Long Ball Lifts Cardinals

Will Clark is definitely up for a pennant race.

Clark hit a home run in his first start for St. Louis and Jim Edmonds homered twice and drove in five runs as the Cardinals beat the Montreal Expos 10-7 Wednesday night.

Clark, acquired from Baltimore on Monday to play first base in Mark McGwire's absence, went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.

"There's a lot more atmosphere here, a lot more camaraderie pulling for each other on the bench, and stuff like that," Clark said. "You can definitely sense that sitting on the bench."

Clark, who doubled in his first Cardinals at-bat Tuesday night, hit his first NL home run in seven years leading off the second inning. He reached safely in each of his first five plate appearances for St. Louis before popping up in the ninth.

The NL Central-leading Cardinals are 9-14 since McGwire currently on the 15-day disabled list with right knee tendinitis has been out of the lineup.

St. Louis moved five games ahead of second-place Cincinnati, which lost 2-1 in New York.

"I went to the playoffs in '96 and '98, so I've been in a few races," Clark said. "It's fun to be back in one. We got a chance to pick up a game tonight, and we did."

Edmonds, who returned to the lineup after missing two games because of a sore right hip, matched his career high for RBIs in a game.

Edmonds hit a three-run homer in the third off Mike Johnson (5-6). He hit his 32nd homer a two-run shot in the fifth for his 11th career two-homer game, and third this season.

"This is a great game for us to win," Edmonds said. "And we've got to battle the next three games against Atlanta, and then we've got Florida. Even though you go into a place where they've got a losing record, it seems like they're always ready to play."

Pat Hentgen (10-8) gave up five hits, including Geoff Blum's solo homer in the seventh, in seven innings. He reached 10 wins for the eighth straight season.

"I've been fortunate to play for some good clubs that have scored a lot of runs for me," Hentgen said. "They've done a nice job of that for me this year and the bullpen's done a good job, too. That's what it takes to win games as a starting pitcher. You've got to have full support from your club, and I've had that."

Montreal's Lee Stevens hit a three-run homer in the eighth off left-hander Jason Christiansen, who was making his Cardinals debut.

Hentgen allowed just one hit through the first four innings before the Expos, trailing 7-1, loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth. Jose Vidro followed with a drive that right fielder J.D. Drew ran down, making a diving catch to end the inning.

"That was probably the game-saver, right there," Clark said.

Drew drove in the Cardinals' 10th run with an RBI single in the eighth. Stevens hit his 20th homer in the bottom half.

"We managed to score seven, but that's not the essence of the game," Expos manager Felipe Alou said. "It could have been a wider score."

Notes

  • Hentgen tied Boston's Pedro Martinez and Baltimore's Mike Mussina, who also have eight consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins. Atlanta's Greg Maddux is tops among active pitchers with 13 straight seasons, followed by teammate Tom Glavine (12).
  • Edmonds had his third career five-RBI game.
  • Cardinals OF Ray Lankford did not play. He bruised his right knee while making a diving catch Tuesday night.
  • The Expos are 17-33 since June 5, when they were a season-high eight games over .500 for the second time this season.

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