NLDS Game Three – Sat. 10/07 – Padres 3-1

The St. Louis Cardinals lost NLDS Game Three to the San Diego Padres by a 3-1 score at Busch Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Chris Young struck out nine Cardinals hitters in 6-2/3 shutout innings. Jeff Suppan took the loss. Albert Pujols went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and grounded into a double play. So Taguchi had a solo home run. The Padres stranded 14 baserunners or it would have been worse.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jeff Suppan struggled. He escaped jams in the first and second, but the Padres got to him in the fourth. He departed with one out in the fifth after allowing three runs on six hits. He also walked three and struck out three. It could have been much worse as all told, the Padres stranded 14 runners on the day.

The offense couldn't solve Chris Young any better than they did against him late in the regular season, getting just four hits in 6-2/3 shutout innings. Young struck out nine, including Albert Pujols twice. He went 0-for-4 and grounded into a double play. So Taguchi hit a solo home run in the eighth inning for the only Cardinals run.

One year ago today
On October 7, 2005, the Cardinals finished out their 3-0 sweep in the NLDS over the San Diego Padres. St. Louis took the final game 7-4 at Petco Park. Matt Morris bested his former teammate Woody Williams. Jason Isringhausen closed and David Eckstein homered.

The match-up
Chris Young: 11-5, 3.46 @ Jeff Suppan: 12-7, 4.12.

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan (LF), Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, Encarnacion, Belliard, Molina and Suppan.
Out: Preston Wilson
In: Chris Duncan
With a righty on the mound, Edmonds moved back to cleanup, with Rolen and Encarnacion dropping one spot.

On to the game…

Padres first – Yadi covers Duncan's weakness
Dave Roberts led off with a slicing single to left. Chris Duncan flat-out dropped a liner by Todd Walker. It bounced off his body, rolling toward the line. The error put runners on the corners with no out. Brian Giles chopped out to Suppan, who looked the runner back to third and collected the out. Two in scoring position for Mike Piazza. Piazza hit a chopper to Pujols, who fired home as Molina tagged out the sliding Roberts. With Adrian Gonzalez at the plate, Piazza strayed too far off first base. Molina's throw to first was expertly handled by Pujols, applying the slap tag to Piazza's behind as he tried to get back into first. An excellent escape by the Cardinals defense.

Cards first – Two on, too
Eckstein singled. Duncan hit a ball that was borderline fair vs. foul that was called foul. Padres manager Bruce Bochy came out to argue to no avail. It would have been a double play. Duncan ended up fanning. Pujols lined out to right. Eckstein easily stole second base as Piazza's throw was really weak. Why did he wait so long? On a 3-1 count, Edmonds was then walked intentionally. Rolen needs to make the Padres pay. Unfortunately, he swung at a ball a foot outside on the way to fanning on a high slider.

Padres second – Two more runners
Gonzalez struck out on a 3-2 change-up. Confidence. Mike Cameron doubled off the base of the outfield wall to left. Duncan took a circuitous route as the ball shot away from him and rolled to Edmonds. Branyan flied out to left, but it hung up in the air long enough for Edmonds to come over to make the catch. #8 hitter Geoff Blum was given an intentional walk with first base open to get to Young, who fanned weakly.

Cards second – Nothing doing
The 6-7-8 hitters went down in order with Molina fanning last.

Padres third – Suppan's defense solid
Pujols and Suppan paired up on a nice defensive play on Roberts, but the speedster just won the race to first. He was retired on a very good double play started by Suppan.

Cards third – Settling in
Duncan flied out to right ending a second straight perfect inning for Young.

Padres fourth – Ice broken
Piazza lined out to Belliard on the first pitch. Gonzalez singled to right, then Cameron walked. Branyan shot a ball down the right field line. Encarnaction had to run a long way and Belliard slipped trying to make the relay throw. Both runners scored. Blum's sacrifice fly plated the third run. Encarnacion's throw was not in time. The Cards appealed that the runner left third base early. Didn't work. Young took called strike three to end the inning. Padres 3-0.

Cards fourth – K Bros.
Pujols struck out on a full-count check swing. Edmonds and Rolen whiffed, too.

Padres fifth – Pitching change
Roberts sliced a single to left leading off. On a pitchout, Molina fired the throw into center and the runner ended up at third. Walker's ground out to second base didn't get the runner home. Giles walked, which brought La Russa out. Josh Hancock was called on to relieve Suppan and got out of the mess.

Cards fifth – Going nowhere
Belliard singled with one out but Molina again grounded into an inning-ending double play. Just two hits in five innings.

Padres sixth – Two more runners
Hancock stayed on. Duncan made a failed diving attempt on what turned into a one-out double for Blum. It was not Duncan's fault this time. Roberts walked with two outs, but that was it.

Cards sixth – Great chance missed again
Aaron Miles popped out, hitting for Hancock. Eckstein followed with a single to left. Duncan needs to redeem himself by getting a hit so Pujols has a chance. He coaxed a walk instead. Just as good. Bochy came out to give Young instructions. Pujols struck out swinging. Edmonds flied out to the wall in left center.

Padres seventh – More trouble
Piazza stroked a one-out double to right off Randy Flores. Gonzalez walked. Isn't Flores supposed to get the lefties out? Exit Flores, enter Braden Looper.

Cards seventh – Running out of chances
Piazza made a rolling, falling catch of Rolen's popup in foul territory. Encarnacion fanned looking, the Cardinals' ninth strikeout of the day against Young. Belliard doubled into the left field corner. Scott Spiezio was announced as the pinch hitter for Molina, so Young was pulled for the lefty Alan Embree. Spiezio went full before striking out.

Padres eighth – More Duncan defensive woes
Rob Bowen hit a liner to Duncan, who dropped it again in the sun. The very, very gracious home team scorer called it a hit. Yeah, right. Roberts bunt failed, but the runner was moved over. No harm as Walker was retired for the fifth time on the day.

Cards eighth – Albert can't do it every time
Taguchi was announced to hit. Bochy countered with reliever Scott Linebrink. He hit a home run into the first row of the seats in left. Duncan drew a full-count walk to again give Pujols a chance. He grounded into a double play. Padres 3-1.

Padres ninth – Can't throw strikes
Tyler Johnson pitched. Josh Barfield drew a one-out walk. Gonzalez also walked, so La Russa went to Brad Thompson. He didn't get some close calls on Cameron, who walked to load the bases. Khalil Greene fanned.

Cards ninth – Nary a whimper
Career major league saves leader Trevor Hoffman came on to close out the Cardinals, which he did in short order.

In conclusion
Chris Young was too tough for the Cardinals hitters and the Padres' relievers were just as good. Chris Duncan looked lost in left field, sun or not and Albert Pujols had a rare off-day at the plate. Of course, so did Scott Rolen, Juan Encarnacion

Upcoming action – tentative (times CDT)
Game Matchup Day Date Time TV
NLDS Game 4: SD (Peavy or Williams) @ STL (Carpenter) Sun Oct. 8 noon* ESPN
NLDS Game 5**: STL @ SD Mon Oct. 9 3:00 p.m. FOX
* 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 brwalton@earthlink.net.

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