The Redbird Report 04/03

The Cardinals had four extra-base hits among their 11 hits Wednesday night but none was bigger than the first hit of journeyman Rico Washington's career.

The 29-year-old, on the club only because backup infielder Brendan Ryan has a ribcage strain, banged a pinch double in his second big-league at-bat to key a four-run eighth inning. The rally stretched a one-run lead into a five-run cushion as the Cardinals won for the first time in two games.

Washington had spent 11 seasons in the minor leagues before getting a chance this spring, when he batted .333.

"Rico can play," manager Tony La Russa said. "He deserved this opportunity, and finally it's there for him. It was a big hit, every way you look at it."

The Cardinals had one of their lucky charms on the mound. They were 9-2 in the starts made by converted reliever Todd Wellemeyer last year, and Wellemeyer delivered five solid innings Wednesday in gaining the win. He fanned six, including four of the last six batters he faced before being lifted after 95 pitches.

"He's relentless," La Russa said. "He can miss a pitch or somebody gets a base hit, and he doesn't scare."

But, even with the big lead, the victory didn't come easily. Right-hander Russ Springer had to labor through 32 pitches to get the final three outs in the ninth and, having pitched the day before also, probably isn't available for several days now.

And righty Jason Isringhausen warmed up three or four times without getting in the game.

CARDINALS 8, COLORADO 3: Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick both had three hits in Wednesday's victory. Ankiel homered, and Ludwick, replacing injured Chris Duncan, drove in three runs with a triple and a double as the Cardinals won for the first time this year. St. Louis used five more pitchers, running its total to 11 for two nights.


LF Chris Duncan will be out of the Cardinals lineup for a while after suffering a hamstring strain while being thrown out trying to steal second in the fourth inning of Tuesday night's game.

"We're going to make sure he's well before we run him out there," manager Tony La Russa said. "We're not exactly sure how long he's going to be out, how long we have to be careful with him."

INF Brendan Ryan continues to heal from his ribcage injury in Jupiter, Fla., and he is eligible to come off the disabled list this weekend. But manager Tony La Russa suggested strongly that that move was not imminent.

"He needs to play," La Russa said. "He can't come out there without playing a game."

Ryan is likely to go on a minor league rehab assignment before he is activated.

--Wednesday's paid crowd of 39,915 ended a string of 165 sellouts at the last two Busch Stadiums. The last non-sellout crowd was in the final week at Busch Stadium No. 2 on Sept. 28, 2005. There had never been a non-sellout at the newest Busch Stadium, which opened in 2006.

--CF Rick Ankiel has hit 10 of his first 14 big-league homers in the newest Busch Stadium and has a .323 average in the park.

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