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Cardinals cooled off by former 'mate
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07/23/2004 11:00 PM ET 
Cardinals cooled off by former 'mate

Jeff Suppan regroups after giving up Barry Bonds' three-run homer. (Scott Rovak/Cardinals)
ST. LOUIS -- On their recent hot streak, the Cardinals have handled some of the National League's elite pitchers, recording wins over Greg Maddux, Matt Clement, Carlos Zambrano and Ben Sheets. Maybe what they needed Friday was to see Giants stud Jason Schmidt.

Instead, they went up against old teammate Dustin Hermanson, and they had nothing for him. Hermanson took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Albert Pujols crushed a solo homer, and the Giants cruised to a 7-2 win that snapped St. Louis' string of five straight wins.

It was the Cards' second loss in their last 14 home games and third in their last 18 overall. The Cubs' win against Philadelphia cut the Redbirds' lead in the National League Central Division to nine games.

Jeff Suppan (9-6) lost for the first time since June 6, hanging tough for most of the game before serving up a three-run homer to Barry Bonds in the seventh. It was career homer No. 683 for the certain Hall of Famer but his first base hit in nine career at-bats against Suppan. The St. Louis right-hander was bidding to become his team's fourth 10-game winner.

"We needed to pitch to Bonds carefully, and me trying to be too careful, I ended up making a mistake," said Suppan of the homer that put the Giants ahead 6-0. "I put the team in a hole."

Manager Tony La Russa conceded after the game that once Suppan fell behind Bonds in the fateful at-bat, he should have ordered an intentional walk. Bonds went deep on a 3-1 pitch with runners on the corners.

"In that situation," La Russa said, "as soon as the count got away from us, that's my mistake. That's where he should have been walked. That's my call. I messed that one up."

La Russa dismissed the notion of going to a left-handed reliever to try to retire Bonds. It would have been difficult anyway, as both base hits came with two out -- not really providing enough time to get a reliever up once things got troublesome.

The rare loss offered plenty to dissect, but in the end the Cards simply didn't pitch or hit enough to beat the playoff-contending Giants. Suppan allowed the first three runners to reach base in the fourth inning, putting him in a tough position no matter how smoothly he worked through the jam.

And Bonds wasn't the only one who went yard, as Ray Durham hit a solo shot off Suppan in the fifth. Meanwhile, too many quick at-bats by one of the NL's best offenses allowed Hermanson to cruise through the first six innings.

"We've got to swing the bat better than we did," said Pujols. "Dustin was hitting some spots, mixing his pitches, outstanding. You've got to give credit to him because he stayed out there and didn't make a mistake. Even the ball that I hit out, it was out of the strike zone."

   Jeff Suppan  /   P
Born: 01/02/75
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Suppan was nearly as sharp as Hermanson early, getting through the first three innings with only a single and a walk against him. But J.T. Snow led off the fourth with a single, and Suppan walked Bonds before Pedro Feliz's single loaded the bases.

A.J. Pierzynski's sacrifice fly put San Francisco ahead, and Marquis Grissom drove in a run with a grounder to third. Scott Rolen had a chance to make a play at the plate but bobbled the ball. It would have been a tough out even if Rolen had fielded the ball cleanly.

It was 3-0 going into the seventh, and still Hermanson had not permitted a hit. Following a pair of two-out singles, Bonds came to the plate. La Russa allowed Suppan to face the left-handed slugger, and Bonds made the home team pay by crushing a homer deep into the right-field stands.

Pujols got the Cards on the board in the bottom of that inning, and Reggie Sanders' RBI double cut the lead to four runs, but John Mabry popped up against Scott Eyre to end the Redbirds' only rally.

"We had a solid game," said La Russa. "The score is a little misleading. Feliz had a nice hit. They got the two runs on nice, good at-bats, but other than that we were in the game. You've just got to give them credit."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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