<
>

Ludwick's three-run homer sparks Cardinals' victory

• Streak rolls on: Juan Encarnacion was 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 17 games. He also scored twice.

• Close-scoring series: The Cardinals took two of three games from the A's, but St. Louis outscored Oakland 28-26 in the series.

• Figure this: Oakland made three errors in a game for the fourth time this year and first since May 13.

• Quotable: "It's nice. Any time you can get back at your old team, there's
a little extra emotion behind it. The most important part is getting two out of three here, coming back home .500 on the road trip. It's big for us. Hopefully we can keep the ball rolling." -- Ludwick

-- ESPN.com news services

Cardinals 10, Athletics 6

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- A night earlier, Ryan Ludwick was one of
only two St. Louis starters without a hit. His timing couldn't have
been better Sunday -- against his former organization no less.

Ludwick hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning
and drove in a career-high five runs, leading the Cardinals to
their first interleague series win in four tries this season with a
10-6 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

Ludwick added a two-run single in the eighth, his career-high
tying third hit of the game.

"It's nice. Any time you can get back at your old team, there's
a little extra emotion behind it," Ludwick said. "The most
important part is getting two out of three here, coming back home
.500 on the road trip. It's big for us. Hopefully we can keep the
ball rolling."

Colby Lewis (0-2) allowed three straight singles to start the
seventh before Ludwick's high drive landed in the elevated seats in
left-center for his third homer. Lewis' streak of 24 straight
retired batters ended on Albert Pujols' base hit up the middle to
start the rally. The 28-year-old Ludwick was drafted in the second
round by Oakland in 1999 but never played for the A's in the
majors.

The Cardinals' comeback kept Anthony Reyes from becoming the
first St. Louis pitcher to lose nine straight decisions to start a
season since Danny Jackson did it from April 27 to July 2, 1995.

Reyes, the winner in Game 1 of the World Series against Detroit
last fall who is 0-8 this year, was called up Saturday from
Triple-A Memphis to make his 10th start of 2007.

He plunked two batters in the A's five-run first inning, but got
a 1-2-3 second and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third. The
right-hander has lost 10 straight regular-season decisions dating
to his last win on Sept. 3, 2006, against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He lost his final two decisions of 2006 and went winless in his
last four outings of last year.

"I wasn't nervous, just a different setting, different from
pitching up here than down there," Reyes said. "It'll take a
little time to get comfortable again and I'll try my best to grind
it out."

Russ Springer (3-0) struck out two in a perfect sixth to win for
the second time in as many days.

Juan Encarnacion extended his hitting streak to 17 games -- a
Cardinals' season high -- with a single in the seventh. He grounded
out with the bases loaded to end the fourth, when St. Louis scored
twice to pull within 5-4. Scott Spiezio hit a solo homer in the
first and So Taguchi added a fourth-inning RBI single to give him a
10-game hitting streak.

A's designated hitter Jack Cust received a vote of confidence
before the game, then showed his Oakland bosses exactly why they
should keep him in the mix.

Cust hit a three-run homer for his first longball this month
after the team announced that Mike Piazza will be brought back from
the disabled list as a catcher and a DH in order to keep giving
Cust chances.

Cust connected with one out in the first for his ninth homer of
the year and first since May 19, and Bobby Crosby had a pair of RBI
doubles for Oakland.

But the A's typically reliable defense and pitching didn't get
it done.

"This team is known for its pitching and it kept us in tons of
games," Cust said. "It's surprising when we're used to what
usually goes on, but you're not going to go out and give up (only)
two runs every game."

The A's brass met after the game to talk about potential moves
with the pitching staff, which is still missing injured starter
Rich Harden, closer Huston Street and righty reliever Justin
Duchscherer.

Crosby and Jason Kendall each doubled in runs in the first to
stake Joe Kennedy to a big lead. Cust also doubled in the fourth
and singled leading off the seventh for his third straight
three-hit game. He's the 11th player in Oakland history to do it
and the first since Scott Hatteberg -- coming to town with the
Cincinnati Reds on Monday -- from April 8-10, 2003, at Texas.

The A's delayed the scheduled start of Piazza's rehab assignment
Sunday with Triple-A Sacramento to give him more time to get his
arm in shape so he can catch. The 38-year-old Piazza has been
sidelined since May 3 with a sprained right shoulder.

This was the most competitive game of the three after a 15-6
Cardinals victory Saturday a night after the A's won the series
opener 14-3.

For defending World Series champion St. Louis, this series was a
positive step.

"We're not in a great position," Cardinals manager Tony La
Russa said. "We've got more problems than pluses, but I wouldn't
count us out."

Game notes
The A's dropped their first series since May 25-27 at
Baltimore. ... Oakland made three errors in a game for the fourth
time this year and first since May 13. ... A's third baseman Eric
Chavez missed his second straight game with soreness on the left
side of his rib cage area. Marco Scutaro played in Chavez's place
for the second straight day. ... The A's drew a sellout crowd of
35,077, including 1,000 standing-room only tickets.