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Red October! Cards KO champs
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 6      3   Final
10/05/2002 10:53 pm ET 
 Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
 D-Backs 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 4 0
 Cardinals 0 1 1 2 0 0 0 2 X 6 9 0
Red October! Cards KO champs
Cardinals finish off D-Backs with sweep
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com

Albert Pujols and Miguel Cairo celebrate after they played major roles in the Cards' Game 3 victory. (Diane Wilson/AP)
ST. LOUIS -- Down go the champs.

Long live the Cardinals?

Behind some sterling defense, a slew of timely hits and a gutsy performance from the bullpen -- exactly the elements that have made the Redbirds winners all year long -- St. Louis defeated Arizona, 6-3, on Saturday night. The Cardinals completed an improbable three-game sweep of the defending World Series champion Diamondbacks in their National League Division Series.

On Wednesday, they'll begin the NL Championship Series against either Atlanta or San Francisco.

Miguel Cairo came up biggest for the Cardinals for the second straight game, driving in a pair of runs after starting in place of the injured Scott Rolen. Cairo, who was no slam dunk to get the start, had three hits and reached base four times, scoring twice. Andy Benes lasted just 4 2/3 innings, getting into trouble in the fifth, but the St. Louis bullpen tossed 4 1/3 shutout innings.

"We've got a real team," said manager Tony La Russa. "I mean, I feel like we're never at a disadvantage. If the wind's blowing out, if the wind's blowing in, we can do this. We have left-handers, right-handers. We have a good team."

    Miguel Cairo   /   IF
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 200
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Hit chart
Yankees site
On Thursday at Bank One Ballpark, Cairo came in to play third base in a double switch soon after the injured Rolen was removed from the game. His run-scoring single was the difference in a 2-1 win. Saturday, he was rewarded with his second career postseason start.

"I was just lucky and blessed that I got a chance to do it," Cairo said. "I gotta say thank you to Tony (La Russa) for giving me a chance to play today."

Early in the game, it looked like the Cardinals just might lose, for only the fifth time in their last 28 games. David Dellucci's two-run homer off of Benes in the second inning put the Diamondbacks on the board first and momentarily dulled the enthusiasm of the more than 52,000 fans at Busch Stadium. But Benes seemed to settle in after that, retiring the next nine batters.

"The (whole) second half, it's been the same story," staff ace Matt Morris said of Benes. "He's been gutting it out and making pitches. He gave up two hits. They were pretty big hits, but he kept us in the game. We had the lead when he left (and) never relinquished it."

Meanwhile, the Cardinals chipped away at the usually reliable Miguel Batista, who defeated them in last season's Division Series. Batista walked Albert Pujols and Tino Martinez to lead off the second, and two batters later, Cairo's RBI single made it a 2-1 game.

  Postseason poll
"Today I took it like it was one of the regular games," Cairo said. "Tony's been keeping the whole bench real fresh. The whole season he gives a day off to the regular guys, and today he gave me the chance to play. I came through. I was trying to take advantage of the chance they gave me, and I just got lucky today."

Fernando Vina, who tallied nine hits in the series, got another rally going in the third. He singled, moved to second when Edmonds walked and came home on a Pujols single to right.

St. Louis took the lead in dramatic fashion in the fourth. After Batista hit Cairo on his backside with a pitch, Mike Matheny singled him over to third. Benes then executed a splendid squeeze bunt to score a tumbling Cairo.

"We knew the guy needed to throw a strike (on a) 3-1 (count) and he threw a pretty good pitch," Benes said. "I didn't hit it hard, but got it far enough out that Miguel could score."

Vina followed with a run-scoring single to right, but was caught stealing to end the inning. Still, it was 4-2, and with Benes picking up steam, the Cardinals appeared to be in fine shape.

But catcher Rod Barajas, making his first start of the series, made it a 4-3 game with a solo homer off of Benes in the fifth. A pair of walks in the same inning spelled the end for the St. Louis starter, who gave way to Jeff Fassero.

Steve Finley, the first batter to face Fassero, singled to left, but Pujols threw out Chris Donnels trying to score from second with what would have been the tying run.

"I'm coming (into) a situation to get a left-hander out," Fassero said. "Didn't get him out the way I wanted, but everything worked out all right."

    Andy Benes   /   P
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 245
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Cardinals site
etopps
From there, the St. Louis bullpen did its usual superb job. Fassero pitched a scoreless sixth, and Rick White and Steve Kline were perfect in the seventh and eighth, respectively. With Jason Isringhausen looming in the ninth, a one-run lead was already daunting.

But thanks again to Cairo, the Cardinals put the game out of reach in the bottom of the eighth. Pujols led off with a walk against D-Backs closer Byung-Hyun Kim, and Martinez reached on a force at second. Cairo doubled home Martinez for the first insurance run, and two batters later, pinch-hitter Kerry Robinson singled Cairo in.

"Our guys that we've got on the bench, all year long they've been coming through," Pujols said. "And Miguel was one of the guys today and Thursday. That's the way it is. He played a good game today. Everybody played a good game."

Isringhausen, who has been bothered by tendinitis in his right shoulder, showed no ill effects in pitching a perfect ninth. It was his second save of the series, and his fifth in five career playoff chances. Isringhausen has never allowed a run in the postseason.

"It's one step farther than I've been the last two years," said Isringhausen, who played on Oakland teams that were eliminated in the first round in 2000 and 2001. "But we've got to keep going. We've got two more steps to go, but we'll take them one at a time. And if we get to play in the World Series, it's gonna be great."

Back to WorldSeries.com The Cardinals refused to discuss whom they might rather face in the next round, except to admit that it might be nice to open at home. If the Braves win their NLDS, St. Louis will travel to Turner Field for Games 1 and 2. If the Giants win, the NLCS starts at Busch Stadium.

But for this team, that has overcome so much this season, from boatloads of injuries to the deaths of star pitcher Darryl Kile and legendary broadcaster Jack Buck, it really doesn't seem to matter. All they know is they have eight more games to win, and they'll reach their ultimate goal.

"First, we did it for DK (Kile)," Cairo said. "He deserves it. He's with us here. He's gonna be here through the whole thing. He's not here in body, but I know in heart and everything he was here. Sometimes it's hard, but we've got to keep going. This one was for him. This one is dedicated to him and we've got to keep doing it. One step. We've got two more to go and we're gonna try to do it."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. He can be reached at Matthew_H_Leach@yahoo.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.




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BOX SCORE
St Louis Cardinals 6, Arizona Diamondbacks 3
 
Arizona AB R H RBI BBSOLOBAVG
Womack, SS 4000011.154
Spivey, 2B 3000110.154
Finley, CF 3010110.222
Williams, 3B 4000011.083
Durazo, 1B 4000010.000
McCracken, RF 3110110.364
Dellucci, LF 4112011.286
Barajas, C 3111000.250
Batista, P 1000010.000
Swindell, P 0000000.000
a-Donnels, PH 0000100.000
Helling, P 0000000.000
b-Moeller, PH 1000000.400
Myers, P 0000000.000
Kim, P 0000000.000
Totals30343483 
 
a-Walked for Swindell in the 5th. b-Flied out for Helling in the 7th.
 
BATTING
HR: Dellucci (1, 2nd inning off Benes, 1 on, 1 out), Barajas (1, 5th inning off Benes, 0 on, 1 out).
RBI: Dellucci 2 (2), Barajas (1).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Williams.
Team LOB: 4.
 
FIELDING
DP: (Spivey-Womack-Durazo).
Pickoffs: Swindell (Vina at 1st base).
 
 
St Louis AB R H RBI BBSOLOBAVG
Vina, 2B 4121100.600
Drew, RF 5010014.222
Edmonds, CF 3000121.273
Pujols, LF 2111200.300
Martinez, 1B 3100103.000
Renteria, SS 4000013.250
Cairo, 3B 32320001.000
Matheny, C 3110102.444
Benes, P 1001000.000
Fassero, P 0000000.000
White, P 0000000.000
a-Perez, PH 1000000.000
Kline, P 0000000.000
b-Robinson, PH 1011000.500
Isringhausen, P 0000000.000
Totals306966413 
 
a-Grounded out for White in the 7th. b-Singled for Kline in the 8th.
 
BATTING
2B: Cairo (1, Kim).
RBI: Cairo 2 (3), Pujols (3), Benes (1), Vina (1), Robinson (1).
2-out RBI: Cairo 2, Pujols, Vina, Robinson.
S: Benes.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Martinez, Drew 2.
GIDP: Renteria.
Team LOB: 8.
 
BASERUNNING
CS: Vina (1, 2nd base by Swindell/Barajas).
PO: Vina (1st base by Swindell).
 
FIELDING
Outfield assists: Pujols (Donnels at home).
 
Arizona IP H R ER BBSOHRERA
Batista (L, 0-1) 3.25443109.82
Swindell 0.100000027.00
Helling 2.01000200.00
Myers 1.01000100.00
Kim 1.022230018.00
 
St Louis IP H R ER BBSOHRERA
Benes 4.22334525.79
Fassero (W, 2-0) 1.12000200.00
White (H, 1) 1.00000100.00
Kline (H, 2) 1.00000000.00
Isringhausen (S, 2) 1.00000000.00
 
Balk: Benes.
IBB: Matheny (by Kim).
HBP: Cairo (by Batista).
Pitches-strikes: Batista 70-40, Swindell 0-0, Helling 23-16, Myers 16-10, Kim 38-19, Benes 92-51, Fassero 12-10, White 10-9, Kline 12-7, Isringhausen 10-7.
Ground outs-fly outs: Batista 6-4, Swindell 0-0, Helling 0-4, Myers 2-0, Kim 1-2, Benes 3-6, Fassero 0-1, White 1-1, Kline 1-2, Isringhausen 2-1.
Batters faced: Batista 19, Swindell 0, Helling 7, Myers 4, Kim 8, Benes 20, Fassero 5, White 3, Kline 3, Isringhausen 3.
Inherited runners-scored: Swindell 1-0, Fassero 2-0.
Umpires: HP: Angel Hernandez. 1B: Jerry Layne. 2B: Tim Tschida. 3B: Ted Barrett. LF: Mike Reilly. RF: Paul Emmel.
Weather: 72 degrees, clear.
Wind: 3 mph, In from RF.
T: 3:14.
Att: 52,189.
 
Box score official statistics approved by Major League Baseball and the Office of the Commissioner