Bannister helps Royals avoid Cards sweep

BY foxsports • May 24, 2009

The St. Louis Cardinals' stingy pitching run is over and so is their five-game winning streak. Not that the Kansas City Royals exactly clobbered Joel Pineiro.

Brian Bannister worked six strong innings and drove in a run and pinch-hitter Mike Jacobs' RBI single snapped a seventh-inning tie, helping the Royals avoid a three-game sweep in the I-70 interleague series with a 3-2 victory on Sunday.

"Their staff has obviously been on a roll, the same way we were a couple weeks ago," Bannister said. "I made pitches when I had to, kept the ball on the ground and then was able to get around (Albert) Pujols."

Pujols was walked intentionally twice on Sunday, once with two out and none on in the seventh, and drew seven walks in the series.

The Royals ended a 24-inning scoreless drought and finally got to a staff that shut them out 5-0 each of the first two games. Kansas City, which has only two pinch-hit RBIs all season, has won only five of its last 15 games.

Manager Trey Hillman said a first-inning run "took the monkey off our back, no doubt."

"We still only scored a few more," Hillman added, "but it was enough."

The Cardinals entered the finale with a five-game winning streak behind stingy starters who allowed only one run in 36 2-3 innings. Even with Sunday's loss they've allowed five runs in six games for the first time since Sept. 14-18, 1982.

The run began with Pineiro's three-hit shutout of the Cubs on Tuesday and ended when Pineiro (5-4) allowed three runs in seven innings on Sunday to offset a rare RBI single from the .090-hitting pitcher. Pineiro worked his fourth straight game without a walk and emphasized a sinker that produced 14 groundball outs, but fell to 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA in four starts at home this season.

"I hung a changeup to Jacobs and that was the ballgame to me," Pineiro said. "Everything else was fine. Everything was working."

Bannister's hit was not nearly as surprising as Pineiro's, given he's 7 for 21 for his career with three RBIs after his hit in the fifth made it 2-0. Pineiro improved to 10 for 110 with seven RBIs after his full-count single lofted just out of the reach of shortstop Willie Bloomquist and tied it at 2 in the sixth.

The Royals' scoring drought ended in the first on two-out hits by Billy Butler and Jose Guillen, and they went ahead 2-0 on Bannister's RBI single in the fifth.

Bannister (4-1) allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings and the Cardinals totaled one hit off three relievers with Juan Cruz working the ninth for his second save in four chances and first since April 30. The Royals are 9 for 16 in save chances, but only 2 for 9 without injured closer Joakim Soria, and this was first overall since May 7 against the Mariners.

"I think it gave everybody a sigh of relief down there," Hillman said.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa allowed Pineiro to hit with two on and two out in the sixth because of a low pitch count and Pineiro surprised with his RBI single, but the Royals knocked him out with a two-out rally in the seventh. Eighth-place hitter Bloomquist legged out a double after rookie center fielder Colby Rasmus took his time getting the ball in and scored on Jacobs' drive off the base of the wall in right.

"I had him shaded a little bit to left, went over to get it and he was gone," Rasmus said.


The Royals had been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 12-13 at the Chicago White Sox. ... The Cardinals haven't posted three straight shutouts since Sept. 6-8, 1988, with the first against the Expos and the last two against the Phillies. The last time they threw consecutive shutouts was Aug. 27-28, 2005, at Washington, with a complete game by Jason Marquis and a bullpen game with Cal Eldred, Brad Thompson, Julian Tavarez, Al Reyes and Ray King. ... Rasmus was 1 for 13 in the series with a two-out double in the ninth his lone hit. ... Pujols leads the majors with 11 intentional walks, four in the series.

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