The Cardinals finished off a sweep and added more distance between first and second place in the National League Central with an 8-5 win over the Devil Rays in Tampa Sunday.
Jeff Suppan got his first win over Tampa Bay in 11 tries by going 6 2/3 innings and allowing five runs off seven hits and three walks. He was rolling along smoothly with a 7-1 lead, when the Devil Rays exploded for four runs in the seventh inning. Suppan allowed a two-out RBI single to Carl Crawford to start the rally. He then allowed an infield single to Julio Lugo and threw a wild pitch, to put Crawford on third and Lugo on second.
Suppan was pulled for Randy Flores who served up a three-run double to Aubrey Huff before getting the final out of the inning. The lead was cut to 7-5.
John Mabry walked with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth to make it 8-5. Mabry was 1-for-4 with four RBI’s. He drove in two runs without getting a base hit and knocked in the other two with a bases-loaded double in the fourth. He went to the plate with the bases juiced three times on Sunday.
In the eighth inning, Al Reyes allowed a lead-off walk by Travis Lee, then Damon Hollins followed up with a single, but Reyes got the next three batters out to slip out of the jam. In the ninth, Jason Isringhausen put the side down in order for his 21st save of the season.
David Eckstein proved to be the catalyst on the base paths for the Cardinals by going 2-for-4 with four runs. Albert Pujols, who is third in the National League with 56 RBI’s, went 3-for-4 with two runs batted in. He raised his batting average, which second-best in the N.L. and fifth best overall, to .332.
The Cardinals’ sweep combined with the Cubs three straight losses over the weekend gave St. Louis a 9 ½ game lead in the National League Central.