The Redbird Report: Cards 5, Royals 1

St. Louis Cardinals starter Brad Thompson regroups between batters in the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals in their interleague baseball game Tuesday, June 19, 2007, in St. Louis. Thompson pitched seven strong innings as the Cardinals beat the Royals 5-1. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

Right-hander Kip Wells didn't get the message that he wasn't starting Tuesday night's game against Kansas City until he showed up the park. But right-hander Brad Thompson, who initially had been slated to start Wednesday, was moved up a day, and with 24 hours to think about it, seemed totally prepared.

Thompson allowed just seven hits and didn't walk anybody in seven innings, and the Cardinals improved to 6-2 in his starts.

The signing Tuesday of right-hander Tomo Ohka to a minor league contract -- he likely will be with the parent club in a week or two -- means that one of the Cardinals' current starters will be out of the rotation, but it probably won't be Thompson.

It appears that hitting coach Hal McRae has helped straighten out left fielder Chris Duncan. When Duncan lapsed into a 2-for-37 funk, McRae suggested that Duncan try to pull everything. Since that message was imparted just more than a week ago, Duncan has hit three homers, including a two-run shot to dead center in the second inning Tuesday. Duncan also drove in a third run with a single.

The Cardinals need to win Wednesday's final game of the series to even the season set with the Royals at three games apiece. St. Louis has had a losing record against Kansas City in just two of the 10 previous years the teams have met in interleague play.

CARDINALS 5, ROYALS 1: Right-hander Brad Thompson economically worked seven innings on just 78 pitches, and Chris Duncan homered for the third time in his last five games and for the 13th time this season. Since Thompson didn't issue a walk, the game was over in a nifty 2 hours, 10 minutes, making it the Cardinals' shortest game of the season.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--The Cardinals may soon have a second Japanese product to go with hot-hitting OF So Taguchi. They signed former Toronto RHP Tomo Ohka to a minor league contract with the expectation that he would join the big club after a start or two. Ohka, 31, has a career record of 50-63 while pitching with Boston, Montreal, Washington, Milwaukee and Toronto, which released him a day before the Cardinals signed him.

Ohka is 2-5 with a 5.79 ERA this season with a .300 opponents' batting average against him. His best season was 2002, when he was 13-8 with a 3.18 ERA for the Montreal Expos.

--2B Adam Kennedy, batting .211, sat out for a fourth consecutive start as INF/OF Scott Spiezio played second base for the second straight night. Spiezio hiked his hitting streak to seven games, during which he has gone 10-for-27.

--CF So Taguchi extended his hitting streak to 12 games, matching his career high. Taguchi is 18-for-42 (.429) in the streak.

--RF Juan Encarnacion's hitting streak ended at 18, one short of his personal best. He fanned twice in an 0-for-4 night.

--The Cardinals' win was just their fifth in 14 interleague games. They close their interleague schedule Wednesday night against Kansas City.

--RHP Kip Wells, skipped Tuesday, next will start on Sunday against Philadelphia. Wells is 5-0 with a 1.26 ERA against the Phillies.


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