Lefty also throws wild pitch in 4 innings

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Back in 2001, Rick Ankiel would have struggled after beaning a batter. On Friday, it didn't get him off track.

Ankiel won his first game in 3½ years with a four-inning relief stint marred only by an errant sinker that beaned a batter in a 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

"It feels great," Ankiel said. "I'm not really going to put too much into it, but it's well-deserved. It was a long road back and I'm happy about it."

Ankiel (1-0), activated from the disabled list Sept. 1, gave up two hits in his 49-pitch outing, including a home run by Keith Ginter. Ankiel struck out two and walked none in his first victory since April 8, 2001, when he beat Arizona's Randy Johnson.

"That was nice, too," Ankiel said. "This one, I'm on my way back after surgery and I think I put a lot more work into this one. And it feels great."

Ankiel, whose career was derailed by record wildness in the 2000 playoffs, beaned Dave Krynzel on a sinker that got away with one out in the sixth -- his final inning. Krynzel sustained a concussion and was taken to a hospital as a precautionary measure.

"The ball got him good," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "They think everything's OK, but he was dizzy and had some nausea after he got hit."

Ankiel bounced another curveball for a wild pitch against the next batter, Lyle Overbay, before inducing an inning-ending flyout.

It was the fifth appearance for Ankiel since his callup -- he had pitched just six major-league innings coming in. The Cardinals are 4-1 in his appearances.

"I thought he was outstanding," manager Tony La Russa said. "That one pitch got away, and I think that's the first time we've hit anybody in the head in the nine years I've been here. It's unfortunate."

Ankiel's Sept. 7 outing against San Diego was his first big-league appearance since May 10, 2001. He threw nine wild pitches and walked 11 in four innings in the 2000 playoffs, was demoted to the minors in May 2001 and missed the 2002 season with a sprained elbow. He had reconstructive elbow surgery last year.

Albert Pujols had a two-run double and six pitchers combined on a three-hitter for the Cardinals, who ended a season-high losing streak at four games. St. Louis, which leads the major leagues with 104 victories, is 7-6 since clinching the NL Central on Sept. 18.

Since 15-game winner Chris Carpenter was sidelined by nerve damage in his right biceps on Sept. 18, St. Louis has used its bullpen to get through what would have been his starts.

Ankiel took over after Al Reyes, who has started both of the Cardinals' bullpen games this month, struck out three in two perfect innings. Reyes threw three perfect innings Saturday at Colorado.

Jason Isringhausen, the Cardinals' sixth pitcher, worked the ninth for his 47th save in 54 chances. Isringhausen tied the franchise record set by Lee Smith in 1991.

Pujols' third double in two games came off Ben Hendrickson (1-8) with two outs in the seventh and put the Cardinals ahead 4-1. Yadier Molina had a bases-loaded groundout in the second and Larry Walker doubled and scored on Scott Rolen's sacrifice fly in the third.

Hendrickson, who faced the Cardinals for the second straight start, gave up four runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.

"That's their 'A' lineup and, for the most part, he did a real good job," Yost said. "I'm very impressed with him."

Game notes
The start of the game was delayed 16 minutes by rain. ... CF Jim Edmonds ended an 0-for-21 slump when he singled in the second. But he also turned the wrong way on Craig Counsell's drive in the seventh and caught the ball while falling down. ... The
Cardinals are 23-4 on Fridays. ... Pujols also singled in the third and has 12 multihit games in his last 29. ... Ginter is 15-for-32 during an eight-game hitting streak and has homered in five of seven games, including three straight.