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Ankiel hits three-run blast in outfield debut, Cards blank Pads

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ST. LOUIS -- In spring training 2005, Rick Ankiel launched his new career as a 26-year-old minor league outfielder. In his first game back in the major leagues, he launched one out of the ballpark.

Ankiel's three-run homer capped a storybook return, and Joel Pineiro worked seven scoreless innings in the St. Louis Cardinals' 5-0 victory over the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.

"Unbelievable," Ankiel said. "You almost can't put that into words."

The Cardinals took three of four from the NL West-contending Padres, spoiling the return of Chris Young in the finale. San Diego has scored one run in the last two games.

The day began with utilityman Scott Spiezio going on the restricted list for a substance problem that the Cardinals did not specify, allowing for the callup of Ankiel to take his spot on the roster.

Ankiel, who led the Pacific Coast League with 32 homers for Triple-A Memphis, launched a 2-1 curveball from Doug Brocail over the right-field wall in the seventh with an effortless swing that put the Cardinals ahead 5-0.

"I pitched the report," Brocail said. "I have no idea how he hit that ball. It's good to see the kid back, though.

"You know, he wasn't too bad of a pitcher."

The drive merited a standing ovation and a curtain call for the once-troubled left-hander, who walked away from a pitching career in frustration more than two years ago. Manager Tony La Russa was misty-eyed at his post-game news conference and compared Ankiel's return with Adam Wainwright striking out the Tigers' Brandon Inge for the final out in the World Series.

"Short of winning the World Series, it's the happiest I've seen our club," La Russa said. "I'm fighting my butt off to keep it together.

"Next to striking out Inge, that's the happiest I've been in this uniform."

Even the Padres were impressed with Ankiel's conversion.

"I guess Babe Ruth was the last," said manager Bud Black, referring to pitchers converting into power-hitting outfielders. "It's quite a show of athleticism and quite a show of being a baseball player.

"It's a great story."

The homer was the third of Ankiel's career and the first since April 26, 2000, off Steve Woodard of the Brewers.

Young (9-4) was activated from the 15-day disabled list for a strained left side muscle before the start. He was fairly dominant until the Cardinals knocked him out in a four-run seventh when the first three runners reached base.

In six-plus innings, Young allowed four runs on three hits with five strikeouts and five walks, hiking his major league-leading ERA 20 points to 2.02.

Young had been 5-0 with a 1.02 ERA in his previous 11 starts since his last loss, also against the Cardinals on May 12 when he allowed five runs -- one earned -- in 5 1/3 innings of a 5-0 loss.

"I was a little rusty, but no problem," Young said. "I didn't feel like I pitched that poorly. It wasn't my best, it wasn't my worst."

St. Louis didn't have a runner in scoring position until a two-out rally in the fourth capped by Yadier Molina's RBI single. Scott Rolen singled and Chris Duncan walked before Molina's hit.

The Cardinals chased Young with none out in the seventh after two walks and a wild pitch on ball four to pinch hitter So Taguchi that allowed in a run.

Pineiro, acquired from the Red Sox for a minor league player to be named, made his second start for his new team and retired the side in order three of his seven innings. He struck out four and walked none.

Pineiro allowed four runs in five innings in his first start on Saturday, and said Molina, his catcher, gave him some advice before his home debut.

"He told me from the beginning we were going to go out and have some fun, and we did that," Pineiro said. "All around, I think it was a great win."

La Russa batted the pitcher eighth for the sixth straight game in an effort to spark the World Series champions, who entered at 52-59. That ploy backfired in the fourth when Pineiro, batting after Molina's RBI single, struck out with two men on for the third out in the fourth.

Notes

  • In a statistical oddity, the Cardinals took three of four despite scoring in only four innings.
  • Adam Kennedy was hitless in four at-bats in the ninth spot for the Cardinals and is 2-for-22 against the Padres.
  • Padres closer Trevor Hoffman was not used in the four-game series, remaining one save shy of a 12th career 30-save season that would extend his own record.
  • Padres OF Scott Hairston strained his left side muscle while getting thrown out going for a double in the sixth, and is likely to land on the DL.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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St. Louis' new outfielder Rick Ankiel keeps an eye on his three-run home run, his first since April 2000.  (AP)
St. Louis' new outfielder Rick Ankiel keeps an eye on his three-run home run, his first since April 2000. (AP)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

J. Pineiro
IP 7.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 0
K 4
St. Louis

R. Ankiel
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
 
San Diego Padres
Scott Hairston, LF3020000 .240
    Terrmel Sledge, LF1000000 .213
Geoff Blum, SS4000001 .266
Mike Cameron, CF2000110 .252
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B4010002 .266
Morgan Ensberg, 3B3000011 .231
    Doug Brocail, P0000000 .500
   a- Michael Barrett, PH1000001 .247
Rob Mackowiak, RF3010011 .278
Josh Bard, C3000001 .272
Marcus Giles, 2B3000010 .225
Chris Young, P2000010 .063
    Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B1000000 .229
Totals3004015  
a-grounded out for Brocail in the 9th
Batting
2B - Scott Hairston (14, Pineiro), Adrian Gonzalez (34, Pineiro), Rob Mackowiak (13, Pineiro)
Team LOB - 5
San Diego Padres
Chris Young (L,9-4) 6344550 2.02
Doug Brocail 2411001 3.96
WP - Chris Young (4)
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Young 105-58, Doug Brocail 33-23
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Young 4-9, Doug Brocail 4-2
Batters Faced - Chris Young 26, Doug Brocail 10
St. Louis Cardinals
David Eckstein, SS3000110 .286
Rick Ankiel, RF4113021 .250
Albert Pujols, 1B4010001 .315
Jim Edmonds, CF4000002 .243
Scott Rolen, 3B4110000 .264
Chris Duncan, LF1100200 .283
    Troy Percival, P0000000 .000
   a- Ryan Ludwick, PH1010000 .251
    Tyler Johnson, P0000000 .000
Yadier Molina, C3031100 .264
Joel Pineiro, P2000023 .000
   b- So Taguchi, PH-LF1100101 .302
Adam Kennedy, 2B4100004 .217
Totals3157455  
a-singled for Percival in the 8th
b-walked (wild pitch) for Pineiro in the 7th
Batting
HR - Rick Ankiel (1, Brocail)
RBI - Rick Ankiel 3 (3), Yadier Molina (19)
2-OUT RBI - Rick Ankiel 3 (3), Yadier Molina (9)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Chris Duncan 1
St. Louis Cardinals
Joel Pineiro (W,2-2) 7400040 4.50
Troy Percival 1000010 2.50
Tyler Johnson 1000100 4.10
HBP - Cameron (by Joel Pineiro)
Pitches-Strikes - Joel Pineiro 90-60, Troy Percival 12-9, Tyler Johnson 16-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joel Pineiro 6-10, Troy Percival 2-0, Tyler Johnson 1-2
Batters Faced - Joel Pineiro 25, Troy Percival 3, Tyler Johnson 4
Game Information
Attendance - 42848
Game Time - 2:24
Temperature - 93
Umpires - Home - Adam Dowdy, First Base - Field Culbreth, Second Base - Paul Schrieber, Third Base - Tim McClelland