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Walker Walks, Then Molina Wins It

August 08, 2004|From Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — Larry Walker is 1-0 with the St. Louis Cardinals, and he played a supporting role in the victory.

Rookie Yadier Molina, batting with the bases loaded after an intentional walk to Walker, blooped a single to center with two out in the ninth inning Saturday for a 2-1 victory over the New York Mets.

Walker, acquired in a trade with the Colorado Rockies on Friday night, was welcomed with a standing ovation that lasted well over a minute when he pinch-hit with two on and one out in the seventh. A near-sellout crowd of 45,364 stayed on its feet throughout the at-bat and gave him another ovation even after he struck out against Kris Benson.

"Probably one of the most nervous at-bats I've had in my career was today," Walker said.

"The ovation I got, even after I struck out, I felt like I was supposed to wave to the crowd and say thanks. It was amazing."

Walker soon participated in the winning rally. The fans booed when the five-time All-Star was walked intentionally by Mike Stanton (0-5) with runners on second and third and two out in the ninth.

Molina, younger brother of the Angels' Bengie and Jose, followed with his single.

"They walked a good hitter," Molina said. "They're just playing the game. That was my part."

Met Manager Art Howe said it would have been dumb to pitch to Walker. Stanton blamed himself for walking the first two hitters he faced, including John Mabry on four pitches.

"When you get yourself in a corner like that, there's no room for error," Stanton said. "It's just ridiculous. I can't go out there and do what I just did."

Walker arrived at Busch Stadium about a half-hour before the game, too late to be in the starting lineup. But he went to right field after pinch-hitting, perhaps easing his transition to St. Louis after 9 1/2 seasons in Colorado.

Steve Kline and Julian Tavarez (4-3) combined to strike out the side in the top of the ninth for the Cardinals, who have won 15 of 19 and have the best record in the major leagues at 71-38.

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