The scoring began tonight in the bottom of the third inning when Stanford put across a single run off ASU (27-17, 9-7) starter Jered Liebeck. With Chris O'Riordan on first base and two outs, the Cardinal second baseman stole second to put himself into scoring position. Sam Fuld then singled him home extending his hitting streak to eight games while putting Stanford ahead 1-0. Jeremy Guthrie, meanwhile, was setting down the ASU hitters with ease through the first five innings. Guthrie, who arguably had his best stuff of the year tonight, scattered five hits (all singles and none hit particularly hard) through the first five frames while walking none and striking out four. The Sun Devils best chance to score in those first five innings came in the top of the third when #8 hitter Ryan McKenna singled, stole second, and then advanced to third on a ground ball to the right side (diving play by O'Riordan at second on that ground ball prevented a run and he still was able to get up and throw the runner out at first). Steve Garrabrants was the next hitter and he grounded a ball right back to Guthrie who threw home to get the putout on McKenna at home plate who was trying to score.
Finally in the bottom of the fifth inning, with the score still 1-0 Stanford, the Cardinal offense broke through against Liebeck. With two outs, Fuld singled to right field bringing up catcher Ryan Garko. Garko crushed his 12th home run of the season, a deep drive way over the fence in left field, pushing the Stanford lead up to 3-0. But in the top of the sixth inning, the Sun Devils responded with three runs of their own to tie the game. Guthrie hit clean-up hitter Jeremy West with one out and then Rod Allen singled to right field putting two runners on base for third baseman Jeff Larish. Then on the first pitch of the at-bat, Larish homered to right-center field tying the game at 3-3.
Stanford would be quick to respond thanks in large part to Andy Topham. Carlos Quentin led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a single but found himself still standing at first when the next two hitters were easily retired on a pop-out and a strike out. But Topham then came through with the big hit as he homered to left field giving Stanford back the lead that they would not relinquish. ASU put two runners on base with two out in the seventh inning, but Guthrie struck out #4 hitter Jeremy West to retire the side. The junior righthander then worked quick 1-2-3 eighth and ninth innings securing the win and putting the Cardinal into a tie for second place in the conference.
Game Notes :
* Sam Fuld's hot hitting continued with a 2-for-4 performance tonight. It was Fuld's eighth consecutive multi-hit game and his 14th in the last 15th contests.
* Jeremy Guthrie improved to 8-1 on the season with tonight's win. He scattered eight hits in his nine innings of work while walking only one and striking out eight.
* With the two homers tonight, Stanford has now hit 12 home runs during this current five-game winning streak.
* The five-game winning streak matches a season-high for the Cardinal this year. They won five straight from February 24th to March 8th and then five in a row again from March 10th to March 28th.
* A quick look at the top of the Pac-10 standings sees USC in first at 12-4, Stanford and Washington tied for second at 10-6 while ASU and Oregon State (who lost to California this afternoon) now in tie for fourth place at 9-7.
0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 - 3
Stanford 0 0 1 0 2 2 0 0 x - 5 8 1
This series continues tomorrow afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 1pm. Stanford has made a change in their starting rotation as John Hudgins (8-0, 4.30) will get the call tomorrow (with Cunningham now going on Sunday). The Sun Devils will send out their ace Mike Esposito (7-5, 3.40) to the hill.