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Cards win fifth straight after honoring Buck

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Placido Polanco, almost strictly a singles
hitter, hit two home runs for Jack Buck.

That was Polanco's way of paying tribute to the team's longtime
broadcaster, helping the St. Louis Cardinals win their fifth
straight game, 6-2 over the Anaheim Angels on Wednesday night.

''We were very sad, but as the same time we were very
motivated,'' Polanco said. ''What a great friend Jack was. We
wanted to do it for him.''

The Cardinals extended their NL Central lead to two games over
the Reds a day after the death of Buck, who was honored in a
pregame ceremony and whose closed casket will be at home plate for
a visitation on Thursday.

The team carved the initials ''JFB'' in the grass just beyond
the center-field wall and again behind second base. And the bronze
bust of Buck at the microphone outside Busch Stadium became a
shrine crammed with homemade cards, baseball hats, toy animals,
balloons, old framed photographs of the longtime announcer and even
a transistor radio tuned to KMOX -- the Cardinals' flagship station.

''Very few teams are as close their broadcaster as this club is
to Jack,'' manager Tony La Russa said. ''Everybody knows him,
everybody really loves him, he talks to everybody.''

Polanco, who has 47 singles among his 58 hits, tied his career
best with four RBI with his first multihomer game in the majors.

Polanco entered the game with 11 career homers in 1,434 at-bats,
and only one in 213 at-bats this year. Polanco homered off Aaron
Sele (6-4) with one out in the first to tie it at 1, hit a
three-run homer in the fifth for a 6-1 lead and had an infield hit
in the seventh.

Albert Pujols also homered for the Cardinals, hitting a two-run
shot in the fourth.

Scott Spiezio homered, doubled and singled for the Angels, who
have lost four in a row for the first time since April 20-23.
Anaheim has been outscored 28-13 during the slump.

''You can point your finger at our starting pitching,'' manager
Mike Scioscia said. ''We're not getting the consistent starts we
had for six weeks. Every team is going to go through this.''

Matt Morris (10-4) allowed two runs on seven hits in seven
innings in his 100th career start. He's 3-0 with a 1.56 ERA in his
last three starts after going 1-2 with a 6.14 ERA in the previous
four outings.

''Today was a little different,'' Morris said. ''It wasn't the
same warmup routine, but there are more important things sometimes.

''I'm just glad we were able to bring home a winner for him.''

Sele lost for the first time in four starts, giving up six runs
on eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. Sele fell to 11-6 in 21 career
interleague starts.

''I don't think you have to work real hard to describe this
game,'' Sele said. ''The first two home runs were right down the
middle of the plate. They were mislocated fastballs that were easy
to drive out of the park.''

The Angels took the lead in the first on a double by David
Eckstein and Garret Anderson's two-out single, and Polanco's homer
tied it. Pujols' 15th homer in the fourth put the Cardinals ahead
3-1.

Spiezio's fourth homer cut the gap to 6-2 in the sixth.

Game notes
Cardinals personnel will wear black patches with Buck's
initials, JFB, on their sleeves the rest of the season. ... Polanco
has three four-RBI games, the last coming on Sept. 23, 2000 at
Chicago. He also extended his hitting streak to 12 games, longest
on the team this season. ... The Angels fell to 24-14 when scoring
first and 14-7 when they score in the first inning. ... David
Eckstein hasn't struck out in his last 65 plate appearances, the
longest current streak in the majors.