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Lohse, Ankiel help streaking Cardinals sweep Nationals

Apr 6, 2008 - 10:14 PM ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- The St. Louis Cardinals' pitching staff was not supposed to be this good.

Kyle Lohse threw seven outstanding innings and Rick Ankiel homered as the St. Louis Cardinals completed a three-game sweep with a 3-0 victory over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.

Lohse (1-0), who signed as a free agent last month, allowed just four hits and finished with two strikeouts and one walk.

Ankiel doubled home a run in the first and blasted a solo shot - his third of the season - in the third. Yadier Molina drove in a run for the Cardinals, who have won five straight games.

"It's an outstanding way to start the season and you really have to credit the starting pitching," Ankiel said.

"It just seems like I've been getting balls out over the plate and I'm putting good swings on them," said Ankiel, who began his career as a pitcher before moving to the outfield in 2005. "I feel comfortable here and I've been able to do well."

Washington, which has lost four straight, was held to just two hit in the final four frames.

Lohse continued a string of surprisingly strong pitching performances for St. Louis, which is missing three starters due to injury.

Mark Mulder, Joel Pineiro, Chris Carpenter and Matt Clement are on all the 15-day disabled list. Despite that, St. Louis' starting rotation has allowed just two runs in 29 2/3 innings.

As a result, the Cardinals are off to their best start since winning seven of eight to start the 2000 season.

"I've got this phobia about getting too excited," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "Because baseball will slap you and I've been slapped before. I'll just say that we've pitched great these last six games. And I like the way we're going about it. They're putting it in, they're preparing and they're competing."

Lohse, who split time between Cincinnati and Philadelphia last season, allowed just four hits in seven innings with two strikeouts and one walk. He threw five scoreless innings in his season debut Tuesday, allowed just two runners to get into scoring position.

"I'm throwing a two-seamer and letting it move," Lohse said. "And I'm letting the batter get themselves out as opposed to overpowering them. You get in trouble that way. Things are going a little better than I expected, but I'm just going to take it and keep going. We're off to a good start but it's a long season."

The Nationals had scored 15 runs the past three games, but managed just five hits off Lohse and three relievers.

"They made some good plays in the field and we just couldn't string anything together," Washington catcher Paul Lo Duca said. "We had chances in all three games and just didn't get it done. No big hits for us. Big hits for them, bottom line."

Jesus Flores and Ryan Franklin bridged the gap to closer Jason Isringhausen, who picked up his third save of the season by throwing a scoreless ninth.

St. Louis took a 1-0 lead in the first when Ankiel drilled a 1-0 pitch from Washington starter John Lannan (0-1) to left-center field, plating rookie Brian Barton. Ankiel doubled the lead in the third, depositing a fastball from Lannan into the left field seats for his third homer of the season.

Those were the only two mistakes made by Lannan, who was the Nationals' minor league pitcher of the year in 2007. The 23-year-old lefthander allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked three.

"It was a tough loss," Lannan said. "I made some mistakes. I left the ball up and got hurt - especially with Ankiel."

"He did a great job for us," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "He gave us a quality start. He gave us a chance and what else can you ask."

The Cardinals tacked on a run against reliever Luis Ayala in the eighth. Ryan Ludwick hit a leadoff triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Molina.








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

    BATTERIES: WAS - JOHN LANNAN, JOEL HANRAHAN (7TH), LUIS AYALA (8TH) AND PAUL LO
    DUCA
    STL - KYLE LOHSE, RANDY FLORES (8TH), RYAN FRANKLIN
    (8TH), JASON ISRINGHAUSEN (9TH) AND Y

    Apr 6 4:37 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY YADIER MOLINA SCORED RYAN LUDWICK.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 0
    ST LOUIS 3 BOTTOM, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: A KENNEDY (.308, 0-FOR-3)

    Nationals 0, Cardinals 3  Bot 8, 0 OutsApr 6 4:26 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY RICK ANKIEL (3) TO LEFT CENTER WITH 2 OUT
    IN THE 3RD OFF JOHN LANNAN.
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 0, ST LOUIS 2
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: A PUJOLS (.375, 0-FOR-1)

    Nationals 0, Cardinals 2  Bot 3, 0 OutsApr 6 3:04 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY RICK ANKIEL SCORED BRIAN BARTON.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R ANKIEL ON SECOND, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: WASHINGTON 0
    ST LOUIS 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: A PUJOLS (.400, 0 HR, 1 RBI)

    Nationals 0, Cardinals 1  Bot 1, 0 OutsApr 6 2:30 PM