ST. LOUIS — Larry Walker keeps helping the St. Louis Cardinals win.
Tony Womack scored the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk from Danny Graves in the eighth inning and Walker hit the next pitch for a grand slam in a 7-2 victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
Walker earned his first curtain call with the Cardinals after his ninth home run. He has three home runs with St. Louis and is batting .370 in nine games.
“I was pushed out of the dugout to get out there, not sure knowing what to do,” Walker said. “It was fun to go out there, it was fun to win, it was fun to hear the crowd get as loud as they were.”
The NL Central leaders are 13-2 against the Reds this season and will try to complete a three-game sweep today. St. Louis has won 11 of 13 and opened a 15-game lead over second-place Chicago, the Cardinals’ largest advantage since Aug. 10, 1968, a year they won the NL pennant.
“It’s only a matter of time for this ballclub to pull through, and tonight we pulled through again,” starter Matt Morris said. “Eventually, we’re going to do it.”
The Walker trade, which sent three minor leaguers to the Rockies, has further energized a team that was on a roll. He has batted second, an indication of the strength of the lineup.
“Hitting in the two hole, grand slams and home runs aren’t really what I’m trying to accomplish,” Walker said. “I’m just trying to stick with my George Brett theory of hitting the ball hard and if it goes far, great.”
Cincinnati led 2-1 in the eighth when Joe Valentine hit Scott Rolen with a pitch leading off, Edgar Renteria grounded out and Jim Edmonds greeted Graves (1-5) with an RBI single.
Edmonds took second on the throw home, Reggie Sanders was walked intentionally and pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson loaded the bases with a single.
After pinch-hitter John Mabry flied out, Womack walked on five pitches and Walker followed with his sixth slam to cap a six-inning; it matched the team’s high this year.
“I just wanted to throw a strike,” Graves said. “You’ve got to give yourself a chance, you’ve got to throw strikes, and you throw one right down the middle to Larry Walker, he’s going to do that every time.”
The Cardinals, who have 37 come-from-behind victories, had been 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position before Edmonds’ hit. Reds rookie Brandon Claussen limited them to one run and five hits in six innings.
“I was very impressed against a club like that,” Reds manager Dave Miley said.
Cal Eldred (3-0) gave up one hit and struck out two in a scoreless eighth.