for this game

Looper, Duncan shine as Cardinals beat Marlins in opener

Jul 17, 2007 - 3:36 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- Braden Looper continues to feel comfortable pitching at Dolphin Stadium.

Looper finally broke through as the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals posted a 5-3 victory over the Florida Marlins in the opener of a three-game series on Monday.

Looper (7-7) has struggled on the mound, going winless over his previous six starts. The former Marlin began the campaign 5-2 with a 2.29 ERA in his first eight outings.

"I feel like I've had some good starts, but I just wasn't winning," Looper said. "It's not like I haven't pitched well, but it's one of those things you have to go through, I guess."

A converted starter this season, Looper scattered two runs and five hits with four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings for his first victory since tossing six strong frames for a 3-1 win against Pittsburgh on May 24.

"He's a competitor. He hasn't gotten a lot of wins for his efforts but tonight he got the decision and that's what matters," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "He probably could have gone a little further, but I wanted to put it in the hands of our relievers."

The righthander improved to 13-6 record with 27 saves in 201 career outings in South Beach. Looper was a mainstay in the bullpen for the Marlins from 1999-2003.

"It's always a little different when you face a former team, but most of these (Marlins) weren't there then," Looper said. "Still, you have some feelings coming down here knowing the success you've had."

Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez knows all about Looper's fastball, but he was even more impressed with the way he used his other pitches.

"He's always thrown hard, but he's come up with a couple of nice other pitches which makes him even tougher," Gonzalez said. "He's always had a good arm and been very effective as a starter."

With the game tied at 2-2 in the fourth, Juan Encarnacion walked, stole second and took third on a groundout. Gary Bennett brought the outfielder home with the go-ahead RBI single off Marlins starter Byung-Hyun Kim (4-5).

Adam Kennedy blasted his second homer of the season and in as many nights with a solo shot in the sixth as St. Louis pushed its advantage to 4-2.

"I've been trying to keep the right approach and stay positive," Kennedy said. "It's just time to gear it up and have confidence. I know what I'm capable of, and just have to keep making good swings."

La Russa isn't surprised by Kennedy's breakout.

"That's the way he's played his whole career. The guy's a competitor and you know it's just a matter of time before he puts it all together," La Russa said. "That's a big lift for us with him getting hot, no question."

The Cardinals, who have won eight of 10 here overall, got on the board when Skip Schumaker walked and came around on Chris Duncan's 18th homer off Kim in the first for a 2-0 lead.

Duncan added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh to plate World Series MVP David Eckstein.

St. Louis closer Jason Isringhausen slammed the door in the ninth for his 18th save.

Florida had a chance to draw close in the seventh as Hanley Ramirez's single off reliever Ryan Franklin put runners on first and third. Franklin, however, struck out Dan Uggla to end the threat.

In six-plus innings, Kim gave up five runs and eight hits and issued a season-worst seven walks, falling to 1-3 all-time against the Cardinals. The righthander tried to help his own cause with a one-out double in the fifth inning, but was stranded when Looper escaped the jam.

"They asked me if I wanted to go out there (in the seventh) and I said yes," Kim said through an interpretor. "I was just upset at myself."

Jeremy Hermida and Matt Treanor each drove in runs in the second for the Marlins, who had their modest two-game winning streak ended.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    ST LOUIS 2 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 5 10 0
    FLORIDA 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 8 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: STL - BRADEN LOOPER, RYAN FRANKLIN (7TH), JASON ISRINGHAUSEN (9TH)
    AND GARY BENNETT
    FLA - BYUNG-HYUN KIM, TAYLOR TANKERSLEY (7TH), LEE
    GARDNER (7TH), JUSTIN MILLER

    Jul 16 10:10 PM


  • NL
    AT FLORIDA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY MIGUEL CABRERA (22) TO RIGHT WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 8TH OFF RYAN FRANKLIN.
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 5, FLORIDA 3
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: M JACOBS (.276, 1-FOR-3)

    Cardinals vs. MarlinsJul 16 9:46 PM


  • NL
    AT FLORIDA - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY CHRIS DUNCAN SCORED DAVID ECKSTEIN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, A PUJOLS ON FIRST, S SCHUMAKER ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 5
    FLORIDA 2 TOP, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: S ROLEN (.264, 0-FOR-2, BB)

    Cardinals vs. MarlinsJul 16 9:07 PM


  • NL
    AT FLORIDA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY ADAM KENNEDY (2) TO RIGHT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 6TH OFF BYUNG-HYUN KIM.
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 4, FLORIDA 2
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: G BENNETT (.224, 1-FOR-2, RBI)

    Cardinals vs. MarlinsJul 16 8:48 PM


  • NL
    AT FLORIDA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY GARY BENNETT SCORED JUAN ENCARNACION.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, G BENNETT ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 3
    FLORIDA 2 TOP, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: B LOOPER (.148, 0-FOR-1)

    Cardinals vs. MarlinsJul 16 8:07 PM


  • NL
    AT FLORIDA - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY MATT TREANOR SCORED JOSH WILLINGHAM.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J HERMIDA ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 2
    FLORIDA 2 BOTTOM, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: A AMEZAGA (.275, 2 HR, 23 RBI)

    Cardinals vs. MarlinsJul 16 7:37 PM


  • NL
    AT FLORIDA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JEREMY HERMIDA SCORED MIKE JACOBS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J HERMIDA ON FIRST, J WILLINGHAM ON THIRD, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: ST LOUIS 2
    FLORIDA 1 BOTTOM, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: M TREANOR (.288, 1 HR, 5 RBI)

    Cardinals vs. MarlinsJul 16 7:35 PM


  • NL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    ST LOUIS 2 2 1 0
    FLORIDA 0 0 0 (BOT 1)

    CURRENT PITCHERS: STL - BRADEN LOOPER
    FLA - BYUNG-HYUN KIM

    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: H RAMIREZ (.331, 14 HR, 36 RBI)
    D UGGLA (.243, 17 HR, 53 RBI)
    M CABRERA (.326, 21 HR, 65 RBI)

    Cardinals vs. MarlinsJul 16 7:14 PM