for this game

Ankiel supports Thompson as Cardinals edge Astros

Sep 23, 2007 - 4:14 AM By Jim Walsh PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- A night after being eliminated from postseason play, the St. Louis Cardinals looked more like the defending world champions.

Brad Thompson pitched six strong innings and Rick Ankiel belted a two-run home run as the Cardinals defeated the Houston Astros, 7-4, on Saturday.

It was only the third victory in the last 17 games for St. Louis, which will miss playing in the postseason for the first time since 2003.

Thompson (7-6) recorded his first win as a starter in more than three months after surrendering just one run in seven innings against Kansas City on June 19. The righthander was 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in 12 games - seven starts - since that outing.

"It's been one of those years, it's been weird," said Thompson, who allowed just one three-ball count on the night. "It hasn't been necessarily a good year for me, but it's been a big learning experience.

"One positive for me is (that) I think I can start at the big-league level, which I didn't know coming into the season - confidence-wise I think that'll help."

But Thompson had command of his sinker early on Saturday, retiring 13 of the first 14 batters with only two fly-ball outs. He allowed one run and four hits while striking out two without a walk - needing just 64 pitches.

"It's real clear, when (Thompson) doesn't elevate the ball in the middle of the plate, he gets outs," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "He works quickly, he's got confidence, he trusts himself."

Troy Percival and Brian Falkenborg each hurled a scoreless frame, and Tyler Johnson got the first two outs of the ninth before yielding a three-run homer to rookie Hunter Pence.

Craig Biggio then singled to knock Johnson from the game, setting up closer Jason Isringhausen, who struck out Ty Wigginton for his 30th save.

"We had a chance to win the game," Houston interim manager Cecil Cooper said. "We had a chance to get back in it, right there at the end, Hunter gave us a big home run and got us back in it, and we had the tying run on deck."

Ankiel's homer off Woody Williams sparked a five-run seventh inning that provided St. Louis a 7-1 edge. It was the 10th home run of the season for Ankiel but the first since September 6 for the pitcher-turned-outfielder. The Cardinals banged out seven hits, including Albert Pujols' two-run pinch-hit single.

"When I started not hitting well, I think I was pressing a little bit," said Ankiel, who had three hits. "But that's over, I feel like I saw the ball well and found some holes in the infield and got lucky and got one out, it felt good."

Pujols' two RBI pushed him to 98 on the season - two shy of starting his career with seven straight 100-RBI seasons. But to Pujols, the milestone cannot replace the letdown of the Cardinals' recent free-fall in the standings.

"It would be nice to get (100 RBI)," the St. Louis slugger said. "But did that 100 RBI help us win 100 games? No. So, it's a disappointing season as a team. I'm more disappointed that we didn't get in the playoffs when we were only one game out, and we hit that wall."

Houston starter Matt Albers (4-10) pitched in and out of trouble in six innings. The Cardinals collected 11 hits off the 24-year-old righthander but had trouble pushing runs across as double plays ended St. Louis' rallies in the first and fourth.

It was the fourth straight loss for Albers, who had defeated the Cardinals in his two previous starts against them earlier this campaign.

"I was trying to pound the strike zone early, get them swinging," Albers said. "I made a few bad pitches up in the zone, where they got hits in the hole. They just got on a little bit more today but, overall, I think I did all right."

The Cardinals finally broke through in the fifth. With one out, rookie Brendan Ryan singled, stole second and came home on David Eckstein's double. Two batters later, Ryan Ludwick doubled down the left field line, scoring Eckstein and giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

Houston got on the board in the sixth when J.R. Towles doubled and was brought home on Chris Burke's single. It added three more in the ninth on Pence's homer to provide the final margin.

The Astros, who had totaled 24 runs against the Cardinals in the first two games of the series, fell short of their first four-game winning streak since May.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    HOUSTON 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 4 8 0
    ST LOUIS 0 0 0 0 2 0 5 0 x 7 20 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: HOU - MATT ALBERS, WOODY WILLIAMS (7TH), BRIAN MOEHLER (7TH) AND
    J.R. TOWLES
    STL - BRAD THOMPSON, TROY PERCIVAL (7TH), BRIAN
    FALKENBORG (8TH), TYLER JOHNSON (9TH),

    Sep 22 10:01 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY HUNTER PENCE (15) TO CENTER WITH 2
    OUT IN THE 9TH OFF TYLER JOHNSON SCORED JOSH ANDERSON AND CHRIS
    BURKE.
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 4, ST LOUIS 7
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: B MOEHLER (.200, 0 HR, 0 RBI)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 22 9:50 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY SO TAGUCHI SCORED AARON MILES.
    SITUATION: 5 RUNS IN, S TAGUCHI ON FIRST, A REYES ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 1
    ST LOUIS 7 BOTTOM, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: B RYAN (.303, 1-FOR-3)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 22 9:19 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY ALBERT PUJOLS SCORED RYAN LUDWICK AND MIGUEL
    CAIRO.
    SITUATION: 4 RUNS IN, A PUJOLS ON FIRST, A MILES ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 1
    ST LOUIS 6 BOTTOM, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: T PERCIVAL (.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 22 9:14 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY RICK ANKIEL (10) TO RIGHT WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 7TH OFF WOODY WILLIAMS SCORED DAVID ECKSTEIN.
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 1, ST LOUIS 4
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: R LUDWICK (.257, 1-FOR-2, BB, RBI)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 22 9:06 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY CHRIS BURKE SCORED J.R. TOWLES.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, C BURKE ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 1
    ST LOUIS 2 TOP, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: L BERKMAN (.275, 0-FOR-2)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 22 8:38 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY RYAN LUDWICK SCORED DAVID ECKSTEIN.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, R LUDWICK ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 0
    ST LOUIS 2 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: S SCHUMAKER (.315, 0-FOR-2)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 22 8:27 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY DAVID ECKSTEIN SCORED BRENDAN RYAN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, D ECKSTEIN ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: HOUSTON 0
    ST LOUIS 1 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: R ANKIEL (.275, 2-FOR-2)

    Astros vs. CardinalsSep 22 8:26 PM