Cardinals 9, Giants 5

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ST. LOUIS (AP)—The St. Louis Cardinals took three days of frustration out on Kirk Rueter.

Albert Pujols and Edgar Renteria hit three-run homers off Rueter in an eight-run second inning as the Cardinals beat the San Francisco Giants 9-5 Thursday to avoid a four-game sweep.

“Most of the first three days you’ve just got to give their pitchers credit for making quality pitches at the right time,” manager Tony La Russa said. “I really thought the club geared up to salvage something.”

The Giants were trying to complete the franchise’s first four-game sweep at St. Louis since the great Christy Mathewson finished off the Cardinals on May 9, 1912.

Instead, the Cardinals roughed up Rueter, with Pujols and Scott Rolen hitting consecutive homers in the second to cap a burst that included Renteria’s shot.

Entering the game, Rueter had allowed five homers in 17 starts.

“I left some pitches up,” Rueter said. “Usually, I try not to give up home runs, and they get three in one inning.”

Barry Bonds got the afternoon off for the Giants, a day after hitting two home runs. The Giants have not swept any series in St. Louis since July 1987.

Rueter, who lives in nearby Hoyleton, Ill., had one of the worst outings of his career. He had been 5-0 with a 2.28 ERA in nine starts in St. Louis, but gave up eight runs on nine hits in only three innings.

The runs allowed matched a career worst for Rueter (7-3), who fell to 9-4 for his career against the Cardinals with a 3.22 ERA. This was his first loss to St. Louis since July 22, 1998; he had been 4-0 against the Cardinals since then.

The Cardinals erupted in the second, with singles by Rolen and Eduardo Perez starting the inning and Renteria following with a home run.

Bo Hart squeezed home another run in the inning, the Cardinals’ biggest this season.

In the first three games of the series, the Cardinals totaled three runs on 19 hits, scoring one run each game. Pujols, Rolen, Renteria and Jim Edmonds were a collective 5-for-44 the first three games but combined for five hits, seven RBIs and five runs in the finale.

Pujols, who was 1-for-12 the first three games of the series, added a sacrifice fly for a four-RBI day.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with our offense, I think we just ran into some pretty good pitching,” Rolen said. “Today we took some good at-bats, got some good swings, got some balls to fall and got some big hits.”

Jason Simontacchi (6-4) entered the game with a 6.57 ERA and his spot in the rotation in jeopardy. He allowed only two hits the first five innings before tiring, and left with his status still unclear.

Rookie Dan Haren, who was impressive in his major league debut on Monday, could take Simontacchi’s spot. La Russa has said Haren will make two more starts before the All-Star break, but he wouldn’t say who would get bumped.

One of the things the Cardinals are considering is a six-man rotation for a short time.

“It is worth considering,” La Russa said. “The problem is that gives us a three-man right-handed bullpen, which is not real good.

“I guess we’ll give it a little intrigue, a little suspense.”

J.T. Snow had an RBI double and Jose Cruz Jr. had a two-run homer in the sixth.

Simontacchi was lifted after giving up two hits to open the seventh, and both runners came home on a single by pinch-hitter Neifi Perez against Lance Painter.

“I’m very disappointed in myself the last two innings, leaving pitches up and getting behind in the count,” Simontacchi said. “I did the exact opposite of what I did the first five innings.”

The Cardinals added a run in the sixth on Hart’s leadoff double, a single byEdmonds and a sacrifice fly by Pujols.


Rueter’s last two outings are his shortest of the season. He gave up six runs, five earned, on eight hits in four innings June 28 against the Athletics. … RF Eduardo Perez made a diving catch to snare Edgardo Alfonzo’s drive to the gap to end the second. … Pujols had been 1-for-10 against Rueter before his homer. … The Cardinals had consecutive hits only once the first three games of the series, but did it three times in the second inning Thursday. … Snow was removed for a pinch hitter in the seventh innings because both legs were cramping due to the 91-degree heat. Snow was activatedfrom the DL Thursday after a groin injury.

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