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Sweep by Cardinals Dedicated to Kile

National League: After beating Arizona, 6-3, to eliminate the defending champions, they remember late pitcher.

October 06, 2002|From Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — As the St. Louis Cardinals ran onto the field to celebrate their three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League division series, Matt Morris remembered to carry the No. 57 jersey of Darryl Kile.

"We did it for D.K.," Miguel Cairo said. "I know in our hearts he was here."

After getting past Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling, St. Louis quickly and emotionally finished off the defending World Series champions.

Cairo, starting in place of injured Scott Rolen, drove in two runs and scored twice as the Cardinals beat the Diamondbacks, 6-3, Saturday night.

Kile, a former 20-game winner, died in June, four days after longtime Cardinal broadcaster Jack Buck.

"Sometimes it's hard," Cairo said, "but we're going to keep going, we're going to keep going to work for him."

The Cardinals had inspired play down the stretch, winning 21 of their last 25 in the regular season, and advanced to the National League championship series for the second time in three years.

"I wasn't trying to put pressure on myself," Cairo said. "I was just trying to take it like a regular game, relax and have fun. It was an excellent approach."

It was typical for the Cardinals, who kept adjusting en route to the NL Central title. They were forced to use 14 starting pitchers and 26 overall.

Now they've advanced to the NLCS, against the Atlanta Braves or San Francisco Giants starting Wednesday.

"We really wanted to try to win it and get some rest before the next round," leadoff hitter Fernando Vina said. "We didn't want to face Randy and Curt, we wanted to get it over with."

There's no telling when Rolen will return.

The All-Star third baseman sprained his left shoulder in Game 2, which Cairo won with an RBI single.

The Diamondbacks, who won the World Series in record speed--it took them only four years--lost their crown in just three games.

Minus injured star Luis Gonzalez, who separated his shoulder in the final week of the regular season at Busch Stadium, Arizona totaled only six runs and 18 hits in the series against St. Louis, the team it defeated in five games in the first round last year.

The Diamondbacks batted only .184.

"Our bats were silent an awful lot," said David Dellucci, who hit a two-run homer in the second inning. "That's something this team's not used to. But you have to look at the people they had on the mound."

The Diamondbacks also missed Craig Counsell and Danny Bautista, two more injured players.

"It puts a strain on the offense," Manager Bob Brenly said. "It gives the opposition the opportunity to pitch around the hitters they think can hurt them the most. It started to show up at the end of the season, and really here in the playoffs."

The Cardinals have swept their way into the NLCS three times since baseball expanded its playoffs in 1995, also taking the Braves in three straight in 2000 and the Padres in 1996.

Counting the regular season, the Cardinals have beaten the Diamondbacks seven consecutive times, including a victory over Johnson in Game 1.

Schilling started Game 2, and St. Louis won after he departed.

Cairo tacked on a run-scoring double in the eighth as the Cardinals scored twice off Byung-Hyun Kim.

Pinch-hitter Kerry Robinson added a run-scoring single in the eighth.

Pitcher Andy Benes squeezed home the go-ahead run for St. Louis. Albert Pujols drove in a run and saved a run with his second outfield assist to highlight this victory.

Pujols saved a 4-3 lead in the fifth when he threw out Chris Donnels at the plate from left field on Steve Finley's two-out hit.

Manager Tony La Russa started Pujols, who led the team with 127 runs batted in during the regular season, in left field instead of at third base to allow him to concentrate more on hitting.

Cairo had an RBI single in the second off Miguel Batista.

The St. Louis bullpen overcame a wild outing from Benes, who got the start in Game 3 in place of injured Woody Williams.

Benes walked four and gave up two homers, Dellucci's two-run shot in the second and a solo drive in the fifth by Rod Barajas that cut the Diamondbacks' deficit to 4-3.

The homers were the only hits allowed in 4 2/3 innings by Benes, who entered with a string of 17 consecutive scoreless innings.

Benes' biggest contribution was a squeeze bunt in the fourth that put the Cardinals ahead, 3-2.

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