ST. LOUIS — Midway through the season, Jeff Suppan and the St. Louis Cardinals are peaking.
Suppan pitched four-hit ball into the eighth and Jim Edmonds threw out a runner at the plate in the fourth, helping the Cardinals beat the Seattle Mariners 2-1 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.
“I can’t take anything away from him or the Cardinals,” Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. “If they aren’t the best team in the National League, I don’t know who is.”
The NL Central-leading Cardinals have swept five three-game series, including two of the past three, and this one came after they lost three in a row at Pittsburgh. They finished 11-1 in interleague play, the best in the majors in the eight years that the AL and NL have been playing, edging a 16-2 record by the Oakland A’s in 2002.
Manager Tony La Russa credited preparation by pitching coach Dave Duncan and bullpen coach Marty Mason.
“It requires a lot of extra work for just three games,” La Russa said. “We had good information for our pitchers and catchers and they executed.”
Randy Winn had an RBI double in the eighth off Ray King for the Mariners, who have been swept five times and have lost 10 of 13. Seattle was outscored 21-4 in the series.
Scott Rolen and Reggie Sanders drove in a run apiece in a two-run sixth against Joel Pineiro (4-9) that snapped a scoreless tie. Rolen leads the majors with 78 RBIs.
Edmonds, who returned to center field Saturday after a week-long absence due to a groin injury, made the defensive play of the game to end the fourth. He charged the ball on Jolbert Cabrera’s two-out single and threw to the plate on the fly, catching Bret Boone trying to score from second by about two steps.
“I’ve said it before, there isn’t anybody in either league that throws with more strength and accuracy than Jim Edmonds,” La Russa said. “He throws a beautiful ball, and then you’ve got one of the toughest guys behind the plate.”
Catcher Mike Matheny absorbed a collision from Boone, hanging on to the ball.
Suppan (7-5) departed after walking pinch-hitter Dave Hansen with one out in the eighth. After King got an out, Winn hit a drive to the gap, which left fielder So Taguchi, a defensive replacement in the seventh, got his glove on but could not hold on to the ball.
Suppan matched a season high with seven strikeouts and walked two. In his past two starts, Suppan has given up two runs on six hits in 15 1-3 innings.
“You’ve got to go out there and keep your team in the game,” he said. “It’s a matter of trying to throw a zero up there and keeping guys off base, and building on it from start to start.”
Jason Isringhausen got the last four outs for his 18th save in 22 chances and his first in eight days.