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Rolen muscles one out; St. Louis wins series

5/20/2004

NEW YORK (AP) -- Scott Rolen was leading the major leagues in
RBI without hitting a home run for nearly month. He had 14
multihit games and was hitting a cool .350. But the longball was
missing in action.

No more.

Rolen hit his first homer in 24 games, a two-run shot in a
six-run ninth inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the New
York Mets 11-4 Thursday.

"I thought he hit three homers today," manager Tony La Russa
said. "I wrote down three."

The Mets denied Rolen of the other two.

Karim Garcia leaped and reached over the right-field fence to
rob him of a homer in the fifth inning.

"He made a great play," Rolen said.

Then Cliff Floyd went to the left-field fence for another Rolen
rocket in the seventh and turned it into a double play, when his
relay caught Albert Pujols retreating to first base.

Finally, in the ninth, Rolen hit his ninth of the season, a
relief after the long dry spell.

"We're trying to win series," Rolen said. "You look back. We
won two out of three in New York You can't ask for more."

Rolen had three hits in the first game, doubled home the only
run in the second and then ended the homerless streak in the third.
Not a bad series.

"He's been that way every day," La Russa said. "What's today?
May 20? He's been that way for six weeks."

So Taguchi had four hits, driving in two runs and scoring two
more for the Cardinals, who recovered after losing a game in the
ninth inning on Tuesday. Taguchi, who was on base five times,
doubled home a run in the fourth inning to tie the score, singled
home another in the sixth as the Cardinals moved ahead to stay and
doubled and scored in the ninth.

"He had an outstanding game," La Russa said of Taguchi, who
played 10 years in Japan before coming to America two years ago.
"He's as fundamentally sound as anybody. He plays the game exactly
right. He's a good player."

Rolen's homer touched off the Cardinals' wrapup rally. St. Louis
batted around and broke the game open with six runs behind three
New York errors and a lost flyball in the sun.

The Cards took the lead in the sixth when Jim Edmonds opened
with a single and went to third on a double by Reggie Sanders. That
finished Jae Seo (2-4) and Orber Moreno relieved. Taguchi singled
off Moreno, scoring Edmonds and then Sanders scored when third
baseman Todd Zeile bobbled Mike Matheny's groundball.

The Cardinals added a run in the eighth when Taguchi singled,
and then put it away in the ninth on Rolen's homer off David
Weathers, a two-run double by Matheny and an RBI single from Edgar
Renteria.

Ray Lankford scored the final run when Pujols reached on an
error for the second time in the inning -- one each by first baseman
Mike Piazza and Zeile.

Shortstop Kaz Matsui was also charged with an error on a bad
throw, and Mike Cameron fell to his knees in center field when he
lost Taguchi's fly in the sun. Taguchi was given a double.

Zeile supplied the Mets with the early lead, hitting a two-run
homer in the first inning after Matsui beat out an infield single.

Zeile was a surprise starter after taking eight stitches in his
right ear Wednesday night. He was injured when he was hit by second
baseman Tony Womack on a slide in the seventh inning.

The Cardinals got even in the fourth. Pujols hit his 10th home
run for the first hit against Seo. With two outs, Edmonds walked
and Sanders singled. Then Taguchi doubled to right, tying the score
at 2-2.

The Mets regained the lead in the fourth when Vance Wilson
doubled, Cameron singled and Danny Garcia walked, loading the bases
with none out. Cardinals starter Jason Marquis (3-3) got two
strikes on Seo and then hit him with a pitch, forcing in a run. It
was Seo's first major league RBI.

Marquis pitched out of trouble several times. He gave up hits to
Floyd and Piazza following Zeile's homer in the first but got a
double-play ball to escape the jam. The Mets had the bases loaded
with none out after scoring in the fourth but Marquis got Matsui,
Zeile and Floyd. In the fifth, he stranded two more Mets, getting
Garcia for the third out.

Game notes
Marquis hit two Mets batters, Floyd in the third and Seo
in the fourth. ... The Mets placed pitcher Al Leiter on the 15-day
disabled list retroactive to May 12. Leiter missed his last start
because of left shoulder tendinitis and received a cortisone shot
earlier this week.