"The reason he's here is we think he improves our chance to win," manager Tony La Russa said. "But this is the big leagues, and he's going to be under the pressure and the expectation to produce."
Ankiel, who started in right field Thursday against San Diego, produced right away, cracking a three-run homer in the seventh inning to put away the Cardinals' win.
La Russa, who applauded wildly after Ankiel's homer, said, "Next to striking out (Detroit's Brandon) Inge (in the World Series last year), that's the happiest I've ever been in this uniform."
Joel Pineiro, then pitching for Seattle, beat the Padres twice in 2003, giving up two runs in each start, and while some of the names have changed, the results didn't Thursday night. Matched against National League ERA leader Chris Young, Pineiro again stopped the Padres, permitting only four hits and walking none in seven innings as the Cardinals completed a 3-1 series win over the Padres.
Pineiro became the third consecutive Cardinals starter to complete seven innings, an unprecedented occurrence for a tattered rotation this season.
"The No. 1 way for us to get hot is for our starting pitching to get hot," La Russa said.
CARDINALS 5, PADRES 0: Catcher Yadier Molina, besides handling right-hander Joel Pineiro brilliantly, singled three times, driving in one run and setting up a four-run seventh inning with a hit-and-run single.
NOTES AND QUOTES
-- With INF Scott Spiezio, the Cardinals' backup third baseman, on the restricted list as he is treated for substance abuse, regular 3B Scott Rolen, who has had occasional bouts with his left shoulder, has no experienced backup.
--The Cardinals have 51 pinch hits, by far tops in the majors, and a lofty .287 pinch batting average that is 18 points over their overall team average. OF Ryan Ludwick has 10 of the pinch hits. San Francisco is a distant second in pinch hits at 41.
--RHP Joel Pineiro's win Thursday was his first as a starter since July 24, 2006, when he pitched for Seattle.
--The Cardinals beat the Padres four games to three to win the season series. Five of the games were shutouts, including all three San Diego wins.
--OF Rick Ankiel's homer Thursday was his first in the big leagues since April 26, 2000. It came in his first game as an outfielder. He hit two homers when he was a left-handed pitcher. He was promoted from Class AAA Memphis, where he had a Pacific Coast League-leading 32 homers this year.