The Redbird Report 09/07

The legend of Rick Ankiel continues to grow in St. Louis

The pitcher-turned-outfielder already had done enough since coming up from Class AAA Memphis. Ankiel had seven homers and 22 RBIs in his first 22 games as a position player.

But, on Thursday, Ankiel went above and beyond with two homers and a double, driving in seven runs. With nine homers now, he is tied with Jim Edmonds for fourth on the club. Ankiel is one homer ahead of Scott Rolen, and his 18 RBIs during the seven-game homestand match injured second baseman Adam Kennedy's total for the year.

Counting his 32 homers at Memphis, Ankiel has 41 homers for the season.

"You describe it," manager Tony La Russa told reporters. "We're just enjoying it."

That enjoyment likely dimmed a bit Thursday night, when the New York Daily News ran a story that said Ankiel received human growth hormone from a Florida pharmacy in 2004. Major League Baseball didn't ban HGH until 2005.

CARDINALS 16, PIRATES 4 (eight innings, rain): The Cardinals pounded out a season-high 22 hits as they moved within one game of the Cubs and Brewers, who are tied for first place in the National League Central. Rick Ankiel, who drove in seven runs with two homers and a double, was robbed of a fourth hit on an outstanding stop by Pittsburgh second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who turned Ankiel's first-inning smash into a double play. David Eckstein, Brendan Ryan and Aaron Miles also had three hits apiece.

The game was won by the bullpen.

After an ill-fated start by lefty Mike Maroth, who lasted just 1 2/3 innings, five relievers finished up, with right-hander Kelvin Jimenez receiving credit for the win by getting out one hitter.

Jimenez, who on Monday had retired Pittsburgh's Jason Bay on a groundout with the bases loaded, fanned Bay with the bases loaded and the score tied at 2-2 to end the second inning Thursday.

Ankiel's three-run homer in the bottom half made Jimenez a winner for the second time.


--2B Aaron Miles was 3-for-5 Thursday, giving him 20 hits in 42 at-bats (.476) this season.

--1B Albert Pujols, who hadn't knocked in a run in his last nine games, singled for his 85th RBI in the fourth inning.

--SS David Eckstein, who had three hits Thursday, finished the four-game series against Pittsburgh 10-for-14.

--RHP Anthony Reyes, a former starter, pitched two innings of relief Thursday, allowing one run.

--RHP Kip Wells was in the bullpen Thursday, suggesting that RHP Brad Thompson, who threw a bullpen session during the game, might replace Wells in the rotation Sunday in Arizona.

--The Cardinals left after the game for a seven-game trip opening Friday night in Arizona with a marquee pitching matchup -- 2006 Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb for the Diamondbacks against the Cardinals' best, RHP Adam Wainwright.

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