ST. LOUIS (Ticker) --
hopes his injury problems finally are behind him.
The 31-year-old righthander allowed just one run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings as the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the
, 6-4, to complete a sweep of the three-game series.
"I was battling my mechanics in the first couple innings, trying to get a feel of the strike zone and trying to get through it," he said. "In the third or fourth inning, I felt comfortable to the point where I started throwing the ball, for the most part, where I wanted to."
Stephenson (1-0) sat out the entire 2001 season after suffering an elbow injury in the 2000 playoffs and missed three months last year with a pulled left hamstring and sore left shoulder, finishing 2002 just 2-5 with a 5.40 ERA.
But he looked sharp in his 2003 debut, blanking the Brewers until giving up a solo homer in the seventh to
, the final batter he faced. Stephenson walked two and struck out two.
"It has been a couple years, so to be able to come in here and be healthy, I was ready to start," Stephenson said. "Last year I had problems starting March 14."
"He gets the ball and he throws it with confidence," Cardinals third baseman
added. "He's not scared to use either side of the plate and he uses all of his pitches."
Stephenson's peformance came after a solid outing on Wednesday by
, who allowed just two hits in 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
"Everybody thinks there are question marks (with the pitching) but we do not," St. Louis manager
Tony La Russa
said. "Woody was terrific last night and Garrett did the job today."
In two outings this season, Eldred has allowed five runs while retiring just one batter for an ERA of 135.
"That is part of the game," Kline said of Eldred. "Guys have bad days. If you have one bad outing you get criticized the whole time. Cal is nervous; new team, new people, new stadium. Right now, he goes out and thinks the worst is going to happen."
(1-0) took the loss, yielding four runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. The Brewers remained winless under new manager
"Nothing works for us today," Yost said. "You go through these deals. That is why you play 162 games."
homered and drove in three runs for the Cardinals, who have started 3-0 for the second in four years.
After stranding seven runners in the first four innings, St. Louis finally broke through in the fifth, taking a 2-0 lead on Pujols' two-run homer.