Once again, Todd Stottlemyre carried the load for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Stottlemyre pitched eight strong innings and Brian Jordan drove in two runs Monday night as the Cardinals beat the Detroit Tigers 4-1 for their season-high fifth straight victory.
Stottlemyre (8-5), who has averaged eight innings in his last nine starts, allowed seven hits, struck out seven and walked none on a muggy, 88-degree night in the first meeting between the teams since the 1968 World Series.
"All of our young players, pitchers included, should watch this guy," Tigers manager Buddy Bell said. "If there's a better competitor out there, I don't know who it is."
Stottlemyre (8-5) didn't pitch last September because he was worn out. He worked to improve his strength in the offseason and it's paid off with two complete games and a 2.94 ERA in 125 1-3 innings.
"When you're a starting pitcher and you're not pitching the last month of the season and they say your arm is tired, you have a lot of motivation going into the winter to make sure that doesn't happen again," Stottlemyre said. "I got on a little bit different program, I worked hard at it and it's paying off."
Stottlemyre held the Tigers scoreless until Paul Bako led off the seventh with a homer. No other Detroit player got past second base.
Stottlemyre was lifted after Luis Gonzalez singled to open the ninth. Rick Croushore, a fill-in lately when Jeff Brantley can't pitch, got the last three outs for his third save.
The Cardinals made it seven victories in eight games despite another quiet game from Mark McGwire, who went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. McGwire, who leads the majors with 33 homers, hasn't hit one in his last 17 at-bats.
"They have some real good hitters besides McGwire," Florie said. "If you get him out, it's no walk in the park with the next guy coming up over there."
The next guy is Jordan, who had an RBI single in the third and beat out a potential double-play ball for a run-scoring groundout in the fifth. He's 10-for-16 with seven RBIs in his last four games, and leads the National League with a .352 average.
"I'm swinging at a lot of bad pitches and just putting them in play," Jordan said. "I'm still learning this game and I have nowhere to go but up."
Ray Lankford led off the St. Louis second with a homer off Bryce Florie (5-3).
The Cardinals made it 2-0 in the third on Jordan's two-out RBI single, and got another run in the fifth when Delino DeShields reached on an infield hit, McGwire singled him to third and Jordan beat out the attempted double-play relay on a grounder to short.
The Cardinals ended reliever Doug Bochtler's string of 19 2-3 innings without allowing an earned run in the sixth when JohMabry hit a leadoff double and scored on DeShields' two-hit single off Sean Runyan.
Florie lasted 4 1-3 innings and gave up three runs on five hits and four walks. But Bell was more upset because Florie was late covering first base on DeShields' infield hit in the fifth.
"He messed up a play that you're supposed to learn how to do in Little League," Bell said. "You just can't do that stuff in the big leagues."
Notes: Cardinals left-hander Kent Mercker, out since June 13 with nerve damage in his left leg, might be used in relief in the upcoming interleague series in Cleveland. Mercker has been wearing a special brace. ... The Cardinals have the longest current winning streak in the majors. ... St. Louis is averaging 44,817 for the first four games of a five-game homestand, including 40,172 Monday night. ... Stottlemyre is 9-4 lifetime against the Tigers. ... Before the game, the Cardinals announced interview restrictions on reporters wishing to talk to McGwire, who has complained about the media attention he's getting in his bid to break Roger Maris' home run record.
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