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Cards outduel another Diamondbacks ace 2-1

After beating Randy Johnson in the opener, St. Louis holds on to beat Curt Schilling for a 2-0 NLDS series lead.

©Associated Press
October 4, 2002

PHOENIX -- Curt Schilling couldn't beat St. Louis, either, and the Cardinals need just one victory to sweep the World Series champion Diamondbacks.

Two days after the Cardinals battered Randy Johnson, Chuck Finley outpitched Schilling in a 2-1 St. Louis victory Thursday.

Former Rays player Miguel Cairo's ninth-inning single off reliever Mike Koplove drove in Edgar Renteria with the go-ahead run for the Cardinals, who swept the first two of the best-of-five National League series.

"A split would have been good for us," Finley said. "Obviously coming out of here 2-0 looks very, very good. This is what we dreamed of doing."

The victory came at a cost. Third baseman Scott Rolen left after he was clipped in the left side by pinch-runner Alex Cintron while scooping up a grounder in the seventh inning. X-rays were negative, but the preliminary diagnosis was a sprained shoulder. A closer exam was scheduled for today in St. Louis.

"I do think that his continuing to play for sure in this series is very questionable," manager Tony La Russa said. "We'll have our fingers crossed, but I think there's a chance he might have played his last game (this year)."

The Diamondbacks, who had trailed 1-0 since the third on J.D. Drew's two-out homer off Schilling, tied it with an unearned run in the eighth.

Another former Rays player, Quinton McCracken, doubled over the outstretched glove of Drew in right to score Greg Colbrunn, who reached on a fielding error by Albert Pujols -- Rolen's replacement at third.

With the late Darryl Kile's widow Flynn again in the stands, as she was in Tuesday night's opener, the inspired Cardinals moved within a win of returning to the NL Championship Series for the second time in three seasons.

After the death of Kile and longtime broadcaster Jack Buck, St. Louis can complete the sweep with a victory at Busch Stadium on Saturday. Miguel Batista pitches for the Diamondbacks against Andy Benes.

Finley, two months shy of his 40th birthday, shut out Arizona on four hits in 6 1/3 innings before leaving with a muscle cramp in his pitching hand.

Acquired from Cleveland on July 19, Finley went 7-4 with the Cardinals. The left-hander was 0-2 in the postseason coming in, losing twice to Seattle in the first round last year.

"You can't give him enough credit," La Russa said. "The first couple of innings, he made great pitches, then he pitched even better. He showed up so big for us."

Schilling, who had struggled in his past seven starts, scattered seven hits, struck out seven and walked one.

"Sometimes you do your job and still get beat," Schilling said.

It was an outstanding outing, except for a 2-and-2, two-out pitch to Drew, who hit it into the leftfield seats.

Jason Isringhausen pitched a perfect ninth for the save.

Fernando Vina was 4-for-5, making him 7-for-11 in the series for the Cards.

Cairo, who entered during a double-switch an inning earlier, singled up the middle to put St. Louis ahead for good.

"I'm blessed right now," Cairo said. "I'm in the best organization in baseball. They have been treating me so well. To get that base hit makes it much better. What a beautiful day today for me."

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