Published: Friday, September 7, 2007
Cardinals rout Pirates behind Ankiel's 7 RBIs
He also homered twice in
St. Louis' 16-4 win over
ST. LOUIS (AP) Rick Ankiel isn't just hitting, he's turning into a force.
Ankiel homered twice and had a career-high seven RBIs, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over the Pittsburgh Pirates 16-4 Thursday in a game shortened to eight innings because of rain.
"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 major league debut 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 homers and 29 RBIs in 23 games. He also homered 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."
Cards still in hunt
He made his second start in center field, hauling in Steven 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 homers.
"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.
Rain shortened to 8 innings
The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 26 minutes because of rain, and there was a mandatory 30-minute delay before the game was called with no outs in the top of the ninth. Wednesday's game began after a 49-minute rain delay.
Jack Wilson had two hits and was 11-for-16 in the series. He's batting a major league-best .409 (36-for-88) since Aug. 1.
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