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Williams makes contribution to Cardinals playoff bid

ST. LOUIS -- Woody Williams, a major reason for the St. Louis Cardinals' playoff appearance last season, finally made a meaningful contribution to their stretch drive this year.

Williams won for the first time in more than two months and Jim Edmonds hit a two-run home run in a 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night. Edmonds had three RBIs, and Williams (7-4) allowed one run on four hits for his first victory since beating San Diego on July 1.

It was Williams' second start, both against the Reds, since his second stint on the disabled list this season for a pulled muscle in his left side. He was 7-1 the last two months of 2001 after coming in a trade from the Padres, helping the Cardinals qualify for a wild card berth.

''It was nice to finally get out there and do something to help the team, rather than what I did last week and obviously just sitting around for seven weeks,'' Williams said. ''It just seemed like everybody was at their best and that's what we need to do the rest of the way out.''

Steve Kline got out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, striking out Barry Larkin and Aaron Boone sandwiched around a walk to Adam Dunn.

With closer Jason Isringhausen sidelined by a sore right shoulder, Dave Veres got three outs for his fourth save.

Last Thursday at Cincinnati, Williams gave up five runs on eight hits in four innings of a 7-0 loss to Jimmy Haynes in his second-shortest outing of the year.

Williams has allowed three or fewer runs in 20 of his last 21 starts for a 2.14 ERA during that span.

Williams won despite being handcuffed at the plate, usually a strength for him. He's under orders not to swing the bat hard and took some feeble cuts, going 0-for-2.

''That's the hardest thing for me, to go up there and just stand like a statue,'' Williams said. ''I know in the long run that's what's best for me, and I have to bite the bullet.''

Edmonds hit his 26th homer, and second in four games, after J.D. Drew doubled off Haynes (13-9) with two outs in the third. Edmonds had been in a 3-for-17 slump and did not start Monday against left-hander Shawn Estes.

Edmonds hit a 3-1 pitch into the first row in the left-center field bleachers as center fielder Reggie Taylor just missed on a leaping catch. Edmonds added a sacrifice fly in the eighth off Scott Williamson.

Barry Larkin and Aaron Boone doubled in the first for Cincinnati's only run. Boone has five RBIs in the first two games of the series.

''When you only score one, you don't win many games,'' manager Bob Boone said. ''Scoring one point don't get it done, that's the bottom line.''

Haynes, who threw eight shutout innings with a season-best seven strikeouts last Thursday, was almost as effective. In seven innings, he gave up two runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and one walk.

''The other pitcher pitched a little bit better,'' Haynes said. ''I've been pitching pretty good all year, and these last two outings I may have been pitching better than I have been.''

The main thing lacking in his performance the second time around was offense. Haynes had two hits and a career-best three RBIs last week, but was 0-for-2 with a pair of groundouts this time around.

Notes: Isringhausen, who took a cortisone shot and had an MRI on his shoulder, is expected to be sidelined until the weekend. … Jason LaRue was robbed of a hit in the second inning when Cardinals 3B Scott Rolen snagged his liner, then picked up the ball when his glove came off and threw him out at first. … Williams is 8-2 career at Busch Stadium. … Rolen had two hits and is 6-for-12 lifetime against Haynes. … Dunn was hitless in three at-bats and is in an 11-for-74 slump. The Associated Press