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Ankiel Has It Under Control for Cardinals

April 09, 2001|From Associated Press

Rick Ankiel was no wild man Sunday. Wonderful was more like it.

The 21-year-old left-hander, whose postseason control problems put his future in question, pitched five effective innings in his 2001 debut as the St. Louis Cardinals completed a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, 9-4, at Phoenix.

Ankiel gave up two runs and three hits, struck out eight and walked three in five-plus innings. He did not throw anything close to a wild pitch.

In a remarkable role reversal, Ankiel displayed control and poise, while Randy Johnson struggled in the Diamondbacks' fourth loss in a row.

The National League Cy Young winner the last two seasons gave up nine runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings, including home runs by Mike Matheny, Eli Marrero and Edgar Renteria.

The nine runs were the most allowed by Johnson since he gave up 10 in 2 1/3 innings for Seattle at Toronto on April 10, 1994. He struck out four, walked two and hit two batters.

Ankiel, who threw nine wild pitches in four postseason innings and then showed inconsistent control this spring, consistently hit 93 mph with his fastball, and his curve kept the Diamondbacks off balance.

He survived a shaky start to retire 11 in a row, six with strikeouts. He struck out the side in the fifth before leaving the game after walking Luis Gonzalez to lead off the sixth.

San Diego 11, Colorado 3--Phil Nevin homered and drove in five runs to lead the Padres to their first sweep of a three-game series in Denver.

Nevin broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth, greeting reliever Craig Dingman with a 453-foot, three-run homer, his third of the season.

Mike Darr had a career-high four hits for San Diego, which also got production from the bottom of the order. No. 7 hitter Santiago Perez had a single, run-scoring double and scored twice, and No. 8 hitter Donaldo Mendez had three hits, including a solo homer, and drove in two runs.

Florida 6, Atlanta 1--Matt Clement is making a good impression on his new team.

Clement yielded four hits in eight innings for his first win with Florida, and the Marlins tied a club record with four home runs at Miami.

Clement, obtained last month in a trade with San Diego, had eight strikeouts as the Marlins won two of three from the defending National League East champions.

Philadelphia 3, Chicago 1--Robert Person gave up four hits and one run in seven innings and helped himself with a three-run double as the Phillies avoided being swept by the Cubs at Veterans Stadium.

The Cubs' Jon Lieber retired the first 14 hitters before Travis Lee lined a two-out single to left in the fifth. Pat Burrell followed with a single and David Newhan walked to load the bases before Person's double.

Montreal 5, New York 2--The Expos roughed up Al Leiter to complete a three-game sweep at Olympic Stadium. Leiter gave up nine hits and three earned runs over five innings in his second start.

The Mets loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth against reliever Scott Strickland, but Mike Piazza fouled out. The Mets stranded 14 runners.

Milwaukee 8, Cincinnati 4--Geoff Jenkins and Richie Sexson homered on consecutive pitches at Miller Park to help the Brewers become the first team to open a new ballpark with a series sweep since the Atlanta Braves defeated the Chicago Cubs three times at Turner Field in 1997.

Jenkins, who started the season with only two hits in 22 at-bats, had a run-scoring double in the first inning. He and Sexson homered in the third.

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