Cards do no wrong

St. Louis in World Series for first time in 17 years

By Ben Walker

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Jim Edmonds made a circus catch. Jeff Suppan outpitched the Rocket. And Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen came through, yet again.

Surrounded by a rollicking sea of red, clearly these St. Louis Cardinals could do no wrong.


With their fans hootin' and hollerin' the whole time, the Cardinals suddenly broke loose in the sixth inning against Roger Clemens. Pujols lined a tying double, Rolen followed with a home run and St. Louis beat the Houston Astros 5-2 Thursday night in Game 7 of the NL championship series.

Next up for the Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox in the World Series opener Saturday night at Fenway Park. By all accounts it should be a classic -- they also met in the 1967 and 1946 Series, and St. Louis won both, each time going the full seven games.

"It's going to be a blast," Edmonds said. "Boston's a great town. They played so well to beat the Yankees."

The Astros-Cardinals matchup was the ultimate hometown series -- the only best-of-seven LCS where the home team won every game.

"We went to Houston, they got the crowd going," Pujols said. "Brought the series back here, did it in front of our home crowd. Like I said, it's amazing."

The club sporting the famed birds-on-the-bat logo captured its 16th pennant. The Cardinals made it by going 6-0 at home this postseason, rallying from a 3-2 deficit against the wild-card Astros.

The Cards did it in front of fans dressed in red from head to toe. Standing and shouting, they simply would not let their team -- which led the majors with 105 wins -- fall short.

"There's no doubt that the enthusiasm of the crowds in both places was a factor in the games. Adrenaline starts kicking in and you get stronger and faster," manager Tony La Russa said.


Suppan overcame a leadoff home run by Craig Biggio to win an apparent mismatch against Clemens. The bullpen combined for three scoreless innings, shutting down Carlos Beltran and Co., with Jason Isringhausen working the ninth for his third save.

"You know there are so many people depending on this right arm to get it done," Clemens said. "I really felt good about our chances tonight. It just didn't work out."

After running away with the NL Central, the Cardinals advanced to their first World Series under La Russa, and first overall since 1987.

Pujols helped give St. Louis the edge at Busch Stadium. His tying double in the sixth inning left him at .500 with four homers and nine RBIs in the series. Overall, the teams combined for 25 home runs, the most in any postseason series.

"It's every little boy's dream. I'm glad to have won the MVP, but that trophy is going to stay right in this room because everybody here is MVP," Pujols said.

Rolen hit a two-run homer, and Larry Walker singled home an insurance run in the eighth.

A catch by Edmonds in the second inniing prevented big trouble for the Cards. Shaded toward right-center, he raced back into the left-center alley and made a headlong dive with two runners on. "It's probably the hardest I ever ran for a ball. It just faded into me," Edmonds said.

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