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Ankiel sparks five-run ninth to help NL-best Cards defeat Nationals

CBSSports.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- With the go-ahead run on base after Washington's 10th walk of the night, Rick Ankiel was hoping to get something hittable up and over the plate.

The way Nationals pitchers had trouble locating, it wasn't an unreasonable expectation.

Ankiel hit a tiebreaking RBI double in St. Louis' five-run ninth inning and the Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 9-4 on Thursday night for their eighth victory in 10 games.

"Last year, if we lost a lead late, it seemed like our bats were dead and we just didn't come around," Ankiel said. "It's early, but as early as it is, it seems like the game is never over with this team. We've always got a chance to come back."

Albert Pujols hit his eighth home run for St. Louis in the first inning, belting a two-run shot to finish an at-bat that featured two of Daniel Cabrera's four wild pitches.

By the time the game ended, the Nationals had issued 11 walks, hit two batters and committed a balk.

"There were some strange things that happened, but when you come out here and play day-in and day-out, there's always going to be some weird things happening," Ankiel said. "We're just happy we came out on top."

What Ankiel saw as odd was just more of the same to Washington manager Manny Acta.

"They just walked themselves into trouble. They walked themselves into losing the ballgame. Walks allowed them to tie. Walks allowed them to take a lead. I mean, they didn't hit the ball hard in the last inning and they ended up scoring five runs. ... It's unacceptable," Acta said.

Acta, who overhauled his bullpen two weeks ago, isn't sure how to fix the wildness.

"Walking guys after 0-2 counts, walking guys at the bottom of the order -- I don't know why," Acta said. "You shouldn't be afraid. ... You're pitching for a last-place team in a half-empty stadium. What can you be intimidated [by] right now?"

Chris Perez (1-1) got the last two outs of the eighth inning for the victory.

Ryan Zimmerman hit a home run, extending his hitting streak to a Nationals-record 19 games. Still, the Nationals lost for the seventh time in 10 games.

Chris Duncan sparked the decisive rally with a one-out walk off Julian Tavarez (0-2). Ankiel then sliced a double into the left-field corner and the ball bounced away from Adam Dunn as Duncan scored.

Joe Thurston walked and Jason LaRue was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Third baseman Zimmerman couldn't handle Tyler Greene's dribbler up the line, allowing Ankiel to score on Greene's first major league hit, and Thurston was safe when catcher Jesus Flores dropped shortstop Cristian Guzman's throw home.

"Every one of their relievers made good pitches. Then the fly ball down the line -- that's a tough loss for Tavarez, a fly ball down the left-field line and a swinging bunt," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "That's the breaks of the game."

Joel Hanrahan replaced Tavarez and balked home LaRue for an 8-4 lead before Greene stole third and scored on pinch-hitter Brian Barden's sacrifice fly.

Cabrera struggled with his control in the first and the Cardinals took advantage. Colby Rasmus drew a one-out walk and two wild pitches -- one behind Pujols' back -- sent him to third before Pujols slammed a 3-1 pitch into the St. Louis bullpen.

Washington tied it in the bottom half on Zimmerman's two-run shot.

Cabrera worked six innings, giving up three runs and four hits with five walks. Mitchell Boggs allowed four runs and six hits over six innings for St. Louis. He struck out nine and walked two.

Notes

  • LF Skip Schumaker extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
  • St. Louis placed INF Brendan Ryan on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring and recalled Greene from Triple-A Memphis. Greene made his major league debut.
  • Cabrera, who was 0-for-21 with 19 strikeouts in his career, reached first in the fifth when he was grazed on the jersey by a Boggs pitch.
  • Plate umpire Jim Reynolds was briefly dazed when he was struck in the head by a warmup pitch from St. Louis' Blaine Boyer before the seventh, but stayed in the game.
 
Copyright 2015 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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Rick Ankiel turns on a Julian Tavarez pitch, driving in the go-ahead run in the ninth.  (AP)
Rick Ankiel turns on a Julian Tavarez pitch, driving in the go-ahead run in the ninth. (AP)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

A. Pujols
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Washington

R. Zimmerman
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 

Related Video

St. Louis Cardinals
Skip Schumaker, 2B-LF5120101 .300
Colby Rasmus, RF1101100 .254
   a- Ryan Ludwick, PH-RF2100103 .297
Albert Pujols, 1B4122100 .337
Chris Duncan, LF2110301 .304
    P.J. Walters, P0000000 .000
Rick Ankiel, CF3122101 .264
Joe Thurston, 3B-2B4100107 .278
Jason LaRue, C3100100 .455
Tyler Greene, SS5111011 .200
Mitchell Boggs, P3000011 .000
    Blaine Boyer, P0000000 .000
   b- Khalil Greene, PH0000100 .219
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
    Chris Perez, P0000000 .000
   c- Brian Barden, PH-3B0001000 .385
Totals32987112  
a-walked for Rasmus in the 7th
b-walked for Boyer in the 8th
c-hit a sacrifice fly for Perez in the 9th
Batting
2B - Skip Schumaker (5, Cabrera), Rick Ankiel (6, Tavarez)
HR - Albert Pujols (8, Cabrera)
SF - Colby Rasmus (1), Rick Ankiel (1), Brian Barden (1)
RBI - Colby Rasmus (4), Albert Pujols 2 (28), Rick Ankiel 2 (11), Tyler Greene (1), Brian Barden (7)
SB - Albert Pujols (4, 2nd base off Cabrera/Flores), Tyler Greene (1, 3rd base off Hanrahan/Flores)
Team LOB - 11
St. Louis Cardinals
Mitchell Boggs 6644291 3.29
Blaine Boyer 1000010 18.00
Trever Miller 0.1000010 5.40
Chris Perez (W,1-1) 0.2000110 2.57
P.J. Walters 1000100 8.68
HBP - Cabrera (by Mitchell Boggs), Kearns (by Mitchell Boggs)
Pitches-Strikes - Mitchell Boggs 100-60, Blaine Boyer 11-9, Trever Miller 4-3, Chris Perez 9-5, P.J. Walters 18-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mitchell Boggs 6-2, Blaine Boyer 2-0, Chris Perez 1-0, P.J. Walters 1-2
Batters Faced - Mitchell Boggs 27, Blaine Boyer 3, Trever Miller 1, Chris Perez 3, P.J. Walters 4
Washington Nationals
Cristian Guzman, SS5000012 .419
Nick Johnson, 1B5120001 .338
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B4112022 .289
Adam Dunn, LF3000130 .310
Elijah Dukes, CF3000121 .279
Austin Kearns, RF2100100 .231
Jesus Flores, C4121022 .281
Anderson Hernandez, 2B3011111 .306
Daniel Cabrera, P1000011 .000
   a- Willie Harris, PH1000001 .273
    Michael Hinckley, P0000000 .000
    Logan Kensing, P0000000 .000
    Kip Wells, P0000000 .000
    Julian Tavarez, P0000000 .000
    Joel Hanrahan, P0000000 .000
   b- Alex Cintron, PH1000001 .000
Totals32464412  
a-grounded out for Cabrera in the 6th
b-popped out for Hanrahan in the 9th
Batting
2B - Anderson Hernandez (5, Boggs)
3B - Jesus Flores (1, Boggs)
HR - Ryan Zimmerman (5, Boggs)
RBI - Ryan Zimmerman 2 (16), Jesus Flores (11), Anderson Hernandez (5)
2-OUT RBI - Jesus Flores (3), Anderson Hernandez (5)
CS - Elijah Dukes (4, 2nd base by Boggs/LaRue)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
PB - Jesus Flores (2)
E - Jesus Flores (1, Missed catch of throw)
Washington Nationals
Daniel Cabrera 6433521 4.44
Michael Hinckley (H,4) 0.1011100 2.79
Logan Kensing (BS,1) 0.2100100 9.00
Kip Wells 1000200 1.42
Julian Tavarez (L,0-2) 0.1252200 4.50
Joel Hanrahan 0.2100000 8.00
HBP - LaRue (by Julian Tavarez)
WP - Daniel Cabrera 4 (7)
Pitches-Strikes - Daniel Cabrera 93-51, Michael Hinckley 8-4, Logan Kensing 13-5, Kip Wells 24-12, Julian Tavarez 23-13, Joel Hanrahan 12-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Daniel Cabrera 7-9, Michael Hinckley 1-0, Kip Wells 3-0, Julian Tavarez 1-0
Batters Faced - Daniel Cabrera 27, Michael Hinckley 2, Logan Kensing 4, Kip Wells 5, Julian Tavarez 6, Joel Hanrahan 3
Game Information
Attendance - 18007
Game Time - 3:18
Temperature - 63
Umpires - Home - Jim Reynolds, First Base - Tim Welke, Second Base - Angel Hernandez, Third Base - Bill Welke