ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis manager Tony La Russa wasn't too
optimistic as the Cardinals entered the ninth inning trailing the
Chicago Cubs by two runs Saturday afternoon.
With Chicago closer Kerry Wood out on the mound to begin the
inning, La Russa figured his club was in trouble.
"I didn't like our chances," La Russa said. "(Wood) has so
many weapons. This guy is really good."
So was La Russa's bunch on this day.
Outfielder Rick Ankiel slapped a two-run, two-out single to
right field in the bottom of the ninth inning to cap a three-run
rally and lead the Cardinals to a 5-4 win over the Cubs.
The win brought the Cardinals (50-39) to within 2½ games of the
first-place Cubs (52-36) in the National League Central.
Ankiel, who had had three hits and three RBIs, also added a solo
homer in the sixth inning. In the ninth, he picked on an 0-1 slider
to give St. Louis its fifth win in the last eight outings. Wood
(4-2) blew his fifth save in 27 tries.
"I was just looking for a pitch to drive up the middle,"
Ankiel said. "Kerry Wood is tough; he throws hard."
The Cardinals had little problems against one of the game's top
closers. Ryan Ludwick and Yadier Molina drew walks to begin the
rally and Adam Kennedy hit a double to right to cut the deficit to
4-3. Wood appeared set to wriggle out of a bases-loaded no-out jam
before Ankiel came to the plate with two outs.
"We were one pitch away from getting out of it," Wood said.
"But it seems to always be the case when you're in that role."
St. Louis reliever Kyle McClellan (1-3) picked up his first
major league victory with two perfect innings of relief.
The Cubs led throughout the contest. They jumped to a 1-0 lead
in the third on Mark DeRosa's 11th home run of the season. Ryan
Theriot singled in DeRosa in the fifth for a 2-0 advantage.
St. Louis rallied to tie the game in the sixth against starter
Ted Lilly. Ankiel led off the inning with his 18th homer. He hit a
1-2 pitch over the wall in right-center. The home run pushed Ankiel
into a tie with Albert Pujols for the team lead.
Pujols followed Ankiel's blast with a double into left-center.
One out later, Ryan Ludwick hit a double down the line in left to
Chicago infielder Aramis Ramirez broke a 2-2 tie by hitting a
2-0 pitch from reliever Ryan Franklin over the wall in left-center
field for his 15th homer of the season in front of 46,865 fans, a
new record for the three-year-old Busch Stadium.
Chicago starter Ted Lilly, who was unbeaten in his five previous
starts, allowed just two runs in six innings. He has given up just
six runs in his last four road starts.
St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse gave up two runs in seven innings.
He struck out six and walked two. Molina kept his 12-game hitting
streak alive with a sixth-inning infield single.
Notes: Derrek Lee had three hits for the Cubs. He's hitting .476
over his last five games. ... St. Louis third baseman Troy Glaus is
0-for-20 against Chicago this season.