<
>

Cardinals rally twice to edge Brewers in opener

3/31/2003

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Scott Rolen's first opening day in St. Louis
was forgettable, until the eighth inning.

Rolen made up for a costly error with a three-run homer that
capped a six-run rally, and the Cardinals held on to beat the
Milwaukee Brewers 11-9 Monday.

"Things weren't going too smoothly for a while,'' Rolen said.
"You just have to keep your head up.''

In Milwaukee's first game under new manager Ned Yost, the NL
Central champion Cardinals trailed 4-0 and 7-5 before rallying
against a team that finished a franchise-worst 56-106 last year.

Kerry Robinson, who secured the final spot on the Cardinals'
roster earlier in the day, drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out
drag bunt off loser Mike DeJean. Rolen, obtained from Philadelphia
last July, homered two batters later for an 11-7 lead.

Rolen was 0-for-3 with a walk before his big hit, on the first
pitch from DeJean.

"That's a situation as a little kid you always want to be in --
opening day, the seventh game of the World Series, anytime you get
that opportunity,'' Rolen said. "You can't waste opportunities
like that. I had a pretty good feeling when that ball left my
bat.''

Milwaukee had intentionally walked cleanup hitter Albert Pujols
to pitch to Rolen.

"They had an open base, and Albert has proven himself the last
two years,'' Rolen said. "I don't think I'd want to pitch to him,
either.''

Richie Sexson made it close with a two-run homer in the ninth
against Cal Eldred. With Jason Isringhausen on the disabled list,
Steve Kline got two outs for the save.

"It was exciting, it was fun,'' Yost said. "It was a great
game, and our guys battled all the way until the end.''

Milwaukee led 7-5 in the eighth before pinch-hitter Orlando
Palmeiro's RBI triple on Luis Vizcaino's first pitch. Fernando Vina
then tied it with a run-scoring double off the base of the wall in
right-center on the first pitch from DeJean, who converted his
final 15 save chances last season.

"I just didn't make quality pitches,'' DeJean said.

Manager Tony La Russa said his decision to keep Robinson on the
team instead of Japanese outfielder So Taguchi was justified by the
results. Robinson, who replaced Jim Edmonds in the fifth, also made
a nice running catch at the warning track on a drive by Jeffrey
Hammonds with two on and two outs in the seventh.

"What he did today, that's why he got the nod,'' La Russa said.
"That play he made in center field might have saved the game for
us.''

Rolen, a four-time Gold Glove at third base, had allowed
Milwaukee to go ahead in the seventh. With the Cardinals leading
5-4, Alex Sanchez hit a tying sacrifice fly and Rolen dropped John
Vander Wal's grounder, allowing Scott Podsednik to score from
third.

Eddie Perez homered in the eighth off winner Russ Springer,
Perez' 25th career homer but first since Sept. 26, 1999, at
Montreal.

Morris, 17-9 last season, allowed six runs -- five earned -- and
eight hits in seven innings.

"Nerves,'' Morris said. "It was the first time out, back in
the action.''

Milwaukee's Ben Sheets gave up three runs -- two earned -- and
five hits in five innings. It was the second opening-day start for
Sheets, 11-16 last season.

"I had trouble throwing where I wanted to, but I battled,''
Sheets said. "I'm not real disappointed.''

Royce Clayton was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer and double for
the Brewers.

St. Louis trailed 4-0 after three innings. Tino Martinez hit a
two-run homer in the fourth and St. Louis scored twice in the sixth
to take a 5-4 lead, with Edgar Renteria hitting a go-ahead double.

Game notes
Cardinals CF Jim Edmonds was taken out for a pinch runner
after singling in the fifth. Edmonds played in the field for the
first time since injuring his left calf on March 7. ... St. Louis
RF Eli Marrero hurt his hip in a collision with 2B Fernando Vina on
a short pop fly in the sixth and was down for several minutes, but
stayed in the game. ... Martinez didn't hit his first home run last
season, his first in St. Louis, until he hit two on May 1 against
the Marlins. ... The Brewers opened on the road for the eighth
straight year.