for this game

Cameron leads first-place Padres over sinking Cardinals

Sep 27, 2006 - 3:38 AM ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- With one swing, Mike Cameron kept the San Diego Padres in the playoff race and sunk the fading St. Louis Cardinals.

Cameron hit a two-run, go-ahead double and Josh Bard knocked in two runs as the Padres used a four-run seventh to post a 7-5 comeback win over the Cardinals.

With its sixth straight win, San Diego (85-72) remained two games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers (83-74) in the National League West Division with only five games remaining.

"A great win," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "We got down but they battled hard tonight, they just kept coming back. It's just a great win for us."

St. Louis (80-76) dropped its seventh straight contest and holds a tenuous 1 1/2-game lead over the red-hot Houston Astros (79-78) in the NL Central. The Cardinals were swept by the Astros in a four-game series last weekend to tighten the race.

"We're not OK because we can't make enough happen to win a game," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "But we're still alive, we've been through tough times before, you just keep pushing and pushing. One day you break through."

With runners on second and third and two outs in the seventh, Cameron smacked an 0-2 pitch for a two-run double off Chris Carpenter (15-8) to give the Padres a 6-5 lead. He also had a sacrifice fly in the fourth to snap a 1-1 tie.

"I made a bad pitch," Carpenter said. "I was trying to throw a cutter off the plate, down and away, I left it up and (Cameron) hit it into right. I didn't make a good pitch when I had to."

"(Carpenter) got one up in the zone, I really just tried to foul it off," said Cameron, who is hitting .367 (11-for-30) with 12 RBI in his last nine games. "I thought it was going to keep running away from me but I was able to get enough bat on it and put it in play. It turns out it was a very big hit at that particular time."

With the Padres trailing, 5-2, in the seventh, Bard smacked a two-run double to close the deficit to one run. The San Diego catcher had three hits.

Padres starter Woody Williams (11-5) allowed five runs - three earned - and seven hits in six innings, walking four and striking out two.

"I feel lucky to be the winning pitcher tonight," said Williams, who posted his fourth straight win. "I didn't think I pitched well enough to deserve that, but on the other hand, sometimes you pitch very well and get the loss."

Cla Meredith pitched the seventh, Scott Linebrink retired Albert Pujols, who represented the tying run, in the eighth and Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his 44th save of the season and 480th of his career.

San Diego right fielder Brian Giles left the game after doubling in the seventh. Giles hit a soft spot as he was rounding second base and sprained his right ankle. In the third inning, Giles also fouled a ball off his right knee.

"(Brian Giles) has got a right ankle sprain and a right knee contusion," Bochy said. "He fouled that ball off his knee, he's pretty banged up. He's questionable for tomorrow (Wednesday)."

Carpenter, last year's Cy Young Award winner, yielded six runs and a season-high 12 hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking two.

"(Carpenter) worked hard," La Russa said. "A couple times he made a mistake, like the pitch to Cameron. He tried to put him away and he missed. A couple of real big two-out hits with two strikes, but overall he did what he always does, he's just out there working as hard as he can."

Ronnie Belliard hit two homers for the Cardinals.

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