The Cardinals led the Rangers 12-0 in the third inning of their 13-2 victory yesterday in Arlington, Tex., when a foul ball hit into the stands by Gary Matthews Jr. got more attention than anything on the field.

In the ensuing scramble, a husky man jumped over a row of seats and pinned a 4-year-old boy against the seats with his legs while diving to get the ball. To no avail, fans started chanting "Give him the ball! Give him the ball!"

But the boy ended up with much more than one ball. In the next few minutes, both teams sent bats and balls to the boy, including Cardinals OF Reggie Sanders coming out between innings to do so.

"In my heart, I thought I should do something," said Sanders, who initially saw the incident on the clubhouse TV. "It's all about the kids."

There was also a little extra for the man who got the ball, but he left two innings later and never received the Cardinals T-shirt on which "Tough Guy" and "Ball Stealer" was written by reliever Steve Kline.

"I'm a big fan of giving kids balls. He was a real jerk about it," Kline said. "That's part of life, people like that in the world. They do something like that. I don't understand." . . .

Rangers CF Laynce Nix left the game with a sprained right shoulder after crashing into the wall in the first inning. Texas Manager Buck Showalter said Nix will likely be out at least 10 days.

* INJURED: Royals CF Carlos Beltran bruised his left knee crashing into the center field wall and left the game against the Mets. The Royals said Beltran was day-to-day.

* SOSA GETS GOING: Sammy Sosa hit an RBI single off the center field wall for the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx as he began a three-day rehabilitation assignment with the Cubs' Class AA affiliate in Jackson, Tenn.

Sosa has been on the disabled list since May 16 with a sprained ligament in his lower back brought on by two sneezes.

-- From News Services