The Cardinals Major League Notebook 05/25

The Cardinals' brilliant stretch of pitching came to a momentary end although right-hander Joel Pineiro pitched reasonably well until he allowed three hits with two out in the seventh inning as the Kansas City Royals broke a 2-2 tie.

The Cardinals had blanked the Royals in the first two games of the interleague series, both by scores of 5-0.

"You're not going to shut them out forever," said manager Tony La Russa. "I thought Joel pitched really well. He's kicking himself about the third run because he had two outs and nobody on and he had two strikes. He made a mistake with a breaking ball but he pitched well enough to win."

The defeat, which marked the end of the Cardinals' winning streak at five games, marked the return of outfielder Rick Ankiel, who came back Sunday to start in right field, at least for the moment. Ankiel, who originally was supposed to come off the 15-day disabled list on Monday in Milwaukee, was 1-for-4 at the plate and ran well.

"I'm glad he got a base hit," La Russa said. "That made it worthwhile (for him) to play the game."

The Cardinals' winning streak came mostly because of their pitching. Counting the loss Sunday, they have scored three runs or fewer in four of their last six games. The Royals joined many other teams in taking the bat out of 1B Albert Pujols' hands. Kansas City, against whom Pujols has a .386 career average, walked him seven times in the series, including three intentional passes.

ROYALS 3, CARDINALS 2: Cardinals' starting pitchers have allowed only four runs in their last 44 2/3 innings but RHP Joel Pineiro weakened just enough Sunday to allow the Royals three runs against him in seven innings. The Cardinals had the tying and winning runs on base in the ninth but LF Chris Duncan lined hard to right for the final out.

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