S T. L O U I S, Oct. 3, 2000 -- The Cardinals opened the playoffs with a wildwin, beating the bumbling Atlanta Braves despite the mostout-of-control pitching in the major leagues in more than acentury.
Rick Ankiel, a surprise Game 1 starter for St. Louis, became thefirst pitcher in 110 years to throw five wild pitches in oneinning, but St. Louis held on to a six-run, first-inning lead andbeat the Braves 7-5 today.
With the help of two errors and a fly ball center fielder AndruwJones apparently lost in the sun, St. Louis got its first fivebatters on in the first. against Greg Maddux, who dropped to 10-11in postseason play.
Record for Runs in Opening Inning
Placido Polanco, who went 3-for-4, hit a two-run single as theCardinals tied a postseason record for runs in the opening inning.Jim Edmonds added a home run in the fourth.
Atlanta made three errors in all, contributing to two unearnedruns, just two days after Chipper Jones’ ninth-inning error costthe defending NL champions home-field advantage in the first round.
Mike James relieved Ankiel and got the final out of the third,then pitched two more innings for the win. Dave Veres worked theninth for the save, allowing an RBI single to Brian Jordan, who hadthree hits.
After a day off Wednesday, the series resumes with Darryl Kilepitching for St. Louis against Tom Glavine in a matchup of the NL’sonly 20-game winners, then travels to Atlanta for the weekend.
Ankiel, a 21-year-old rookie, originally was to pitch later inthe series, but Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa made the switchMonday.
Given the 6-0 lead, he stumbled in the third and became only thesecond pitcher in major league history to throw five wild pitchesin an inning. On Sept. 15, 1890, Bert Cunningham did it for Buffaloof the Players League in the first inning of the second game of adoubleheader.
All but one of Ankiel’s wild pitches were fastballs, most ofthem high over the head of catcher Carlos Hernandez. The fifth wasa curve that bounced about five feet in front of the plate.
Hernandez also made a leaping grab to prevent what would havebeen another.
Ankiel, scheduled to pitch again in Game 4 on Sunday, threw 12wild pitches in 175 regular-season innings. More than half (34) ofhis 66 pitches Tuesday were balls.
Maddux lasted four innings, giving up seven runs — five earned —and nine hits.
Atlanta was just 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position,while St. Louis was 3-for-15.
Mark McGwire, limited to one plate appearance per game becauseof knee pain, pinch hit in the eighth and was intentionally walkedby Kerry Ligtenberg.
St. Louis, which took a 3-1 lead against Atlanta in the 1996 NLchampionship series and then lost three straight, quickly gotahead.
Fernando Vina reached on an infield single leading off, J.D.Drew singled and Edmonds’ fly ball dropped next to Andruw Jones asthe game’s first run scored.
Will Clark’s single made it 2-0 and Ray Lankford reached whenhis grounder bounced off the glove of third baseman Chipper Jones,allowing another run to score.
After a sacrifice and an intentional walk, Placido Polanco hit atwo-run single to center and advanced to second when Andruw Jones’throw home hit the mound.
Catcher Paul Bako allowed another run to score when he threwwildly to second, trying to catch Polanco going for the extra base.
Third Inning Gets Crazy
The third was even wilder.
Ankiel opened the inning with a four-pitch walk to Maddux, thenthrew a fifth ball before getting a visit from pitching coach DaveDuncan.
La Russa didn’t start warming up a reliever until Brian Jordan,the sixth batter of the inning, hit an RBI single.
Andruw Jones scored on the first wild pitch, Jordan hit an RBIsingle, and Walt Weiss had a two-run single.
Cardinals rookie Britt Reames, an unexpected member of thepostseason staff, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh when hegot Reggie Sanders on a popout and pinch-hitter Bobby Bonilla on agroundout.