Ward wins big in Pirates’ victory
ST. LOUIS — After an off day, a rainout and another 80-minute weather delay, the Pirates finally were able to take the field Wednesday night for the first time in three days.
For first baseman Daryle Ward, it turned out to be worth the wait.
Ward became the 20th player in Pirates history to hit for the cycle when he spearheaded the Pirates’ 11-8 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Ward hit a two-run double in the first inning, drew a walk in the third, tripled home a run in the fourth and hit a three-run homer in the fifth. He batted again in the seventh, but popped out to third.
Needing a single in the ninth inning to complete the rare feat, Ward bounced Steve Kline’s 0-2 pitch over first baseman Albert Pujols’ head and into right field.
“That was a tough situation,” Ward said. “I said, ‘Just hang in there.’ Kline has a good sinker and slider. He threw me a sinker, and I chopped it over his head. That’s one of the craziest base hits I’ve ever gotten. I don’t chop too many balls.”
To get the cycle, Ward also needed his third career triple and first since Sept. 30, 2000. The line drive bounced off the glove of right fielder Reggie Sanders and rolled toward center. Ward went into third standing up.
“It worked out perfect for a guy with my speed,” he said, laughing.
Ward also needed a sixth plate appearance, something he didn’t think was possible after making the third out in the seventh.
“I was hoping to get one more shot but I didn’t know if it would happen,” Ward said. “I was talking to (Jim) Edmonds on first base and he said he was praying for me to get another chance because he’d never seen anyone hit for the cycle.
“I want to thank him for that. It was pretty cool.”
Jason Kendall was the last Pirates player to hit for the cycle, doing it May 19, 2000 against the Cardinals. The last left-handed hitter to get the cycle was Mike Easler, who did it June 12, 1980 at Cincinnati.
Ward tied a career high with six RBI and has 16 in 12 games with the Pirates.
“I don’t think anybody expected him to be as productive as he has been in the short span he’s been here,” Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We were hoping to get lightning in a bottle.”
The top three batters in the order — Kendall, Jack Wilson and Ward — combined for 11 of the Pirates’ 19 hits, nine runs and seven RBI.
Kendall went 3 for 5 to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. He also walked and scored three runs. Wilson went 4 for 6 with a double, RBI and three runs scored.
Craig Wilson, Rob Mackowiak, Jason Bay and Hill drove in the other runs for the Pirates.
The Pirate also broke a lengthy drought with runners in scoring position, going 8 for 21. The eight hits were a season high for a team that was hitless in its past 27 at-bats with runners in scoring position and 3 for 46 in the previous five games.
Ward’s three-run shot was his sixth homer for the Pirates and spotted Kris Benson a seemingly comfortable10-2 lead through five innings.
The Cardinals, however, came back with a run in the sixth and four in the seventh to make things interesting.
Benson (4-3) was lifted with one out in the seventh, two runners aboard and the Pirates holding a 10-5 lead. Sanders and Mike Matheny had RBI singles off Salomon Torres. With the tying run at the plate, John Grabow got Roger Cedeno to ground out to Bobby Hill third.
Hill was making his second career start at third. He handled four chances flawlessly before Chris Stynes replaced him in the eighth.
Bay’s sacrifice fly in the eighth gave the Pirates an 11-7 lead. The Cardinals scored a run in the ninth off closer Jose Mesa.
Cardinals starter Jason Marquis (3-4) gave up the first six runs, allowing nine hits and four walks in four innings.
Benson won for the first time in four starts since April 30. He allowed 11 hits and seven runs while throwing 119 pitches in 61/3 innings.
He gave up an RBI single to Marquis in the second, a leadoff homer to Edmonds in the third and RBI single to Edgar Renteria in the sixth. Scott Rolen added a two-run single in the seventh, and Benson was replaced after walking John Mabry.
“I was trying to get one more inning out of him,” McClendon said. “He just ran out of gas.”