Brewers' Seanz baffles Cardinals

Sunday, April 25, 2004

MILWAUKEE -- Making his major league debut, Chris Saenz made believe it was just another day in the minor leagues.

He looked like he had been pitching in the big leagues for years.

"If you change everything, you'll be in trouble," Saenz said after allowing two hits in six innings Saturday to lead the Milwaukee Brewers past the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1.

The 22-year-old right-hander struck out seven and walked three. He was brought up Friday from Class AA Huntsville when Chris Capuano was put on the 15-day disabled list because of a leg injury. The Brewers didn't have an emergency starter available because their bullpen was worn out during Thursday's 15-inning loss to Arizona.

"I was just trying not think about it," he said. "I was trying (to think) it was another day in Double-A, just going out there ... getting my pitches down."

Saenz, 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts for Huntsville, worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first, then pitched with command until leaving with a runner on in the seventh. He threw 93 pitches, 58 for strikes.

"He got into a groove, and we didn't do much against him," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He's probably not very impressed with us."

With his mother, Cheryl, and girlfriend, Jackie, watching from the stands, Saenz struck out Bo Hart to start the game, gave up a single to Ray Lankford, then retired Albert Pujols on a foulout. Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen walked, and Edgar Renteria hit an inning-ending flyout to the warning track.

The only player Saenz allowed to reach in the next five innings was Pujols, who was hit by a pitch in the third and singled in the sixth.

"He threw the ball pretty good and made no mistakes," Renteria said. "It's pretty good for the first time."

Saenz was matched up against Woody Williams, who went 18-9 last season. Williams (0-2) allowed two runs and three hits in six innings, and struck out five. On April 7, he made his season debut against the Brewers and didn't get a decision.

"I got outpitched," he said. "He comes up here from Double-A, and he pitched outstanding. There wasn't a whole lot I could do. He was pounding the strike zone."

St. Louis began the day with a major league-high 34 homers and an NL-leading .294 average.

"What he did out there today ... is nothing less than phenomenal," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "He was going right after hitters. He was moving his fastball in and out. He had a nasty slider that he was buckling them with."

Jeff Bennett relieved after Saenz walked Renteria to start the seventh and got out of the inning.

Luis Vizcaino threw a run-scoring wild pitch in the eighth. Dan Kolb, Milwaukee's fifth pitcher, had a perfect ninth for his fifth save in as many chances, completing a five-hitter.

Milwaukee took a 2-0 lead in the first on Junior Spivey's run-scoring single and Lyle Overbay's sacrifice fly. Podsednik tripled leading off the eighth and scored on a wild pitch by Julian Tavarez.

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