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Kendall hits for the cycle

Pirates 13, Cardinals 1

.c The Associated Press


PITTSBURGH (AP) - Jason Kendall became the first Pittsburgh Pirates player to hit for the cycle in Three Rivers Stadium and Kris Benson pitched a three-hitter in a 13-1 victory Friday night over the St. Louis Cardinals.

One night after Mark McGwire hit three homers and drove in seven runs in Philadelphia, he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout as Benson held the Cardinals without an extra-base hit.

Kendall had a two-run homer in the first, an RBI single in the second, a double in the third and a two-run triple in the eighth. He is the first Pirates player to hit for the cycle in Three Rivers Stadium's 30-year history and the first to do so anywhere since Gary Redus at Cincinnati on Aug. 25, 1989.

The five RBIs are Kendall's career high.

Benson (4-4) seemingly got stronger as he went along, striking out a career-high 12 - all from the third inning on - while allowing one hit over the final six innings. He pitched eight shutout innings, allowing four hits, in beating Milwaukee 3-0 on Sunday.

Since starting 0-3, Benson has allowed only nine earned runs while winning four of six starts, lowering his ERA from 5.96 to 3.02.

The expected pitching matchup between St. Louis rookie Rick Ankiel (3-2) and Benson never materialized as Ankiel gave up seven runs in 2 2-3 innings in the shortest of his eight starts in the majors.

Ankiel, whose .192 opponents batting average was the second lowest among NL starters entering the game, has lost his two starts to the Pirates by a combined score of 23-8.

Kevin Young also homered as the Pirates, only 17-30 against left-handed starters last season, improved to 7-7 against them this season.

The Pirates jumped on Ankiel so quickly they had an 8-1 lead by the time the major league umpires arrived in the fourth inning. The crew was delayed in Toronto by weather and was replaced by one major league replacement umpire, Dan Iassogna, and three college umpires.

The first four Pirates batters reached base against Ankiel, with Mike Benjamin leading off the first with a single ahead of Kendall's second homer, a shot down the right-field line on a 3-2 pitch. Kendall, who moved from third to second in the order earlier this week, has nine hits in his last five games.

Bruce Aven walked ahead of Brian Giles' RBI single, and Pat Meares added a run-scoring single later in the inning. Giles was 2-for-5 in his first game since signing a contract extension worth at least $45 million.

Benson, who also had a single, helped himself by walking and scoring on Kendall's single in the second, and the Pirates chased Ankiel with another four-run inning in the third. They added a third four-run inning in the eighth.

Benjamin, 14-for-32 against left-handers this season, had a two-run double ahead of Kendall's double and Bruce Aven's two-run single in the third. Young added his sixth homer, in the fourth off Darren Holmes.

Notes:@ McGwire batted third for the first time this season. He hit cleanup in his first 30 starts. ... McGwire had homered in 11 of his previous 22 games. ... Pirates OF Wil Cordero missed his fourth successive game after returning to his Puerto Rico home to testify in a child custody case. ... Cardinals 2B Fernando Vina left after being struck by a Benson pitch in the fifth. ... McGwire was lifted in the seventh.

AP-NY-05-19-00 2146EDT

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without prior written authority of The Associated Press.