Pineiro limits Reds#8217; chances

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — The Cincinnati Reds ran themselves into an unusual double play in the first inning. Joel Pineiro gave them few chances after that.

Pineiro ended with seven innings of one-hit ball, letting his defense take care of several hard-hit shots, and the St. Louis Cardinals jumped on rookie Johnny Cueto early in a 7-2 victory on Tuesday night.

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‘‘It was the third or fourth time where we’ve had runners on second and third with one out and haven’t gotten the run home and then things turned badly,’’ Reds manager Dusty Baker said. ‘‘We score early, and you don’t know what could have happened.’’

Troy Glaus and Rick Ankiel combined for four hits and five RBIs their first two at-bats for the Cardinals, who scored three runs in the first and four in the second. Skip Schumaker tied his career best with four hits and Albert Pujols was 0-for-4 to end a nine-game hitting streak, but walked off Josh Fogg in the eighth and has reached base safely in all 28 games.

The Cardinals, lightly regarded entering the season for the first time this decade, are 17-11 and tied the franchise record for wins in April.

‘‘It’s good to get early success and have a little extra confidence,’’ manager Tony La Russa said. ‘‘This is a tough-minded bunch. Nobody’s going to celebrate, we’re in it for the long haul and I’m telling you, this is going to be a very tough division.’’

Cueto (1-3) allowed seven runs, six earned, on eight hits in only 1 2-3 innings in his sixth career start. The 22-year-old right-hander worked at least six innings in each of his first five starts, including seven innings three times, but was behind 3-0 after retiring one batter and departed with a 5.40 ERA.

‘‘He was just behind in the count, which was surprising for him,’’ catcher Paul Bako said. ‘‘He was wild in the zone and you just chalk it up to one of those days.

‘‘It wasn’t his day or our day, the way we swung the bats and had nothing to show for it.’’

Ken Griffey Jr., who needs three homers to become the sixth player to reach 600, was 0-for-4 and hasn’t homered in six games. He was misidentified on a scoreboard graphic his first at-bat, with a different Reds left-handed hitter that might have been Dan Driessen shown instead, although in subsequent at-bats his mug shot was used.

Griffey thought it might have been Norris Hopper with the image reversed, and noted ‘‘I haven’t worn Franklin batting gloves since ’92.’’ Team spokesman Rob Butcher guessed that it was Dewayne Wise, who played for the Reds the previous two seasons, in a spring training game.

Pineiro (2-2) gave up a leadoff single to Corey Patterson in the first and issued three of his four walks in the first two innings, then retired the last 12 batters in order, striking out three in seven innings. He benefited from an unusual double play to escape damage in the first when both Patterson and Jeff Keppinger were caught in rundowns.

Patterson got stuck in no man’s land running for home on Brandon Phillips’ one-out grounder to third with runners on second and third. Patterson kept the rundown going long enough for Keppinger to advance to third and Phillips made it to second, but when catcher Yadier Molina headed for third to tag out Patterson, he stepped off the bag and Keppinger mistakenly retreated for second and was quickly tagged out.

There were six exchanges on the play with Molina handling the ball twice and right fielder Schumaker also participating.

‘‘That was the thing that changed the whole game around,’’ Pineiro said. ‘‘A lucky play, that crazy double play that happened. I didn’t even know how to score that, there were so many people in it, but it was a big play for us.’’

Pineiro has allowed one run on five hits in his last two starts, covering 14 innings.

The Reds were stuck on one hit with two outs in the ninth when Phillips singled off Anthony Reyes and Adam Dunn followed with his fourth homer to straightaway center.

Glaus circled the bases on a two-run double to left-center in the fourth, taking off from second when left fielder Dunn lost his grip on the ball and the relay dribbled mere feet away. Ankiel also doubled in the fourth, his third hit, to match a career high.

Notes: Glaus has 12 doubles, tied with Edgar Renteria (2003) for most in April for the Cardinals dating to 1956. He has only one home run, but his 21 RBIs is second best in his career behind 24 in 2002. … The 2006 and 2000 Cardinals teams also won 17 games in April. … Dunn and Griffey both have six homers at 3-year-old Busch Stadium, tied for the team lead.