A's bullpen fails Hudson

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals took advantage of the
Oakland Athletics' short-handed bullpen for their first
ninth-inning comeback of the season.

Pinch-hitter Reggie Sanders capped a three-run rally with a
game-winning single that gave the Cardinals a 5-4 victory and a
sweep of a three-game series between division leaders Thursday

"The early part of the year, we weren't able to win those late
games," Sanders said. "Everything is clicking right now.

"Coming back like that against a good team like that is a good

The Cardinals have won 13 of 17 and cooled the Athletics, who
entered the series with a season-best, eight-game winning streak in
which they averaged 10 runs. Oakland totaled just 10 runs in the

St. Louis had been 0-24 when trailing in the ninth.

"We have so many clutch players, so many guys that are
ninth-inning guys, that it's the first time we've reversed it,"
manager Tony La Russa said. "We should do it as much as anybody
because we've got a lot of pressure, clutch guys."

The Cardinals ruined a strong effort by Tim Hudson, who threw 7
1-3 strong innings. Stand-in closer Jim Mecir (0-5), thrust into
the role with Arthur Rhodes on a two-day personal leave, was
victimized in the ninth.

"We're ahead by two runs and I couldn't even get an out,"
Mecir said. "It's just embarrassing. There's nothing else really
to say about what kind of pitches or what."

With Oakland leading 4-2, Edgar Renteria and Cody McKay opened
the inning with singles, and Ray Lankford was hit by a pitch to
load the bases with nobody out. A's second baseman Marco Scutaro
booted Marlon Anderson's grounder to allow two runs to score.

Sanders lost the grip of his bat on a 2-1 pitch, and it sailed
right past a ducking Mecir. On the next pitch, he singled to
center, making Sanders 4-for-7 with five RBI as a pinch-hitter.

"I'm going to go in there and kid him that we're not starting
him anymore," La Russa said. "You can never go wrong having
Reggie available late in the game."

Ray King (1-0) got the last out in the top of the ninth for St.

Jim Edmonds had an RBI double, and Tony Womack added a sacrifice
fly for the Cardinals, who completed a three-game sweep for only
the third time in eight chances. St. Louis overcame a miserable
game by second baseman Marlon Anderson, playing on a day off for
Womack, who had two errors and a pair of mental miscues.

Hudson allowed two runs on eight hits, and has given up only
three runs in 23 1-3 innings his last three starts. He struck out
five and walked three.

"Obviously those guys want to get the job done, but for some
reason it's been a struggle," Hudson said. "It's hard to say why
it happens but it has been and it's just something we've got to
somehow get past."

The A's bullpen was also missing left-hander Chris Hammond, who
was unavailable due to a shoulder problem.

Hudson has worked seven or more innings in 12 of 14 appearances
this year. He pitched on five days' rest for the eighth time, and
is 5-0 in those games with a 1.72 ERA.

Anderson had a tough inning in the Athletics' three-run fifth
against Suppan that produced a 4-0 lead. Anderson got in the way of
shortstop Renteria and failed to run down Dye's pop fly in shallow
center that dropped for an RBI single, and he threw wildly on a
double-play relay that allowed a second run to score.

In the first, Anderson failed to cover the bag on what would
have been a forceout grounder to short that turned into an infield
hit for Scott Hatteberg.

And his wild throw in the fourth on a grounder by Adam Melhuse
deflected off the glove of first baseman Albert Pujols. The ball
struck Suppan's cap and then hit him above the left eye.

Thereafter, the home crowd gave a facetious cheer whenever
Anderson made a routine play.

Suppan lasted five innings and gave up four runs -- three earned
-- on eight hits. He's 5-0 with a 2.09 ERA on the road and 1-5 with
a 5.13 ERA at home.

Mark McLemore had an RBI double earlier in the fifth for the
A's. Dye's sacrifice fly in the first gave the A's the early lead.

Game notes
Cardinals 3B Scott Rolen made an outstanding defensive play
in the fourth, ranging far to his left to snare Scutaro's smash and
then throwing to second from the seat of his pants for a force out.
... Hatteberg was 2-for-4 and has reached base in 26 straight
games, batting .366 during that stretch (34-for-93). He also leads
the majors with 19 RBI this month. ... Hudson hasn't allowed a
homer in seven straight starts, a streak of 57 1-3 innings.