Suppan, five HRs cure ills for Cards
Saturday, June 25, 2005
St. Louis ended a three-game losing streak with an 8-1 victory over Pittsburgh.
ST. LOUIS -- Jeff Suppan gave an overworked St. Louis Cardinals bullpen a big breather.
Suppan took a two-hitter into the ninth inning and the Cardinals backed him with five home runs in an 8-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
"He's got that ability to rise to the occasion and pick us up," manager Tony La Russa said. "He demonstrated it again. He was a master."
Jim Edmonds hit two two-run homers and So Taguchi also connected twice to help the Cardinals end a three-game losing streak that matched their longest of the season. St. Louis has beaten the Pirates 13 times in the last 14 meetings dating to last year.
Suppan (7-6) allowed a bloop single by Jack Wilson leading off the third and then retired 15 batters before Humberto Cota singled leading off the eighth. He was lifted with one out in the ninth after hitting a batter and giving up three hits, including Freddy Sanchez's RBI single.
Wearing long sleeves despite 94-degree heat, Suppan struck out five and walked one.
"Was it hot out there?" Suppan joked. "It's part of playing in St. Louis or the Midwest, it's hot and humid, but I felt fine."
In the previous three games, starters Jason Marquis, Mark Mulder and Matt Morris had totaled 9 1-3 innings and allowed 23 runs -- 16 earned -- and 26 hits. During the losing streak, the Cardinals were outscored 29-17.
"That's obviously in your mind but it wasn't an approach I was going to take out there, like I have to go out there and throw all these innings," Suppan said. "I went out there and said, 'OK, what's going to make me stay in the game longer? Get ahead, change speeds and work fast."'
Suppan is 6-1 for his career against the Pirates, for whom he pitched in 2003. His shutout on July 28, 2003 against the Cardinals was a deciding factor in St. Louis signing him as a free agent the following offseason.
Taguchi's third homer with one out in the fifth was the Cardinals' first hit off Kip Wells (5-7). Left fielder Jason Bay missed by inches on a leaping attempt at the wall on Taguchi's first homer since May 2.
Edmonds' two-run, opposite-field shot in the sixth made it 3-0. It was his 12th homer of the year and first since June 7. Yadier Molina hit his third homer leading off the seventh for a 4-0 lead.
Edmonds' two-run shot to right off Mike Johnston in the eighth made it 6-0 and gave him 22 career multihomer games. Taguchi got the first multihomer game of his career with another two-run shot off Johnston later in the inning.
Wells lasted seven innings, giving up four runs and six hits -- three of them homers. He's 0-4 with an 8.31 ERA in his last four road starts since allowing one earned run in 7 1-3 innings May 24 in St. Louis, and 2-5 for his career against the Cardinals.
"My game plan was to try to pound the strike zone early in the count and get them to put the ball in play early," Wells said. "And I made a few bad pitches."
The Pirates have been outscored 25-1 in Wells' last three starts, against the Yankees, Red Sox and now the Cardinals -- all on the road.
"He gave up a bunch against good teams with good pitching," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "When he's giving up six or seven runs, you're putting your club behind the 8 ball."
Notes: The start of the game was delayed 32 minutes because a fire at an industrial plant closed downtown highways for a few hours. ... Umpire Brian Knight replaced Rick Reed, who left Thursday's game in the fifth after he was struck in the head by a foul ball. Knight had been at second base. ... A paid crowd of 48,184 was the Cardinals' 10th sellout in 11 games. ... Cardinals starters lead the majors with 41 victories, three more than the Chicago White Sox. ... The Cardinals have lost three straight twice this season, also dropping three in a row to San Diego in May. ... Suppan's double in the fifth was the second extra-base hit of his career. He's 5-for-24 this year after going 4-for-57 last season. ... Daryle Ward was 0-for-4, ending a 10-game hitting streak.