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Cardinals win wooly opener

Capitalizing on Braves' sloppiness, St. Louis ties record for runs in first en route to 7-5 victory.

©Associated Press

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 4, 2000

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals opened the playoffs with a wild win, beating the bumbling Atlanta Braves despite the most out-of-control pitching in more than a century.

Rick Ankiel, a surprise Game 1 starter for St. Louis, became the first pitcher in 110 years to throw five wild pitches in one inning, but St. Louis held on to a six-run, first-inning lead and beat the Braves 7-5 Tuesday.

With the help of two errors and a fly ball Gold Glove centerfielder Andruw Jones apparently lost in the sun, St. Louis got its first five batters on against Greg Maddux, who dropped to 10-11 in post-season play.

"A crazy inning where things kind of went haywire," Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone said. "I guess that's the best way to describe it."

Placido Polanco, who went 3-for-4, hit a two-run single as the Cardinals tied a post-season record for runs in the first inning. Jim Edmonds homered in the fourth.

Atlanta made three errors that contributed to two unearned runs two days after Chipper Jones' ninth-inning error cost the defending NL champions home-field advantage in the first round.

"A couple of mistakes cost us," outfielder Brian Jordan said.

Mike James relieved Ankiel and got the final out of the third, then pitched two more innings for the win. Dave Veres worked the ninth for the save, allowing a run-scoring single to Jordan.

"I don't care about the save," Veres said. "I wanted us to score four or five more runs in the eighth."

The series resumes Thursday with Darryl Kile facing Atlanta's Tom Glavine in a matchup of the NL's only 20-game winners.

Atlanta was 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position, and St. Louis was 3-for-15.

Mark McGwire, limited to one plate appearance per game because of knee pain, pinch hit in the eighth and was walked intentionally by Kerry Ligtenberg.

St. Louis, which took a 3-1 lead against Atlanta in the 1996 NL Championship Series, then lost three straight, quickly got ahead.

Fernando Vina reached on an infield single leading off, J.D. Drew singled and Edmonds' fly ball dropped next to Andruw Jones as the first run scored.

Will Clark's single made it 2-0 and Ray Lankford reached when his grounder bounced off the glove of third baseman Chipper Jones, allowing another run to score.

After a sacrifice and an intentional walk, Polanco hit a two-run single to center and advanced to second when Jones' throw home hit the mound.

Catcher Paul Bako let in another run when he threw wildly to second, trying to catch Polanco going for the extra base.

Cardinals rookie Britt Reames, an unexpected member of thepost-season staff, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh when he got Reggie Sanders on a popout and pinch-hitter Bobby Bonilla on a groundout.

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