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Braves fall to Cards 3-2 in series opener

ATLANTA - Rick Ankiel drove in two runs for St. Louis to back another strong outing by Joel Pineiro, who equaled the best start of his career when the Cardinals edged the Atlanta Braves 3-2 Monday night.

Ankiel had a pair of two-out, run-scoring singles, one in the second inning to push the Cardinals to a 2-0 lead and another in the seventh for a 3-1 edge.

Pineiro (4-0) went 6 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and a pair of runs while walking none. He also won his first four decisions for Seattle in 2001.

Ryan Franklin worked the ninth for his sixth save in as many chances.

The crowd of 16,379 was the fourth turnout of less than 20,000 in seven games at Turner Field this season.

Pineiro's lone strikeout came on his final pitch, and it was a big one. The right-hander whiffed Brandon Jones with the potential tying run at second base before reliever Chris Perez struck out David Ross to end the threat.

The run-challenged Braves have struggled to produce offense with a lineup that's missing Brian McCann and Garret Anderson, both on the disabled list. Since starting the season 5-1, they have scored three runs or fewer in nine of their last 13 games.