<
>

Williams goes eight innings in 5-1 win

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Woody Williams' long wait for his first victory
is over.

Williams, an 18-game winner last year, won for the first time in
seven starts this season with eight strong innings in the St. Louis
Cardinals' 5-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.

"It's just nice to be able to go out there and be under control
and not to allow the big inning," Williams said. "That's what's
been biting me so far this season."

Mike Matheny drove in two runs without a hit, getting RBI on a
bases-loaded groundout in the second and a squeeze bunt in the
sixth. A third run scored for St. Louis when Williams' two-out
grounder in the second scooted between first baseman Adam LaRoche's
legs for an error.

The Cardinals, who are 7-11 at Busch Stadium, won consecutive
home games for the first time this season. They're 10-5 on the
road.

Williams (1-3) entered with a 6.27 ERA and only four victories
in his last 18 starts dating to last July. Shoulder tendinitis
limited him to five innings in spring training and he struggled to
start the season.

"He's such a proud guy," manager Tony La Russa said. "He
needed something like this today to make a mark, and to build on
that."

Williams was in control in the clubhouse hours before game-time
when he walked in and immediately turned down the stereo. That
carried over to the game when he limited the Braves, who have lost
five of six, to one run and three hits with five strikeouts and two
walks.

"It's my day," Williams said. "I don't like a whole lot of
noise when I'm trying to get ready."

Williams has never started a season 0-4. He outpitched Jaret
Wright (2-3) to raise his career record against the Braves to 3-1
with a 2.05 ERA.

Atlanta committed three errors to hurt Wright, who lasted 5 2-3
innings and gave up four runs -- one earned -- on five hits. The
Braves have scored one run in his last two starts.

"You have to believe in the guy next to you," Wright said.

The Braves scored in the third on a leadoff double by Jesse
Garcia, a sacrifice by Wright and a groundout by Mark DeRosa. They
had only one runner in scoring position over the last six innings.

"He wasn't putting anything over the plate," said Chipper
Jones, who was 0-for-4 and didn't get a ball out of the infield.
"Guys are pressing and going up there and trying to do too much.
We're going through one of those streaks."

The Braves have lost five of six, getting 13 runs in that span.

"I'm not going to take anything away from Woody Williams,"
Marcus Giles said after going 0-for-4. "But we're absolutely awful
now offensively."

The Cardinals loaded the bases to start the second when Ray
Lankford reached on a fielding error by Garcia at shortstop and
Scott Rolen and Edgar Renteria singled. With one out, Lankford
scored on Matheny's groundout, and a second run scored on La
Roche's fielding error on Williams' grounder.

St. Louis added two runs in the sixth on Matheny's squeeze and
Tony Womack's RBI single and Renteria hit his third homer off C.J.
Nitkowski in the eighth.

Game notes
Braves RF J.D. Drew, playing his first game in St. Louis
since being traded, made a nice play when he caught Renteria's
drive in the corner at the wall. Drew's return was met with
relative indifference. ... Williams is 70-45 with a 3.72 ERA at
night and 23-34 with a 4.96 ERA in day games. ... Cardinals RF
Reggie Sanders was a late scratch with an undisclosed illness.
Sanders is in a 2-for-29 slump.