St. Louis David Eckstein won two games with squeeze bunts in July. Sunday, he shocked the Atlanta Braves with the long ball.
The diminutive St. Louis Cardinals' leadoff hitter hit a grand slam off Chris Reitsma with one out in the ninth inning for a 5-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves. He hit his fourth career grand slam and the second game-winning slam of his career on a 1-0 pitch from Reitsma (3-3), who had entered the game with nine straight saves.
"Once in a while," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said, "you get a miracle."
The 5-foot-7 Eckstein hit a drive over the left-field wall that helped the Cardinals take two of three in a series matching NL division leaders and the teams with the two best records in the league.
Abraham Nunez and So Taguchi singled, and pinch-hitter Hector Luna reached on an infield hit that glanced off Reitsma's glove to start the ninth. Pinch-hitter Scott Seabol popped up before the game-winner from Eckstein, who also doubled, walked twice and stole a base.
"I didn't even watch it, I ran," Eckstein said. "That's probably all I've got right there."
Ray King (3-2) got the last out in the top of the ninth in relief of 16-game winner Chris Carpenter, who allowed two runs and four hits in eight innings with 10 strikeouts and two walks. Carpenter missed the manic celebration at home plate, watching the festivities from the clubhouse as he iced his arm.
"There were a few guys in here that went crazy just like they did out there," Carpenter said. "It was a great ending."
The winning grand slam was the Cardinals' first since Tommy Herr beat the New York Mets on April 18, 1987, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It was Eckstein's first game-winning slam since he connected off Toronto's Pedro Borbon on April 28, 2002, with his second grand slam in two days when he was playing for the Angels.
Not surprisingly for a small guy, he prefers the squeeze.
"You like to win the game, but there's something about the squeeze play," Eckstein said. "It's do or die. I get more opportunity to do that, too."
Astros 8, Giants 1
San Francisco - Roger Clemens won his fourth straight start with another dominant road performance, and Jason Lane's three-run homer capped Houston's eighth-inning rally. Clemens (11-4) earned his 339th career win and lowered the majors' tiniest earned-run average to 1.38 with seven outstanding innings in the first appearance of his career in San Francisco.
Padres 3, Nationals 0
Washington - Jake Peavy scattered five hits and helped himself with an RBI single, and Eric Young and Xavier Nady added solo homers to lead San Diego past the Nationals for a three-game series sweep. The Nationals have lost eight of their last nine series and are just 6-17 since the All-Star break. The Padres have won four straight and five of six to get back to a game over .500.
Marlins 2, Reds 0
Cincinnati - Dontrelle Willis allowed four hits in eight innings to earn his career-high 15th win, and Jeff Conine drove in Juan Pierre twice. The Reds tied their season high with four errors - three by starter Ramon Ortiz.
Dodgers 6, Pirates 4
Pittsburgh - Jeff Weaver limited Pittsburgh to five hits and a run over eight innings, and Los Angeles turned a six-run third inning against unexpected rookie starter Ian Snell into victory over the Pirates. With Hee-Seop Choi adding a two-run single in the big inning, the Dodgers won two of three in Pittsburgh.
Brewers 2, Phillies 0
Philadelphia - Tomo Ohka pitched four-hit ball for eight innings, Rickie Weeks drove in two runs, and Milwaukee returned to .500 (56-56) with its sixth victory in eight games. Ohka (7-6) outpitched Vicente Padilla (5-11), striking out a season-high nine without a walk.
D'backs 9, Rockies 4
Phoenix - Luis Gonzalez homered and drove in four runs to help Arizona avoid a three-game sweep. Chad Tracy, Tony Clark and Troy Glaus also homered for the Diamondbacks.
Mets 6, Cubs 1
New York - Victor Zambrano pitched eight strong innings, David Wright drove in three runs, and New York finished a three-game sweep. Cliff Floyd hit his 26th homer for the Mets, who won for the 10th time in 13 home games.