Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Alan Benes Lifts Cards Back to First

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Alan Benes Lifts Cards Back to First

Article excerpt

The month of May was not particularly merry for the Cardinals. But after reaching rock bottom in a series sweep at Denver two weeks ago, they have gathered themselves together. They took another small step toward respectability Monday night.

Out of first place since April 26, the Cardinals climbed back into it as rookie Alan Benes squelched the San Diego Padres 3-0 for his first major-league shutout. The victory was the second consecutive shutout for the Cardinals and their fifth win in a row, tying their season high. Benes' older brother Andy tossed his first career shutout at St. Louis while pitching for San Diego in 1991.

The Cardinals have won 10 of their past 13 games to move a half game ahead of the Houston Astros in the National League Central Division. The downside is that they still are two games under .500, but at least progress is being made.

"Everybody has their own motivation," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "I've always liked being in first place with the next night having the pressure of having to win a game. It doesn't have a lot of meaning unless we put a lot of wins together, but I like being in first place."

Benes, who was rocked for eight runs in two innings in his first appearance at San Diego-Jack Murphy Stadium this season, shackled the Padres on six hits as he gained his fifth victory. It came at the expense of former Cardinals star Bob Tewksbury, who had five double-figure victory seasons for the Cardinals in the 1990s.

La Russa said, "Two or three times this year (Benes) had a tough outing against a club and the next time out, he's responded like a world champion. I believe he's got what it takes."

Benes said he drew considerable motivation from the 10-4 loss he suffered in San Diego a month ago.

"I seem to always have good games after teams have knocked me around," he said. "I don't know if it's because I carry it with me and I get ticked off. You always want to get a team back.

"I had to show these guys they weren't going to do that to me again. Maybe sometime down the road they will, but they weren't going to do it this time. The first time they were out there swinging the bats, having a lot of fun. …

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