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Finley overcomes shaky start to win NL debut with CardsPosted: Sunday July 21, 2002 4:50 PM
Updated: Sunday July 21, 2002 6:17 PM
Finley overcame a shaky beginning by getting the offensive support he seldom got in Cleveland, with Albert Pujols homering and driving in four runs in St. Louis' 8-4 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Finley (1-0) wasn't dazzling in his first NL start following 17 seasons in the AL, giving back a three-run lead before leaving after allowing four runs, three earned, in six innings.
After being dealt Friday in a three-player trade, Finley said he was looking forward to exactly what he got Sunday -- a lot of runs. Finley, 4-11 with Cleveland, got an average of only 2.9 runs of support over his last 15 Indians starts.
Shortly after the first of two brief bench-clearing incidents, Finley helped himself to one of the Cardinals' 14 hits with a double off Josh Fogg (10-7) in the fourth for his first hit in 27 career at-bats. The 39-year-old Finley scored on Fernando Vina's single, putting the Cardinals ahead to stay at 5-4.
"We came out scoring runs and we kept adding on," Finley said. "I like what I've seen of this team in the two days I've been here. When you look around and see very good players all around you, it really picks you up."
By winning their 11th in 17 games, the Cardinals maintained their 3 1/2-game lead in the NL Central over the Reds, 9-1 winners over the Mets.
The Pirates outscored the Cardinals 27-15 in winning the first two games, only to be prevented by Finley and two relievers from scoring in double digits for a third consecutive game -- something they haven't done since August 1930. The loss was only their third in 11 games since the All-Star break.
St. Louis also contained Adam Hyzdu, who singled in three at-bats after going 7-for-10 with 11 RBIs, a grand slam and two three-run homers on Friday and Saturday.
The key moment -- and one that might have momentarily cost Fogg his concentration -- came after the rookie narrowly missed hitting Jim Edmonds with two pitches before walking him with one out and one on in the third.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa came onto the field, as the Cardinals dugout yelled at Fogg and he yelled back, and Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon quickly joined him. The night before, J.D. Drew of St. Louis and Rob Mackowiak of Pittsburgh were hit with pitches late in the Pirates' 15-6 victory.
As the managers yelled at each other, standing nearly toe-to-toe, both dugouts and bullpens emptied. But there were no punches thrown and the umpires quickly restored control.
"I have a lot of respect for Tony La Russa, but this wasn't about Tony La Russa and Lloyd McClendon, this was between the Cardinals and the Pirates," McClendon said. "My kids play the game the way it's supposed to be played, hard and clean, and if people have a problem with it, that's tough."
La Russa said, "Sometimes the emotions come out. It's nothing serious. I'm not a big one for rehashing things publicly and there's really nothing there. I hope the Pirates don't spend a lot of time yapping."
The five-minute standoff may have unsettled Fogg, who probably should have tried to pitch inside to Pujols, too. Instead, he left the pitch over the plate, and Pujols hit over the left-field wall for a three-run homer that put the Cardinals up 4-1.
It was Pujols' 23rd homer and his third at PNC Park this season.
"Throwing inside is part of the game," Fogg said. "But I've got to learn from what I did. I made a mistake and he hit it hard."
Fogg never found his rhythm again, even after the Pirates tied it in their half of the third on Aramis Ramirez's two-run single and Craig Wilson's RBI grounder. The Pirates left the bases load when Mike Benjamin grounded out.
Fogg was lifted after allowing eight runs and 11 hits in four-plus innings, elevating his ERA from 3.58 to 4.06. He has lost six of 11 since a 5-1 start.
Notes: The dugouts emptied again briefly in the seventh when Brian Giles took out second baseman Vina during a double play. ... Finley is 2-0 against the Pirates, also beating them for Cleveland in 2000. ... St. Louis hasn't been swept in a three-game series this season. ... Fogg has allowed at least one homer in 13 of his last 14 starts, surrendering a team-high 20. ... The Pirates also left the bases loaded when Jason Kendall flied out against Steve Kline in the eighth. Kline got the final four outs for his third save.