Matt Morris bested former Cardinal Woody Williams. With his patented curve ball working, Morris carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and despite some trouble, earned the victory. Morris allowed five hits and two runs in six innings. The Redbirds' fourth reliever, Jason Isringhausen, collected the final four outs.
Reggie Sanders set an NLDS record with his ninth and tenth RBIs via a double. David Eckstein had two singles, a walk and a two-run home run. Albert Pujols doubled twice and was walked two more times. Abraham Nunez had two singles and stole a base. Yadier Molina also had two hits and added two RBI.
Saturday's lineup – Same as before
Eckstein, Edmonds, Pujols, Walker, Sanders, Grudzielanek, Nunez, Molina, Morris.
On to the game…
Cards first – Out of the gate ok
Eckstein led off with a soft single to left. After an Edmonds strikeout, Albert went down and poked a down and away 2-0 pitch to the wall in right center for an RBI double. With Albert on third after a Walker infield chopper, Sanders drew a walk. A Grudz fly ball ended it. Cards 1-0.
Padres first – In order
Morris is throwing his curve. Good sign. Walker made a nice running catch to retire Mark Loretta for the second out. ESPN's Joe Morgan commented that home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman's strike zone is small as Brian Giles took what should have been strike three. He flied out instead.
Cards second – Putting the wood to Woody
Woody fanned Nunez easily. Molina singled to right next. Morris was unable to sacrifice, but beat the relay to first to avoid the double play. As the ball rolled away, Morris turned to the inside, but made it back to first in time. Eckstein picked him up with one of his patented homers into the leftfield corner on a 2-0 pitch. Woody disgustedly tossed his gum away. Edmonds slapped a double into the right field corner. That opened first base for the Pads to intentionally walk Pujols as Brian Lawrence warmed up in the bullpen. Walker took an 0-2 pitch to the right knee. He didn't really try to get out of the way. Bases loaded for Sanders, who scored two on a double down the left field line. Exit Woody. Morgan kept saying that Woody was throwing the ball well. Right. Cards 5-0.
Padres second – Morris getting squeezed?
Morris started poorly, walking Ryan Klesko and Ramon Hernandez leading off. Duncan came out to calm Morris, who can get bothered by a small strike zone. Robert Fick tried to bunt, but Molina threw out Klesko at third. However, the play was nullified, as Dreckman said that Fick made contact with the ball outside the box and he was called out as a result. Replays showed it was a good call. Morris fanned Khalil Greene for out #2 and Joe Randa flied out to Edmonds.
Cards third – Mo hits
Morris blooped a single to center with two out.
Padres third – Down 1-2-3
Morris looked a lot better this inning, putting the Pads down in order.
Cards fourth – More of the same
Clay Hensley took over on the mound and also got Edmonds, Pujols and Walker without incident.
Padres fourth – Still hitless
Hernandez drew a two-out walk, but Morris is still throwing curves. Good.
Cards fifth – Back breaking
Grudz singled with one out and took third on a Nunez single to the right side. Nunez then stole second base. Molina brought them both home with an opposite field single down the right field line. Morris sacrificed him to second. Eckstein drew a walk and sprinted to first base, as always. Rudy Seanez began to throw in the pen. But, Edmonds ground out to first. Cards 7-0.
Padres fifth – No-no, shutout no more
Edmonds crashed against the wall at 400+ feet to haul in Greene's leadoff drive. Joe Randa doubled to left to break up the no-hitter. Eric Young singled to right. Walker's throw home was off-line as Randa scored. Dave Roberts' grounded second to first for out #2 as EY moved into scoring position. Walker made an attempt at catching a foul ball and fell over a rail in right by the Cardinals bullpen. He seemed ok, but who knows? Loretta plated Young with a single to left. Brad Thompson is warming up. A full-count single by Brian Giles put runners on the corners. Duncan came out to slap Morris around and give Thompson more time. Morris fanned Klesko to end the threat. Cards 7-2.
Cards sixth – Albert is on
Pujols went down and slapped a double into the left center gap leading off. Pujols is 5-for-9 in the series with a pair of doubles this evening. He was stranded, though.
Padres sixth – Mo finishes nicely
Hernandez singled leading off. Fick ground to second, but Eckstein's throw was high to avoid the runner. The ball went off the top of Pujols' glove and into the dugout, despite Molina having run up the line to back up the play. Fick was awarded second. Greene fanned for out #2 and Morris retired Randa for his final out of the night.
Padres seventh – Thompson touched
Brad Thompson took over. So Taguchi also came in for Walker. Dave Roberts took Thompson deep to right for a solo homer with one out. With two outs and three lefties coming up, Randy Flores was ready in the pen and collected the third out. Cards 7-3.
Cards eighth – Last threat?
Eckstein singled to center leading off against Akinori Otsuka. Eckstein took second on a deep fly to left center by Edmonds. Pujols again took an intentional pass, but Taguchi forced Albert out and Sanders flied out to end it.
Padres eighth – Reliever-go-round
With one out, Julian Tavarez was called upon. Hernandez put his first pitch into the left-center seats. After a Khalil Greene two-out single, Jason Isringhausen was asked to get the final four outs. The first one was secured successfully. Cards 7-4.
Cards ninth – Last at-bats
Nunez singled off Pads closer Trevor Hoffman with one out.
Padres ninth – Ending it
Mark Sweeney walked leading off. Izzy fanned Roberts on a big curve. Loretta singled. Giles fanned looking on 3-2. Duncan came out to discuss getting the last out, Ryan Klesko, who has a career .429 average against Klesko. A weak comebacker ended the game and series. The on-field celebration was subdued.
Upcoming action (times CDT)
The NLCS starts Wednesday in St. Louis.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.