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Walker bangs two homers as Cards near 100-win season

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

ST. LOUIS -- Tony La Russa is more concerned with getting ready for the playoffs than winning 100 games.

Larry Walker hit two homers Saturday and the St. Louis Cardinals moved within a game of becoming baseball's only 100-win team, beating the Cincinnati Reds 9-6.

A victory Sunday in the final regular-season game at Busch Stadium would give the Cardinals back-to-back 100-win seasons for the first time since 1942-44, the only time the franchise accomplished the feat.

"It's not the reason we come out," La Russa said. "We need to play one more really good game and get ready for next week."

Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer, his 41st, with one out in the first, and Walker followed with a drive off Cincinnati starter Ramon Ortiz. Walker connected off Ortiz again leading off the fourth.

Though limited to 99 games because of a herniated disc in his neck, Walker has 15 homers and 52 RBI. It was his 31st career multihomer game and his third this season. He also hit two homers off Ortiz here on June 29.

"I can't get this guy out," Ortiz said. "That's baseball and that's what happens sometimes. I'd like to figure this guy out."

Randy Flores (3-1) got the final out of the seventh for the win. Jason Isringhausen loaded the bases in the ninth before striking out Adam Dunn for his 38th save in 42 chances.

St. Louis has clinched baseball's best record and came into the final series needing a sweep of the Reds to reach 100 wins. The Cardinals move to a new ballpark next season.

"I think because of the history of this franchise, it would be a nice mark for the two-year run," La Russa said. "But any time you chase a number, you're making a big mistake."

Pujols noted that last season's 105 wins did the Cardinals no good in getting swept in the World Series.

"They don't talk about us winning 105 games last year, they talk about Boston, the world champion," he said.

Pujols had a 61 at-bat homerless streak before hitting a grand slam in the seventh inning Friday. He has seven RBI the past two games and scored three times Saturday. He leads the National League with 129 runs.

Cardinals starter Jason Marquis took a 4-0 lead into the fifth, but couldn't hold it.

Austin Kearns hit his 17th homer leading off the fifth, and Chris Denorfia and Felipe Lopez added run-scoring doubles.

Marquis walked Kearns with two outs in the sixth, and Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer, his ninth, to put the Reds ahead. If Encarnacion homers Sunday, he'll become the 10th Reds player in double digits.

The Cardinals reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the sixth, helped by Ortiz's wildness. With one out, he walked Pujols, Walker and Reggie Sanders. Mark Grudzielanek singled home a run, and Walker raced home on a short fly to right by So Taguchi.

After Lopez homered to tie it in the seventh, another bout of wildness put St. Louis back on top.

Reliever Allan Simpson (0-1) walked pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker and Abraham Nunez, then hit Pujols to load the bases. Pujols stepped toward the mound -- La Russa quickly rushed out to grab him -- but said he was only asking Simpson what he said. Simpson, according to Pujols, told Pujols he did not intend to hit him.

Brian Shackelford relieved and hit pinch-hitter Hector Luna, and Sanders followed with a two-run single off Todd Coffey.

Marquis allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings. Ortiz pitched six innings and allowed six runs.


  • With one game remaining, the Cardinals have drawn a record 3,488,554 fans.
  • Unless Brandon Claussen pitches a complete game Sunday, the Reds will tie the team record for fewest complete games with two. Cincinnati also had just two complete games in 2001 and 2002.
  • Longtime Cardinals second baseman and manager Red Schoendienst removed the number 2 in the countdown of games remaining at Busch Stadium. Ozzie Smith will remove the number 1 during Sunday's regular-season finale.
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Larry Walker slaps his second HR of the game in the fourth, his third multihomer outing of the year. (AP)
Larry Walker slaps his second HR of the game in the fourth, his third multihomer outing of the year. (AP)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

A. Pujols
AB 2
R 3
H 1
HR 1
St. Louis

L. Walker
AB 2
R 3
H 2
HR 2

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Cincinnati Reds
Ryan Freel, LF4010111 .274
Felipe Lopez, SS4122112 .292
Adam Dunn, 1B5000024 .247
Rich Aurilia, 2B4010000 .282
Javier Valentin, C4000011 .278
Austin Kearns, RF3211100 .238
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B3222100 .238
Chris Denorfia, CF4121011 .273
Ramon Ortiz, P2000022 .074
   a- Aaron Holbert, PH1000000 .208
    Allan Simpson, P0000000 .000
    Brian Shackelford, P0000000 .000
    Todd Coffey, P0000000 .000
    Josh Hancock, P0000000 .000
   b- Jacob Cruz, PH1000000 .236
a-flied out for Ortiz in the 7th
b-grounded out for Hancock in the 9th
2B - Felipe Lopez (34, Marquis), Chris Denorfia (2, Marquis)
HR - Felipe Lopez (22, Eldred), Austin Kearns (17, Marquis), Edwin Encarnacion (9, Marquis)
RBI - Felipe Lopez 2 (84), Austin Kearns (66), Edwin Encarnacion 2 (31), Chris Denorfia (2)
2-OUT RBI - Felipe Lopez 2 (36), Edwin Encarnacion 2 (14)
Team LOB - 6
DP - Dunn, Aurilia-F. Lopez-Dunn
E - Austin Kearns (3, throwing error)
Cincinnati Reds
Ramon Ortiz 6566313 5.36
Allan Simpson (L,0-1) 0.1033200 12.27
Brian Shackelford0000000 2.43
Todd Coffey 0.2100000 4.50
Josh Hancock 1100000 2.08
HBP - Pujols (by Allan Simpson), Luna (by Brian Shackelford)
WP - Ramon Ortiz (4)
Pitches-Strikes - Ramon Ortiz 89-54, Allan Simpson 19-7, Brian Shackelford 3-1, Todd Coffey 6-4, Josh Hancock 9-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ramon Ortiz 6-11, Allan Simpson 1-0, Josh Hancock 1-1
Batters Faced - Ramon Ortiz 26, Allan Simpson 4, Brian Shackelford 1, Todd Coffey 2, Josh Hancock 3
St. Louis Cardinals
David Eckstein, SS4000000 .294
Abraham Nunez, 3B3210110 .283
Albert Pujols, 1B2312100 .330
    John Mabry, 1B0000000 .241
Larry Walker, RF2322100 .288
    Cal Eldred, P0000000 .000
    Randy Flores, P0000000 .000
   a- John Rodriguez, PH0000000 .295
   b- Hector Luna, PH-RF0001000 .276
Reggie Sanders, LF3012100 .268
    Julian Tavarez, P0000000 .000
    Jason Isringhausen, P0000000 .000
Mark Grudzielanek, 2B4011002 .291
So Taguchi, CF3011000 .288
Yadier Molina, C4000003 .250
Jason Marquis, P2000000 .310
    Skip Schumaker, RF-LF1100100 .261
a-announced for Flores in the 7th
b-hit by pitch for Rodriguez in the 7th
HR - Albert Pujols (41, Ortiz), Larry Walker 2 (15, Ortiz, Ortiz)
SF - So Taguchi (3)
RBI - Albert Pujols 2 (117), Larry Walker 2 (52), Hector Luna (18), Reggie Sanders 2 (53), Mark Grudzielanek (58), So Taguchi (52)
Team LOB - 3
DP - Pujols-Eckstein
St. Louis Cardinals
Jason Marquis 6755252 4.13
Cal Eldred (BS,1) 0.2111011 2.19
Randy Flores (W,3-1) 0.1000000 3.48
Julian Tavarez (H,31) 1000010 3.48
Jason Isringhausen (S,38) 1100210 2.17
WP - Jason Isringhausen (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Jason Marquis 97-62, Cal Eldred 12-7, Randy Flores 4-2, Julian Tavarez 16-11, Jason Isringhausen 26-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jason Marquis 8-4, Julian Tavarez 1-1, Jason Isringhausen 2-0
Batters Faced - Jason Marquis 26, Cal Eldred 3, Randy Flores 1, Julian Tavarez 3, Jason Isringhausen 6
Game Information
Attendance - 49487
Game Time - 2:37
Temperature - 79
Umpires - Home - Gerry Davis, First Base - Ron Kulpa, Second Base - Derryl Cousins, Third Base - Travis Reininger