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Anthony Reyes pitched masterfully for the NL champions.



Published: Sun, October 22, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Anthony Reyes pitched masterfully for the NL champions.

DETROIT (AP) -- With the right rookie on the mound, it was the scrappy St. Louis Cardinals who looked sharp in the World Series.

After a week off, the Detroit Tigers simply looked rusty.

Anthony Reyes pitched brilliantly into the ninth inning, Albert Pujols made Detroit pay for pitching to him, and Scott Rolen also homered to help St. Louis cruise past the Tigers 7-2 in the Series opener Saturday night.

With the Tigers hosting their first World Series game 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 NL championship series that had wrapped up less than 48 hours earlier.

Ended Tigers' winning streak

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

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.

St. Louis showed that rest can be overrated -- and maybe all those hard-throwing Tigers aces aren't so tough after all.

Detroit was supposed to have the edge on the mound in Game 1. Verlander is a leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year, while Reyes went 5-8 with a 5.06 ERA in 17 regular-season starts.

In fact, the Cardinals only turned to him in the opener because none of their three top pitchers were ready to go.

Starter by default

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. The right-hander wasn't even on the Cardinals' roster for their first-round series against San Diego.

But he pitched like a poised pro.

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

Yadier Molina, the home run hero in Game 7 of the NL championship series, got St. Louis going again in the third with a leadoff single. He scored on Chris Duncan's two-out double, leaving first base open when Pujols came to the plate.

But the Tigers pitched to Pujols, and Verlander challenged him right away with a 93 mph fastball that the big slugger drove over the right-field fence for a 4-1 lead.




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