The offense could do little against Chris Young, but after he left the game, Albert Pujols hoisted the Cardinals team onto his shoulders. His dramatic three-run blast off reliever Cla Meredith in the bottom of the eighth brought his club from behind to secure the win.
One year ago today
On September 27, 2005, the Cardinals suffered a 3-1 loss to the Astros at home. All three Houston runs came via the longball. The Cards scored on back-to-back doubles by Larry Walker and Reggie Sanders in the 6th inning. Walker finished with three hits. Matt Morris posted his tenth loss, and fifth straight, allowing two runs on five hits in six innings.
Anthony Reyes (5-7, 4.92) vs. Chris Young (11-5, 3.55).
Informative pre-game Q&A
Dan: Al, you're a former player. Do you think the Cardinals are playing tight right now?
Al: Well, the players don't want to be known as a tight team…
Miles (SS), Duncan (RF), Pujols, Spiezio (LF), Rolen, Edmonds (CF), Belliard, Molina and Reyes.
Out: Juan Encarnacion. In: Scott Spiezio. Chris Duncan moves from left to right for new clean-up hitter Scott Spiezio.
On to the game…
Padres first – Behind again
Dave Roberts walked and stole second on a very close play as Terrmel Sledge fanned. Future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza singled the run home. Adrian Gonzalez singled, but no more damage occurred as Mike Cameron was called out on strikes. Padres 1-0.
Cards first – Rough start
Duncan and Pujols fanned on the way to a rough start for the offense.
Padres second – Out of trouble
On a ball that dropped in front of Spiezio, the left fielder committed a fielding miscue enabling the leadoff hitter, Russell Branyan, to reach second base. It was a single and an error. Young grounded to Reyes, who fired to third. The ensuing rundown retired the man in scoring position. Edmonds caught Roberts' sinking liner to end the inning. However, Reyes has already thrown 43 pitches, so another five-inning outing seems likely at this point.
Cards second – Four Ks
Edmonds fanned to end the inning, just as Spiezio did to start the frame.
Padres third – Scary flashback for Piazza
Todd Walker singled to center. Reyes did his best Julian Tavarez impression, throwing a wild pitch just behind Piazza's head. Walker trotted into second base. Piazza walked anyway. Gonzalez grounded into a 6-4-3 to end it.
Cards third – First hit
Belliard singled to left leading off. Molina grounded into a double play. He is hitting .216 on the season. Reyes fanned.
Padres fourth – No RISP
Branyan walked leading off. Belliard retired the lead runner on a force at second. And that was all.
Cards fourth – Tie game
Pujols singled to left with two down. He stole second base and took third when Piazza committed a throwing error. Spiezio walked. Rolen's single brought in the run. Tie 1-1.
Padres fifth – Roberts again
Roberts singled leading off, but the speedster never moved from first base.
Cards fifth – Quiet
The bottom three were set down in order.
Padres sixth – Six Ks
Cameron and Branyan struck out to end Reyes' best inning of the night.
Cards sixth – Where's the offense?
The top three hitters did nothing.
Padres seventh – Reyes done
Reyes didn't look good at all walking Blum leading off. On a 2-0 count to the pitcher, La Russa removed Reyes from the game. Randy Flores took over and got out of the inning.
Cards seventh – RISP wasted
Spiezio took a leadoff walk and stole second base against the weak-armed Piazza. Belliard fanned to end the threat.
Padres eighth – Throwing another game away
Braden Looper came on with one out. Piazza reached via an infield single. Khalil Greene pinch ran for him and moved up as Gonzalez walked. Rolen snared a hard line drive off the bat of Cameron in the air, but rushed his throw to second and muffed the sure double play with the wild throw. Runners ended up on second and third. Tyler Johnson was brought in to face Branyan. Mark Bellhorn hit for Branyan. Before a pitch was thrown, Duncan came out to talk with Johnson. After a check swing that could have been strike three, Johnson uncorked a wild pitch that shot off Molina's shin guard which allowed Greene to score. Cameron also tried to make it home, but was tagged out at the plate. Padres 2-1.
Cards eighth – Big Albert Land
So Taguchi walked against Scott Linebrink, hitting for Molina. David Eckstein pinch hit, which drew the loudest ovation of the night. The elation quieted as Eckstein's bunt was too hard, enabling So to be thrown out at second. John Nelson ran for Eckstein. Miles walked. Duncan whiffed on his nemesis, the low and outside breaking ball. Cla Meredith came in to face Pujols. That didn't work out so well for the Padres as Pujols blasted the second pitch into the third deck just to the left of Big Mac Land. It was his 47th home run of the season, a new career best. Exit Meredith. Cards 4-2.
Padres ninth – Losing streak ends
Adam Wainwright fanned the first two hitters of the inning. But, the pressure was restored as Josh Bard's ball rolled to the wall in right center for a double. Roberts grounded out 4-3.
Cards ninth – Not needed
Thank goodness for that!
Anthony Reyes was far from dominant, but kept his team in the game. La Russa found the hook he lost the night before. Adam Wainwright looked like a closer. But, Albert Pujols' shoulders were broad enough to carry the Cardinals again with the three-run home run. I hope he has a few more weeks in him.
Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Thu., Sept. 28 vs. Brewers: Jason Marquis (14-15, 5.80) vs. Doug Davis (10-11, 5.02) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Fri., Sept. 29 vs. Brewers: Jeff Weaver (4-4, 5.21) vs. Chris Capuano (11-11, 3.87) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Sat., Sept. 30 vs. Brewers: Jeff Suppan (12-7, 4.18) vs. Ben Sheets (6-7, 4.05) 12:25 p.m. Big FOX
Sun., Oct. 1 vs. Brewers: Chris Carpenter (15-8, 3.09) vs. Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 3.97) 1:15 p.m. CW11
Regular season ends.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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