Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards Lose, Gain Ground la Rallies for 6-5 Win; Astros Treading Water

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards Lose, Gain Ground la Rallies for 6-5 Win; Astros Treading Water

Article excerpt

"I fell out of my tree today," is the way Cardinals relief ace Dennis Eckersley related his predicament Sunday.

Eckersley had earned saves in 12 consecutive opportunities before Sunday when he failed to hang onto a three-run eighth-inning lead as the Cardinals were caught and passed by the grateful Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5.

The Dodgers thus maintained their half-game lead in the National League Western Division while the Cardinals actually gained ground while losing, lessening the potential damaging nature of Sunday's proceedings. With Houston losing again to Colorado, the Astros lost another game off the schedule in their attempt to catch the Cardinals in the National League Central Division. The Cardinals are 2 1/2 games ahead with 12 to go (11 for Houston) and their magic number is 10 for winning the title. Yet, Cardinals outfielder Brian Jordan said, "Colorado is trying to help us. But we don't take advantage of it." Eckersley (0-6) hadn't blown a save since July 21 when Chicago's Brian M cRae hit a ninth-inning homer, and he is 28 for 32 for the season. "This park hasn't been good to me," said Eckersley, who didn't have to mention his famous moment here. That came in 1988 when Los Angeles' Kirk Gibson hit a dramatic, two-run, game-winning homer in a World Series game that Eckersley's Oakland Athletics were on the way to winning. "We're still in first, you know what I mean?" Eckersley said. "But games like this just break your heart." The Cardinals have their remaining 12 games, beginning with three against the Cubs on Tuesday night at St. Louis, against the Central Division. To date, the Cardinals have marched like Sherman through Atlanta against that division, going 29-11. Conversely, they were 22-27 against the Western Division and 29-32 against the East. But manager Tony La Russa said, "When the Cubs come to town, I think they'll be interested." In their last eight games, the Cardinals are 3-5, including 3-4 on this trip on which they gained a game on Houston. "I look at it this way," La Russa said. "We played seven times, we played as hard as we could seven times and we got three wins. If that's your best shot, I have no regrets. If that's what the numbers turn out to be, what are you going to do? "If we go 3-4 and say we should have gone 5-2, well, how are you going to go 5-2? "The fact that we come home with a magic number of 10 is significant. But sometimes you have big-league heartbreakers. When it's your turn to have a win like that, you feel like you're on top of the world. You've got to deal with both of them." The Cardinals jumped to a 5-1 lead by the end of the fourth inning, which ended with Dodgers flame-thowing reliever Chan Ho Park fanning Gary Gaetti with the bases loaded. They would go hitless the rest of the way against Park, Scott Radinsky (4-1) and former Cardinal Todd Worrell, who collected his 43rd save. …

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