Rolen's RBI lead grows in 6-3 win

Friday, May 28, 2004

ST. LOUIS -- Scott Rolen did everything right, except remember that it was getaway day.

Rolen homered and drove in four runs, giving him a major league-leading 49 RBIs, in the St. Louis Cardinals' 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday. He left Busch Stadium without speaking to reporters because he had to hurriedly pack for the team's seven-game trip that begins today in Houston, so his teammates spoke for him.

"The guy is amazing," catcher Mike Matheny said. "He's been carrying us for a while. We can't rely on only him."

Jeff Suppan (4-4) worked six solid innings to help the Cardinals end a three-game losing streak and split an abbreviated two-game series with the Pirates. Tuesday's game was postponed because of rain and spot flooding.

Pittsburgh's Daryle Ward, who hit for the cycle and tied his career best with six RBIs Wednesday night, singled in his first at-bat. But he didn't get the ball out of the infield after that in a 1-for-4 day.

Rolen's 11th homer was a three-run shot off a hanging breaking ball from Ryan Vogelsong (1-4) in the third.

Rolen added a sacrifice fly in the fourth to make it 6-0. Rolen drove in six runs in the two games, and has eight RBIs in his last three games.

"He's been the MVP, I'll put it that way," St. Louis right fielder Reggie Sanders said.

Albert Pujols had a first-inning sacrifice fly and drew a career-high four walks for the Cardinals. John Mabry was 2-for-3 with a double, making him 4-for-7 with two doubles and two walks in two games since being promoted from Triple-A Memphis.

Mabry will get his third straight start Friday at Houston.

"That's the kind of lift a club can use," manager Tony La Russa said. "So he'll have Mr. Clemens tomorrow."

Vogelsong struggled on the mound in his first appearance against St. Louis, but was the hitting star for the Pirates. He was 2-for-3 with an RBI double, but gave up six runs on five hits in five innings with five walks and five strikeouts.

"Anytime you walk guys it isn't any good," Vogelsong said. "I really paid the price for it. I've got to find a way, that's what I keep saying, and that's the bottom line."

Vogelsong is 0-4 in eight starts since winning in his season debut April 8 against the Phillies. This month he has a 6.43 ERA.

"It's been a tough go for him," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "We just need to continue to encourage this young man and work on his command and get him feeling good about himself, and I think he's going to be a quality pitcher for us."

Suppan won for the first time at home, giving up three runs in six innings. He played most of last season for the Pirates.

Suppan is 1-4 with a 5.40 ERA at home and 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA on the road.

"I don't think it's been a struggle," Suppan said. "Do I have a win here? Now, I do. Before I didn't.

"I had two rough games here and two decent games and today we won, and I would say sometimes that's how it goes."

Jason Isringhausen worked the ninth for his ninth save in 11 chances.

Vogelsong and Abraham Nunez had consecutive RBI doubles in the fifth for the Pirates' first runs of the game. Craig Wilson walked to lead off the sixth and scored on Tike Redman's sacrifice fly in the sixth.

Despite the loss, the Pirates have won six of their last eight on the road and have won eight of 13 overall.

Notes: Besides Ward's feat, Wednesday night's game was notable in that all the starters on both teams -- including the pitchers -- got a hit. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's happened only five times in the last 30 years, the last time on Sept. 19, 1998, when the Dodgers played at the Giants. ... Pirates C Humberto Cota left after the top of the fifth with a strained muscle in his left side. He said he aggravated an injury sustained May 19 in a doubleheader against the Padres. "After my first at-bat, it was pretty tough to throw the ball back," Cota said. "After that first at-bat, to be honest with you, I couldn't breathe at all." ... Cardinals C Cody McKay got his first start since May 13 and was 0-for-3 to drop his average to .088 (3-for-34). But McKay threw out one of two runners attempting to steal, making him 5-for-7 on the season.

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