Cardinals 9, Orioles 6

Playing in a ballpark known as a haven for hitters, Lance

Berkman hit a couple of drives that would have cleared the wall in

just about any stadium in the country.

Berkman had his 29th career two-homer game, Jon Jay hit a

three-run shot, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Baltimore

Orioles 9-6 on Thursday night to complete a three-game sweep.

The Cardinals never trailed in the series and outscored

Baltimore 20-9. In the finale, St. Louis built an 8-0 lead in the

fourth inning and coasted to its fourth win in nine games since

slugger Albert Pujols went on the disabled list with a fractured

wrist.

Berkman hit a two-run drive in the second inning measured at 422

feet and led off the seventh with a clout that traveled an

estimated 444 feet.

”It just feels good,” he said with a laugh. ”A lot of times,

even when you hit a home run, you don’t quite catch all of it. But

I got most of both of those balls.”

The last one easily cleared the 25-foot scoreboard in right

field and scattered the crowd on Eutaw Street.

It was his fourth multihomer game of the season, and marked the

second time in 2011 that he homered from both sides of the

plate.

”I’m better right-handed than I’ve been in a couple of years,”

Berkman said, ”I don’t know if there’s anything more to it than

that.”

With Berkman leading the way, the Cardinals righted themselves

after being swept at home by Toronto.

”We’ve got some hot bats right now,” manager Tony La Russa

said. ”Lance had a big game. This game over here is so tough

because you have the American League rules and the ballpark. But we

were swinging tonight.”

The Cardinals did most of their damage against Brian Matusz

(1-4), who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game. Matusz

yielded a career-high eight runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings,

lost his fourth straight start and departed with an 8.77 ERA.

The left-hander started six games since coming off the disabled

list with a rib injury and still hasn’t regained the velocity he

displayed in 2010. His fastball reached 90 mph at least once in

this outing, but most of the time it was in the 86-88 range.

”I am not getting it done up here. It’s not fair for the team,

every fifth day I go out there and make starts like this,” Matusz

said.

Nolan Reimold homered and had four RBIs and Mark Reynolds also

connected for the Orioles, who fell a season-worst eight games

under .500 (35-43).

Baltimore’s Nick Markakis extended his career-high hitting

streak to 19 games and Derrek Lee got his 1,900th career hit, a

single in the second inning. He’s the 315th player to accomplish

the feat, according to the Orioles.

Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia (7-3) gave up five runs, 10 hits

and a walk in 5 1-3 innings. It was only the second time in 17

starts this season that the left-hander allowed more than three

earned runs.

”I made a couple of mistakes and I paid for it,” Garcia said.

”It was great that we scored some runs so that made it easier for

me, because they have a good lineup.”

Fernando Salas worked the ninth to earn his 13th save and

conclude the Cardinals’ first sweep on the road this season.

For a third straight game, St. Louis took the lead for good in

the second inning. David Freese singled, took second on a walk to

Yadier Molina and scored on a single by Tony Cruz. Skip Schumaker

followed with a sacrifice fly.

The Cardinals made it 4-0 in the third when Matt Holliday

doubled and Berkman drove a 1-2 pitch into the seats in left.

In the fourth, Ryan Theriot singled in a run and Jay hit his

sixth homer with two aboard to chase Matusz, who was booed by many

in the crowd of 28,340.

The next time Matusz throws in a game, it will be at the

Triple-A level.

”I think he needs to get the ball every fifth day and continue

to work on some things that he’s aware of,” Orioles manager Buck

Showalter said. ”It’s a tough time for him. He’s a young man who

hasn’t had much failure pitching in his career, but just about

everybody does at some point. It’s how you handle it.”

Reimold hit a three-run homer in the fourth and Reynolds ended

Garcia’s night with a two-run drive in the sixth.

Berkman made it 9-5 with his 20th home run of the season, off

Alfredo Simon, and Reimold singled in a run in the eighth.

NOTES: The Cardinals’ last previous sweep of an AL East opponent

on the road came at Tampa Bay in 2005. St. Louis closes interleague

play with a three-game series at the Rays this weekend. …

Baltimore designated hitters have only one home run in the last 27

games … Theriot went 2 for 5, his team-high 26th multihit game.

… Garcia had only one perfect inning, but was backed by three

double plays.