|St. Louis (69-68) «||2||3||0||2||5||4||0||0||x||16||22||0|
ST. LOUIS -- Rick Ankiel isn't just hitting, he's turning into a force.
"Marvel is a good word," manager Tony La Russa said. "It's kind of amazing, isn't it? Clutch, too."
Ankiel hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-2 lead against Bryan Bullington (0-1), who made his first major league start five years after he was the No. 1 overall pick in the amateur draft. Ankiel made it 11-3 with a two-run drive in the fifth against John Grabow and added a two-run double in the sixth off Dave Davidson, also making his big league debut.
Brought up Aug. 9 in his first major league appearance since he pitched for the Cardinals in 2004, Ankiel is batting .358 with nine home runs and 29 RBI in 23 games. He also went deep twice against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 11.
"It feels as good as it can feel," Ankiel said. "The thing to remember when you get up there with runners on base is that the pitcher is the one that's in trouble."
He made his second start in center field, hauling in Steve Pearce's drive at the wall in the third. He barely missed a diving catch on pinch-hitter Matt Kata's slicing drive that fell for a double in the fourth, getting a round of applause for the effort, in addition to making a pair of curtain calls after his home runs.
"It was a good day, that's for sure," Ankiel said. "It's been unbelievable."
St. Louis (69-68) is one game behind NL Central co-leaders Chicago and Milwaukee, scoring its most runs since Aug. 29, 2001, against San Diego. The Cardinals had 22 hits, their highest total since April 27, 2003, at Florida.
"They took some of our young kids and hit them hard -- period," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "Flat pitches in the middle of the plate get hit often, and hard."
The Cardinals are 17-9 since the Ankiel callup.
"It seems like we've been winning since I've been here," Ankiel said. "Hopefully we can continue."
Mike Maroth, back from a bout of elbow tendinitis, allowed two runs, six hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings, throwing 54 pitches in his first appearance since Aug. 4. On Wednesday, Mark Mulder pitched for the first time in over a year and gave up six runs over four innings in an 8-2 loss.
"It was a matter of just not being aggressive enough early in the count," Maroth said. "I made a lot of pitches that would have been good with two strikes, or when I was ahead in the count but early in the count you've got to make them put it in play.
Bullington gave up five runs and seven hits over three innings in his second big league outing. He received a $4 million bonus when he signed with the Pirates out of Ball State, then went 34-17 in three minor league seasons, his climb through the minors slowed by a shoulder injury that sidelined him for 2006.
He also singled in his first career plate appearance in the second and scored his first run later in the inning.
"My fastball was a little flat and my slider was a little loopy at times," said Bullington, who made one relief appearance for Pittsburgh in September 2005. "They took advantage of it, that's for sure."
Davidson worked the sixth and allowed four runs -- three earned -- and four hits.
Maroth escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first, getting Pearce on a called third strike. Bautista and Freddy Sanchez hit back-to-back RBI singles in the second tie it at 2.
|Rick Ankiel hits the first of his two HRs of the day and now has nine dingers and 29 RBI in 23 games. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Nate McLouth, CF-LF||5||1||1||0||0||0||2||.246|
|Jose Bautista, 3B||4||0||2||2||0||0||0||.261|
|Dave Davidson, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Juan Perez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Ronny Paulino, PH||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.256|
|Shane Youman, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.083|
|Freddy Sanchez, 2B||3||0||2||1||0||0||1||.316|
|b- Cesar Izturis, PH-3B||2||0||0||0||0||0||2||.254|
|Josh Phelps, 1B||2||0||1||0||2||1||1||.319|
|Jason Bay, LF||2||0||0||0||1||1||3||.253|
|c- Nyjer Morgan, PH-CF||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.250|
|Steve Pearce, RF||4||0||0||0||0||2||4||.227|
|Jack Wilson, SS||4||1||2||0||0||0||0||.284|
|Carlos Maldonado, C||4||0||1||1||0||1||1||.083|
|Bryan Bullington, P||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||1.000|
|d- Matt Kata, PH||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.227|
|John Van Benschoten, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|John Grabow, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|e- Jose Castillo, PH-3B^2B||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.239|
|a-walked for J. Perez in the 8th|
|b-flied out for F. Sanchez in the 7th|
|c-hit into fielder's choice for Bay in the 7th|
|d-doubled for Bullington in the 4th|
|e-grounded out for Grabow in the 6th|
|2B - Jack Wilson (25, An. Reyes), Carlos Maldonado (1, An. Reyes), Matt Kata (8, Percival)|
|RBI - Jose Bautista 2 (58), Freddy Sanchez (72), Carlos Maldonado (2)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jose Bautista (21), Freddy Sanchez (28)|
|Team LOB - 12|
|DP - F. Sanchez-J. Wilson-Phelps, J. Wilson-F. Sanchez-Phelps|
|E - Jose Castillo (9, Misplayed grounder)|
|Bryan Bullington (L,0-1)||3||7||5||5||2||1||1||15.00|
|John Van Benschoten||1.1||6||5||5||2||1||0||10.86|
|IBB - Duncan by John Van Benschoten|
|HBP - Ludwick (by Dave Davidson)|
|WP - John Van Benschoten (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Bryan Bullington 63-41, John Van Benschoten 41-24, John Grabow 26-17, Dave Davidson 32-20, Juan Perez 8-7, Shane Youman 11-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Bryan Bullington 7-0, John Van Benschoten 1-1, John Grabow 1-0, Dave Davidson 4-0, Juan Perez 1-1, Shane Youman 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Bryan Bullington 17, John Van Benschoten 11, John Grabow 7, Dave Davidson 9, Juan Perez 3, Shane Youman 3|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|David Eckstein, SS||4||2||3||1||0||0||1||.301|
|Russell Branyan, 3B||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.199|
|Rick Ankiel, CF||4||4||3||7||1||0||1||.358|
|Anthony Reyes, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.080|
|Albert Pujols, 1B||5||2||2||1||1||0||1||.316|
|Jim Edmonds, 1B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.245|
|Ryan Ludwick, RF||5||2||2||1||0||0||1||.250|
|Chris Duncan, LF||2||0||1||1||1||0||0||.262|
|Russ Springer, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Miguel Cairo, PH||1||0||1||1||0||0||0||.239|
|Randy Flores, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- So Taguchi, PH-CF||2||0||1||1||0||0||0||.296|
|Yadier Molina, C||4||0||2||1||0||0||1||.280|
|Kelly Stinnett, C||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.174|
|Aaron Miles, 2B||5||1||3||1||0||0||2||.304|
|Mike Maroth, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.214|
|Kelvin Jimenez, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Brian Barden, PH||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||.077|
|Troy Percival, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.000|
|Skip Schumaker, LF||3||1||1||0||0||1||5||.315|
|Brendan Ryan, 3B-SS||5||3||3||0||0||1||2||.341|
|a-singled for Springer in the 5th|
|b-singled for Flores in the 6th|
|c-walked for Jimenez in the 4th|
|2B - David Eckstein (16, Davidson), Rick Ankiel (6, Davidson), Albert Pujols (27, Grabow)|
|HR - Rick Ankiel 2 (9, Bullington, Grabow)|
|SH - David Eckstein (6)|
|RBI - David Eckstein (26), Rick Ankiel 7 (29), Albert Pujols (85), Ryan Ludwick (39), Chris Duncan (70), Miguel Cairo (11), So Taguchi (22), Yadier Molina (36), Aaron Miles (26)|
|2-OUT RBI - Chris Duncan (27), Miguel Cairo (8), Yadier Molina (15)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Kelvin Jimenez (W,2-0)||0.1||0||0||0||0||1||0||8.10|
|Troy Percival (H,2)||2||2||1||1||0||1||0||2.48|
|HBP - Phelps (by Anthony Reyes)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Mike Maroth 54-29, Kelvin Jimenez 7-4, Troy Percival 24-16, Russ Springer 15-10, Randy Flores 16-10, Anthony Reyes 45-24|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mike Maroth 1-3, Troy Percival 2-3, Russ Springer 1-1, Randy Flores 1-2, Anthony Reyes 2-3|
|Batters Faced - Mike Maroth 13, Kelvin Jimenez 1, Troy Percival 8, Russ Springer 4, Randy Flores 3, Anthony Reyes 11|
|Attendance - 42330|
|Game Time - 3:06|
|Temperature - 75|
|Umpires - Home - Brian Runge, First Base - Mike Winters, Second Base - Bruce Froemming, Third Base - Mark Wegner|