NLCS Game One Wednesday – Cards 5-3

In Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, the Cardinals defeated the Houston Astros by a 5-3 mark Wednesday evening.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Houston Astros by a 5-3 score at Busch Stadium Wednesday evening. In the process, they took the first game of the best of seven series and won their fourth postseason game in a row.

Chris Carpenter took on postseason veteran Andy Pettitte. Carp induced 17 ground ball outs and pitched a shutout into the seventh inning. He allowed just five hits and three walks, allowing two runs through eight. Jason Isringhausen earned the save.

Reggie Sanders continued his hot hitting with a two-run home run in the first inning. David Eckstein had two hits, scored two and drove in a run. Abraham Nunez had a pair of hits and scored a run. Carpenter had two sacrifices, including a squeeze.

Wednesday's lineup – Lefty lineup
Eckstein, Edmonds, Pujols, Sanders, Walker, Grudzielanek, Molina, Nunez, Carpenter.

On to the game…

Astros first – JimEd rolls
Lance Berkman shot a two-out drive that headed over Edmonds' head in dead center. As it sliced back toward him, Edmonds had slightly overrun the ball. As a result, it hit off his glove. Edmonds rolled on the turf after his dive, but recovered quickly to hold Berkman at second. It took Morgan Ensberg one pitch to bounce out, Carpenter to Pujols.

Cards first – Crooked number
Eckstein led off with a single to right. With two down, Sanders hammered a pitch high into the air, landing over the fence in right for a two-run jack estimated at 445 feet. Sanders now has 12 postseason RBI in 13 at-bats. Cards 2-0.

Astros second – Smooth
Two quick 4-3's and a three-pitch strikeout made for a very efficient inning.

Cards second – Squeezing again
Leading off, Grudz singled up the middle. With one out, Nunez smoked a ball over first base. However, it shot off the area of the stands that juts out and went straight to the right fielder. With that, there were runners at first and third with one out and Carpenter up. On a 2-0 count with everyone in the park knowing what would happen, they did it anyway. Carpenter put down a perfect squeeze bunt as Grudz scored easily. Cards 3-0.

Astros third – Defense comes thru again
Brad Ausmus singled leading off. Pettitte bunted him over, though it looked like Carp might have been able to throw Ausmus out at second. Carp decided to play it safe. RISP with one out. Biggio walked. After going 0-2 on Taveras, he worked Carp for a walk, too. Berkman's first-pitch one-hopper to Grudz turned into a tough 4-6-3 as Eckstein had to make a difficult relay and Pujols expertly scooped up the one-bounce throw.

Cards third – Started good
Albert drew a one-out walk. Pettitte threw over to first three times before Sanders shot the initial pitch to third for an around the horn double play to end the inning.

Astros fourth – Nailed at home
Ensberg put a one hopper into the Houston pen leading off. Sanders may not have been able to get it no matter what, but he didn't head straight to where the ball ended up landing. Mike Lamb moved the runner over to third. The defense was back with Jason Lane up. He drew a four-pitch walk. Adam Everett hit a shot to Nunez, who threw home. Molina stepped inside to get the throw and just tagged out a sliding Ensberg. The third out was another grounder to second base to crush another Astros chance.

Cards fourth – Failure to execute
Walker singled to center on the first pitch of the inning. He had been 0-for-10 in the postseason. Grudz did not get the runner over as he fanned as he was trying to check his swing. A Molina shot was turned into a very nice 3-6-3 by Lamb to end the inning.

Astros fifth – Retired in order
For only the second time.

Cards fifth – Pummeling Pettitte
Nunez singled to left leading off. Carp again expertly bunted the runner over. Eckstein singled to right as Nunez beat the throw home without a slide. Eck took second when the throw home was not cut off. Albert's single the other way to right scored Eckstein easily. Sanders took a free pass. Ezequiel Astacio began to throw in the Houston pen. A Walker ground out ended it. Cards 5-0.

Astros sixth – Sanders with the glove
Sanders made a nice leaping catch against the wall in left to retire Lamb for the third out. That would have been a home run in Houston.

Cards sixth – Down in order
But, it is too late for Pettitte.

Astros seventh – Burke has bite
Everett singled past a diving Eckstein with one out. Walker made a catch in right, but fought with the lights and ended up making it as he fell to his rear end. Chris Burke pinch hit for Pettitte and homered high just off the left field foul pole. Biggio fanned swinging. Cards 5-2.

Cards seventh – Springer survives
Former Card Russ Springer, one of the forgettable members of the 2003 pen, took over on the mound. Edmonds drew a two-out free pass to send Pujols up. He lined a low, outside pitch to second base to end the inning.

Astros eighth – ‘Stros overanxious
Can the Cards get one more inning out of Carpenter? Taveras bounced out on the second pitch. Berkman and Lamb each did the same on their first pitches seen. Four pitches and three outs. Not bad.

Cards eighth – Another Astacio
Ezequiel Astacio took the mound. He handled Sanders, Walker and Grudz in order.

Astros ninth – Izzy time
After Lamb went 0-2 leading off, he worked a single. Jason Lane fanned looking for the first out. Izzy is pounding the low strikes home. On a 1-2 count, he got the ball up. Everett chopped a ball to deep short. Eckstein rushed his throw to second, which Grudz couldn't handle. The error put two in scoring position and the tying run at the plate with one out. Ausmus sac fly scored one. But that was it. The final out was recorded with Jeff Bagwell in the on-deck circle. Cards 5-3.

Upcoming action (times CDT) – Projected starters
Thursday: NLCS Game 2 at Busch: Mark Mulder vs. Roy Oswalt
Saturday: NLCS Game 3 at Minute Maid: Matt Morris vs. Roger Clemens
Sunday: NLCS Game 4 at Minute Maid: Jeff Suppan vs. Brandon Backe
Monday: NLCS Game 5 at Minute Maid (if necessary): Chris Carpenter vs. Andy Pettitte
Wednesday: NLCS Game 6 at Busch (if necessary): Mulder vs. Oswalt
Thursday: NLCS Game 7 at Busch (if necessary): Morris vs. Clemens
For game times and broadcast schedules: link

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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