Pujols, Cards end half with fight

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 14, 2003

Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals went into the All-Star break fighting for more than just first place.

Pujols was ejected in the first inning after punching San Diego catcher Gary Bennett, yet the Cardinals beat the visiting Padres 3-1 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

One day after Pujols stood at the plate admiring his winning homer in the 11th inning, he was hit in the shoulder blade by the first pitch he saw from Adam Eaton.

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''Last night he … watched it and watched it and watched it,'' Bennett said. ''Look, nice going. Just get around the bases. It irritated a lot of us.''

Both benches cleared and Eaton was immediately ejected, along with Pujols, Bennett and San Diego manager Bruce Bochy. During a brief confrontation, Pujols punched Bennett in the face.

The Padres were steamed at plate umpire Mark Carlson about Eaton's ejection because there had been no warning before the game. Eaton said he hit Pujols with his slowest breaking ball of the year, which he said should have made it clear he wasn't trying to hurt anyone.

''It was the worst judgment I've ever seen,'' Bochy said. ''The pitch didn't warrant an ejection. It's irrational, and can't happen.''

Kerry Robinson tripled off Mike Matthews (3-4) and scored the go-ahead run on Mike Matheny's sacrifice fly in the seventh for the Cardinals, who entered the break one game behind first-place Houston in the NL Central.

Pujols, who leads the majors with a .368 batting average, wasn't available for comment because he left for the All-Star game before the game ended. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa didn't exactly defend Pujols' actions Saturday night.

''Thirty years ago when Stan (Musial) and Red (Schoendienst) played it would never happen,'' La Russa said. ''But everybody, when you hit a dramatic home run, you make gestures.

''The Padres do it, everybody does it.''

The Cardinals are 29-4 against the Padres since the start of the 1999 season and have swept them five of the last six series.

Marlins 11, Expos 4

At Montreal, rookie Dontrelle Willis won his eighth straight decision and Ivan Rodriguez had four hits and five RBIs for Florida.

Plate umpire Marty Foster sustained a concussion and had to be taken off on a stretcher after being hit on the mask by a pitch. He was examined at a hospital before being cleared to fly home.

Willis (9-1), a late addition to the All-Star team, allowed six hits and three runs - two earned - in five innings.

Mets 4, Phillies 3

At New York, Jason Phillips hit an RBI single in the ninth to end the Mets' six-game skid.

Tom Glavine pitched six solid innings for the Mets, who overcame another blown save by Armando Benitez (3-3) and ended Philadelphia's five-game winning streak.

Former New York and Philadelphia reliever Tug McGraw threw out the ceremonial first pitch as the Mets honored their 1973 NL championship team. McGraw, recovering from surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor, got a warm ovation from the crowd.

Astros 5, Pirates 2

At Houston, Tim Redding (6-8) pitched six scoreless innings and Lance Berkman homered for the Astros. Billy Wagner got his 25th save.

Dodgers 9, Rockies 3

At Denver, Jolbert Cabrera hit a three-run double and Wilson Alvarez (1-1) got his first win in more than a year. The Dodgers scored five in the first and three in the ninth to beat Denny Neagle (2-3) and win for the fourth time in 16 games.

Diamondbacks 7, Giants 4

At Phoenix, Luis Gonzalez, Steve Finley and Shea Hillenbrand each drove in a pair of runs in the first two innings as Arizona avoided a three-game sweep.

Rookie Brandon Webb (7-2) struggled through a four-run first, then shut down the Giants on two hits for the next five.

Barry Bonds was 0-for-2 with two walks to snap a streak of home runs in five consecutive games.

Braves 7, Cubs 2

At Chicago, Vinny Castilla capped a remarkable series against the Cubs, getting three hits and driving in two runs to pace Atlanta.

Castilla finished the series 11-for-15 (.733) with 10 RBIs.

Shane Reynolds (7-4) allowed seven hits and an unearned run in six innings.