St. Louis Cardinals defeat Boston Red Sox, 7-1

ST. LOUIS -- On the 222d day, the Cardinals finally won.

It was that long between Oct. 27, 2004, when they suffered the indignity of losing Game 4 of the World Series, and last night, when they beat the Red Sox, 7-1, in the first game of a three-game interleague series.

There had been a lot of mumbling about how they were swept, how they ''choked," how overmatched they were against Boston pitching that held them to a paltry .190 average and 12 runs in four games.

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ST. LOUIS -- A single jarring clap of thunder exploded above this city along the Mississippi just after noon yesterday, waking Edgar Renteria from his sleep.

Thus, the emotional spin cycle began with fear, to be followed later in the day by joy (at the sight of good friend Albert Pujols), closure (in the form of a hug with Tony La Russa), apprehension (as he approached the plate for his first at-bat), gratitude (as a wave of applause crested when he was introduced, wash...