St. Louis beats Atlanta for first time in 2003

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Earlier this month, Garrett Stephenson got

demoted to the bullpen.

On Saturday, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa showered

Stephenson with compliments after the right-hander dominated the

Atlanta Braves for eight innings in a 3-1 victory.

"Garrett is absolutely fearless," La Russa said. "Sometimes I

think that fearlessness becomes a little carelessness, but he was

out there today and he was going to give us a chance to win.

"In all fairness, he's done that a lot more than his record

shows."

Eduardo Perez had two hits and an RBI as the Cardinals, despite

continued offensive woes, ended an eight-game losing streak against

the Braves that extended to May 2002. They've totaled 10 runs and

28 hits in the first five games of a six-game homestand, going 2-3.

"It's crunch time right now," Perez said. "We've been here

before, and we just have to play."

Albert Pujols got an infield hit in the fourth to extend his

hitting streak to a career-best 23 games, although he was easily

thrown out trying to advance on a medium fly ball to right on the

next at-bat. Pujols leads the major leagues with a .370 average and

is 35-for-90 (.389) during the streak.

Stephenson (6-11) has had two of his strongest starts of the

season in the last three outings since emerging from a brief

demotion to the bullpen. He allowed a run on six hits in 7 1-3

innings with one strikeout and two walks in his 100th career start.

His career record in August improved to 10-1 with a 2.38 ERA.

"I don't know if I'm fearless," Stephenson said. "I respect

everybody but I don't fear anybody.

"It doesn't matter who's up there, if you make the right pitch,

most of the time you're going to get an out."

Steve Kline and Jason Isringhausen each got an out in the

eighth. Isringhausen started the ninth by giving up a single and

throwing a wild pitch, then struck out the side for his 10th save

in 11 chances.

Scott Rolen and Tino Martinez walked off Shane Reynolds (9-6) in

the second to set the table for an RBI single by Perez. Perez

doubled with one out in the fifth and scored on Chris Widger's

single to make it 2-0.

The Braves accumulated three of their hits in the sixth but

ended up with just one run on Chipper Jones' long single off the

right-field wall because of a double play. Atlanta managed only one

extra-base hit, a double by Gary Sheffield in the sixth, after

hitting four home runs on Friday.

The Cardinals added an insurance run in the eighth when reliever

Ray King threw a wild pitch to the screen during what was supposed

to be an intentional walk to Pujols, allowing Miguel Cairo to score

from third.

"Two innings and I give up one hit and you want to talk about

that throw?" King said. "Come on man, be serious."

Reynolds lasted six innings, giving up two runs on five hits,

but didn't get his usual run support from the Braves' offense.

Atlanta had been averaging seven runs in his starts.

"I think it was just the Cardinals' day and not our day,"

Reynolds said. "You can't expect our offense to go out every

single day and score as many runs as they've been scoring."Game notes
Pujols' hitting streak is the Cardinals' longest since Joe

McEwing hit in 25 straight in 1999. ... The Braves fell to 26-9 in

day games. ... Andruw Jones is 5-for-28 for his career against

Stephenson. ... Jim Edmonds is 1-for-16 since returning from a

strained shoulder on Tuesday. ... The Cardinals were 2-for-6 with

runners in scoring position, making them a still feeble 5-for-33

for the homestand.