NLDS Game Two – Thu. 10/05 – Cards 2-0

The St. Louis Cardinals won the NLDS Game Two over the San Diego Padres by a 2-0 score at Petco Park on Thursday afternoon. Jeff Weaver and Albert Pujols starred for the NL Central Champions, but the story of the game was four shutout innings from the beleaguered Cardinals bullpen, including 1-1/3 from closer Adam Wainwright.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jeff Weaver allowed three walks and two hits, but no runs in five innings. He did his job and turned over the lead to the bullpen. Randy Flores, Josh Kinney, Tyler Johnson and Adam Wainwright yielded no runs.

The offense got to David Wells in the fourth for both runs on some small ball. Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds collected the RBIs as Preston Wilson (double) and Pujols scored the runs. Albert had a double among his three hits. Juan Encarnacion had a pair of singles.

One year ago today
On October 5, 2005, the Cardinals and Padres were traveling the other direction as the Cardinals took the first two games of the NLDS in St. Louis. It would be over after Game Three.

Happy belated birthday
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa turned 62 on Wednesday. I wonder if he is going to start drawing his Social Security? He could probably afford to wait.

Dirt scratcher
For the second day in a row, someone tracked the number of the Padres' starter in the dirt on the back side of the mound. Tuesday was "44" and Thursday's was "21" for Wells.

The match-up
Jeff Weaver: (8-14, 5.76) vs. David Wells (3-5, 4.42).

The line-up
Eckstein, Wilson (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion, Edmonds, Belliard, Molina and Weaver.
In: Preston Wilson
Out: Chris Duncan
Based on a .314 career mark against Wells with three home runs and seven RBI in 35 at-bats, Edmonds got the start while Duncan sits, though both have struggled against lefties this season. Edmonds was dropped to six as Rolen and Encarnacion moved up one spot.

On to the game…

Cards first – Early controversy
Eckstein was hit on the foot with a pitch and took first. Pads manager Bruce Bochy complained that the pitch missed Eckstein and replays seemed to verify his argument. ESPN's dopey cartoon character Chris Berman, who doesn't cover regular season baseball, marveled about the fact that he's never seen six umpires converged to discuss anything. No kidding, as regular season ump crews are only four. Everyday Orel Hershiser gushed about Belliard making great defensive plays pretty much every day he plays. I count one in a row myself. After a Wilson fly ball, Pujols grounded into an around-the-horn double play.

Padres first – Weaver weak
Brian Giles took a one-out walk. With two down, Adrian Gonzalez walked on a check-swing full-count curveball. Weaver is having trouble getting his breaking ball across and started to show the frustration with the umpire. This has proven to be his undoing in the past. But, Josh Bard chopped out to Pujols.

Cards second – Out at the plate
Gonzalez made a nice foul grab in the stands to retire Rolen. Encarnacion singled through the right side for the Cards' first hit. Berman incorrectly called him the Cards first baserunner. He moved up on an out. Belliard singled to left. Jose Oquendo waved Encarnacion home even though it was clear a good throw would nail him. Dave Roberts did his part, easily beating the runner to the plate. Home plate ump Bill Welke waited to make the call until he could see if Bard lost the ball. He juggled it, but Juan's leg actually helped him hold on for the third out.

Padres second – Twin killing
Mike Cameron singled to left leading off. With one down, Geoff Blum just missed a home run as high as the right field pole, but it just went foul. He grounded into a 4-6-3 on a nice start by Belliard.

Cards third – 1-2-3
Two strikeouts at the bottom of the order for Wells.

Padres third – Glove love
Edmonds made a nice running catch in deep left to haul in Brian Giles' shot to end the inning.

Cards fourth – Two in
Wilson led off with a line drive over Roberts' head in left. Pujols shot a liner to left. This time, Oquendo again sent the runner home. The ball was deeper than the first time and the throw home was off. The Tigers cut the ball off, catching Pujols between first and second base. But, they muffed the rundown and with no one covering second, Pujols escaped. He scored with two out as Edmonds' grounder up the middle was stopped by Todd Walker, but he couldn't make a throw as the run scored. Roberts made a nice diving catch to rob Belliard for the third out. Cards 2-0.

Padres fourth – In time delivery
On a hard chopper, Pujols made a quick recovery to throw to Weaver covering just in time for the third out.

Cards fifth – Bad inning on the bases
Molina singled, but he was picked off by Wells. Why was stone legs leading off base so far? Weaver singled, but Eckstein grounded into a double play.

Padres fifth – Two out trouble
Rolen made a nice play coming in to get the plodding Russell Branyan by a step for the second out. Blum walked with two out, which got Wells out of the game. Ryan Klesko hit for him and singled past short. Two on with two out. Weaver got the big strikeout, getting Roberts to swing and miss at a breaking ball.

Cards sixth – Albert needs help
Pujols singled off Cla Meredith, but Rolen grounded into a double play.

Padres sixth – To the pen
Randy Flores took over. Gonzalez singled with two out. That led to a Josh Kinney appearance. He fanned Bard on a breaking ball inside. Nice job!

Cards seventh – Claying
Meredith fanned Edmonds for the second out of a 1-2-3 inning.

Padres seventh – Kinney shoos
Kinney stayed on. Branyan was retired by Pujols unassisted. With a runner on first base as Blum walked, the Padres' best bench threat, Mike Piazza lined out to right to end the inning.

Cards eighth – Big fly out
Clay Hensley pitched. Hitting for Kinney, John Rodriguez flied out to the front edge of the track in deep center for out #2 as Tyler Johnson warmed up.

Padres eighth – Johnson dominates
Tyler Johnson became the Cards' fourth pitcher. He fanned lefties Roberts and Giles looking. Adam Wainwright came on to get four outs. But, he yielded a double over the third base bag by Josh Barfield. Gonzalez grounded out 4-3.

Cards ninth – Three stranded
Pujols doubled off Hensley. Encarnacion singled to deep short to put runners on the corners. Blum's nice stop, keeping the ball on the infield, saved a run. Edmonds walked, driving a pitching change to Scott Linebrink. Belliard popped up with the bases loaded to end the threat.

Padres ninth – Closed
Adam Wainwright proved his mettle again, retiring the Padres in order. Branyan was called out on strikes to end it.

In conclusion
Albert Pujols drove in the first run and scored the second. Jeff Weaver got through five shutout innings before the real story, the Cardinals' pen took over to close out the game. The Cardinals are in firm control of this series.

Upcoming action – tentative (times CDT)
Game Matchup Day Date Time TV
Off day workout at Busch: Fri Oct 6 2:00 p.m.
NLDS Game 3: SD (Young: 11-5, 3.46) @ STL (Suppan: 12-7, 4.12) Sat Oct. 7 noon ESPN2
NLDS Game 4*: SD @ STL (Carpenter) Sun Oct. 8 noon* ESPN
NLDS Game 5**: STL @ SD Mon Oct. 9 3:00 p.m. FOX
* if necessary – game moves to 6:30 p.m. on FOX only if all other series are over
** if necessary – game moves to 7:00 p.m. on FOX only if all other series are over

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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