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Big Unit Chalks Up Win No. 15

For someone who almost had to leave the game due to injury, Tony Womack made quite a splash at the end.

Womack hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning off Dave Veres, and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 Thursday to make Randy Johnson the NL's first 15-game winner.

"A walk-off home run? I've never heard that before," said Womack, whose sixth homer tied his career high set in 1997. "That's a good feeling. But Randy pitched a good game, and he deserved to win."

In the seventh, the slender shortstop leaped high chasing Shawon Dunston's double into the gap. When he came down, his left knee buckled and he crumpled to the ground.

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  • After conferring with manager Buck Showalter and trainers, Womack stayed in the game.

    "He landed awkwardly on his knee," Showalter said. "One thing that gets missed with Tony is that he's a very durable player. He answers the bell."

    Eric Davis' sacrifice fly off Johnson (15-2) put the Cardinals ahead 2-1 in the ninth.

    But Veres (1-3) walked Hanley Frias to lead off the bottom half. Jay Bell, batting for Johnson, sacrificed and Womack sent the ball into the right-field seats. Veres blew a save for the fifth tme in 23 chances.

    "We stole one today, and we're very fortunate. I'm real grateful to Tony, and Hanley, too," Johnson said

    Frias, who made his first start since June 21, replaced Bell at second base, and hit a solo homer the fourth of his career and second this year.

    "We've got some players that are making some good money, so you've just got to wait for a chance to play, and then you've got to do something with it," Frias said.

    Johnson pitched a six-hitter for his major league-leading sixth complete game - the first since a 2-0 loss at Montreal on May 16 - striking out 11 and walking one.

    Johnson, 4-0 in five starts since losing to Colorado on June 24, reached double-digit strikeouts for the 15th time in 21 starts this season and the 140th time in his career. His 221 strikeouts lead the majors.

    Johnson struck out the first five batters and retired the first 15 before Eduardo Perez homered leading off the sixth.

    Darryl Kile allowed one run on Frias' homer in the sixth and three hits in eight innings, striking out nine and walking none.

    Kile had no regrets about leaving the game.

    "I'll hand the game over to Veres anytime," Kile said. "He's great. He'll get the job done nine out of 10 times. Womack hits a homer those things happen. It's just a fluke."

    Said La Russa: "I thought the best guy to get three outs in the ninth inning was Dave Veres."

    Kile is 0-2 in four starts since winning at Cincinnati on June 27.

    St. Louis had taken its ninth-inning lead when Edgar Renteria singled, took second on Dunston's sacrifice, advanced on Fernando Tatis' single off the glove of third baseman Craig Counsell and scored on Davis' fly.

    Notes

  • It was the third time Johnson faced Kile. Johnson beat Kile 9-2 on May 15, 1999, and Kile beat Johnson 8-4 at Colorado five days later.
  • St. Louis C Mike Matheny improved his major league-leading average to 53 percent (26-of-49) when he threw out Womack.
  • The Diamondbacks won consecutive games for the first time since July 6, when they completed a sweep at Houston.
  • Johnson is 22-3 in his last 33 regular-season starts. His only losses this season have been in shutouts.

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