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Ankiel hits two homers in Cardinals' win

September 07, 2007|From the Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Rick Ankiel isn't only hitting, he's turning into a force.

Ankiel homered twice and had a career-high seven runs batted in, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over the Pittsburgh Pirates, 16-4, Thursday in a game shortened to eight innings because of rain.

"Marvel is a good word," Manager Tony La Russa said. "It's kind of amazing, isn't it? Clutch, too."

Ankiel hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-2 lead against Bryan Bullington (0-1), who made his major league debut five years after he was the No. 1 overall pick in the amateur draft. Ankiel made it 11-3 with a two-run drive in the fifth against John Grabow and added a two-run double in the sixth off Dave Davidson, also making his big league debut.

Brought up Aug. 9 in his first major league appearance since he pitched for the Cardinals in 2004, Ankiel is batting .358 with nine homers and 29 RBIs in 23 games. He also homered twice against the Dodgers on Aug. 11.

"It feels as good as it can feel," Ankiel said. "The thing to remember when you get up there with runners on base is that the pitcher is the one that's in trouble."

He made his second start in center field, hauling in Steven Pearce's drive at the wall in the third. He barely missed a diving catch on pinch-hitter Matt Kata's slicing drive that fell for a double in the fourth, getting a round of applause for the effort, in addition to making two curtain calls after his homers.

The Cardinals are 17-9 since the Ankiel callup.

"It seems like we've been winning since I've been here," Ankiel said.

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