Mon, Oct 23, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Cardinals shock Tigers in Game 1

NO WALK IN THE PARK Many Detroit fans probably showed up at the game expecting Verlander to put St Louis to the sword, but it didn't work out that way

AP , DETROIT

The St Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols, right, hugs teammate Scott Rolen after their 7-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of baseball's World Series in Detroit on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Rookie Anthony Reyes pitched brilliantly, and Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen homered to lead the St Louis Cardinals past the Detroit Tigers 7-2 in the World Series opener on Saturday.

Game 2 was yesterday, with Kenny Rogers pitching for Detroit against ex-Tiger Jeff Weaver.

With the Tigers hosting their first World Series in 22 years, fans showed up hoping to see rookie Justin Verlander buzz through a St Louis team that scraped its way past the New York Mets in a seven-game National League championship series hat had wrapped up less than 48 hours earlier.

But instead, Reyes easily outpitched Verlander in the first Game 1 matchup between rookies, silencing the Detroit crowd early and ending the Tigers' seven-game postseason winning streak.

"I don't know if I can top this," Reyes said.

Reyes retired 17 consecutive batters before Carlos Guillen's seventh-inning single and was lifted after Craig Monroe homered on the first pitch of the ninth.

Braden Looper finished off St Louis' first World Series victory since 1987, stopping an eight-game Series losing streak for NL teams.

Carrying only two players with World Series experience, the young Tigers appeared a little jittery, making wild throws and key mistakes. They'd also had a week off, and simply looked rusty.

Detroit was supposed to have the edge on the mound in Game 1. Verlander is a leading candidate for American League Rookie of the Year, while Reyes went 5-8 with a 5.06 ERA in 17 regular-season starts. He started only because none of the Cardinals' three top pitchers were ready to go.

Reyes had the fewest wins of any Game 1 starter in World Series history and was the first in 33 years with a losing regular-season record. He wasn't even on the Cardinals' roster for their first-round series against San Diego.

But peering from under a starch-stiff cap and with his red-and-white socks pulled high, Reyes allowed only four hits and one walk.

"That style is ... not that attractive," La Russa said. "I don't think it's going to be copied widely by the kids of America."

Soon after, Reyes explained.

"The hat helps me see a little bit, gets more light in. I can see the signs a little better," he said.

Detroit got on the board early, momentarily delighting the crowd of 42,479. Monroe, an unheralded player showing off a wealth of skills in these playoffs, doubled in the first inning and scored on Guillen's two-out single.

Rolen tied the score at 1 with a solo home run in the second.

Yadier Molina, the home run hero in Game 7 of the NLCS, got St Louis going again in the third with a leadoff single. He scored on Chris Duncan's two-out double.

Verlander challenged Pujols right away with a 150kph fastball that the big slugger drove over the right-field fence for a 4-1 lead.

Verlander walked Pujols leading off the sixth, but the pitcher then threw away a pickoff attempt, and Pujols hustled to third on his ailing right hamstring.

Jim Edmonds singled to make it 5-1, and Rolen's double deep into the right-field corner chased Verlander.

The rookie flashed his outstanding stuff all night, striking out eight in five-plus innings. But he also showed his inexperience, throwing too many fastballs in the middle of the plate while giving up seven runs -- six earned -- and six hits.

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