"It wasn't out of the realm of possibility we could have ended up being a losing team, and that's not anywhere near where we've been all year. Now I don't have to walk to California (which he had promised before the game he would do if his team lost all the rest of its games)."
Even in victory, the Cardinals were eliminated from the wild-card race with a New York Mets triumph, but La Russa said, "If you had (said) this club would go into the last week of the season in contention for an October spot, I think a lot of people wouldn't have believed it.
"I like this club a lot, and I wanted it to have some results at the end. We're not enough over .500 where we're celebrating, but we've competed."
Right-hander Kyle Lohse, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, helped his stock by scoring his 15th win in 21 decisions. And Ryan Ludwick took over the team's extra-base hit lead with his 35th homer, a three-run drive in the first inning off Randy Johnson.
Ludwick has 77 extra-base hits to 76 for Albert Pujols.
CARDINALS 7, DIAMONDBACKS 4: Kyle Lohse achieved his career high in wins at 15 by holding Arizona to three runs over six innings. Lohse improved his Busch Stadium record this season to 8-2 with one start remaining Sunday against Cincinnati.
NOTES AND QUOTES:
--RHP Chris Carpenter, who has had a nerve problem in his right shoulder, saw one neurologist and plans to see another Wednesday, but the news so far isn't good. Carpenter, who first experienced a nerve problem in the biceps area in 2004, causing him to miss the postseason, has experienced some shoulder discomfort and later some tingling in a couple of fingers on his right hand. Surgery is a possibility.
"It's not something you 'ha-ha' away," manager Tony La Russa said. "But I don't think you can have an opinion yet. We're hearing a lot of things and I'm sure we're being optimistic. But you're talking about a guy whose throwing arm is his life, and he's critical to our chances next year, so there's nothing we're taking for granted here."
--1B Albert Pujols drew his 100th walk, an intentional pass from LHP Randy Johnson, giving him 100 walks for the first time in his eight-season career.
--RHP Jason Motte allowed his first earned run in his ninth appearance, although the run scored after he had been removed from the game in the eighth inning.
--The Cardinals scored four runs in the first inning and have outscored their opponents by 40 runs for the season in that inning at 111-71.
--Since CF Rick Ankiel suffered a lower abdominal injury July 26, manager Tony La Russa has employed 19 different outfields. The latest combination against LHP Randy Johnson had right-handed-hitting Brian Barton, Ryan Ludwick and Nick Stavinoha from left to right.