris Duncan had tapered off a bit lately, but asked to pinch-hit in the eighth inning Thursday with the Cardinals down 2-1 to Florida, Duncan delivered. He cracked the first pitch he saw for a game-tying home run, his 15th homer of the season. The Cardinals put together three more hits, two walks and a sacrifice fly and wound up scoring four runs in the eighth to overcome the Marlins 5-2.

Jeff Suppan battled Florida's Dontrelle Willis even for seven innings before the Marlins scratched out a run in the eighth off Braden Looper, who ended up gaining his eighth win in nine decisions.


--LHP Mark Mulder, who struggled in two starts since he returned from the disabled list, went back on the 15-day DL with a recurrence of shoulder problems. Mulder allowed 14 runs in 4 2/3 innings in his two late-August starts. For the season, he is 6-7 with a 7.14 ERA. Mulder is unlikely to pitch again this season.

--With C Gary Bennett still incapacitated by a sore lower back, the Cardinals purchased the contract of C Mike Rose from Triple-A Memphis. Rose, who was with the Dodgers last season, hit 15 homers in 82 games for Memphis.

--RF Preston Wilson had two singles off Florida LHP Dontrelle Willis, improving his career mark against Willis to 7-for-18 (.389). Wilson has a five-game hitting streak (7-for-22, .318).

--OF Chris Duncan's pinch homer Thursday was his second of the season and the Cardinals' sixth.

--3B Scott Rolen's game-winning hit in the eighth inning Thursday was his second game-winning RBI on the six-game homestand.

--RHP Braden Looper's eight wins are the most by a Cardinals reliever since RHP Mark Petkovsek had eight in 1996.


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