NLDS Game Four – Sun. 10/08 – Cards 6-2

The St. Louis Cardinals finished off the NLDS three games to one by defeating the San Diego Padres 6-2 at Busch Stadium on Sunday night. Chris Carpenter bested former Cardinal Woody Williams. The Cardinals move on to the National League Championship Series starting on Wednesday at New York's Shea Stadium.

Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter went seven-plus innings. He allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks. He fanned five. Tyler Johnson and Josh Kinney escaped a two-on, no out jam Carp left behind. Adam Wainwright finished up again.

The offense had a truly balanced performance, with only one player with two hits, Yadier Molina. Ron Belliard had the only multi-RBI performance, with a huge two-run double to tie the game right after the Padres had taken the lead. Juan Encarnacion tripled, scored and drove in a run. Albert Pujols went hitless for the second straight game.

One year ago today
On October 8, 2005, the Cardinals finished out their 3-0 sweep in the NLDS over the San Diego Padres and were awaiting their home field advantage NLCS match against the Wild Card Houston Astros, who at this point were leading the Atlanta Braves two games to one in their DS series.

The match-up
Chris Carpenter (1-0, 1.42) vs. former teammate (twice) Woody Williams (0-0).

The line-up
Eckstein, Wilson (LF), Pujols, Edmonds, Encarnacion, Belliard, Spiezio (3B), Molina and Carpenter.
In: Preston Wilson, Scott Spiezio.
Out: Chris Duncan, Scott Rolen.
After admitting shoulder soreness, Scott Rolen was benched in favor of Scott Spiezio. Juan Encarnacion and Ron Belliard moved up one spot. After a dreadful day in the field Saturday, Chris Duncan sat in favor of Preston Wilson.

On to the game…

Padres first – Carp in trouble
Brian Giles singled up the middle with one out as analyst Tim McCarver says Carpenter's stuff is very good. Adrian Gonzalez dropped a flare single to short center. Even playing as shallow as he does, Edmonds was unable to get it before the bounce. Josh Bard walked to load the bases. Russell Branyan forced a run in when he walked. Mike Cameron drove in the second run on a fielders' choice grounder. Branyan was erased, but Cameron legged it out to avoid a double play. Cameron stole second base without a throw as Eckstein was late to cover the bag. Two in scoring position with two out. Geoff Blum walked to reload the bases. Duncan the gloveless came out to offer encouragement to Carp as Josh Barfield stepped in. His fielders' choice at second base ended the inning. Carpenter has thrown 35 pitches so far, of which only 18 were strikes. Padres 2-0.

Cards first – Starting over
Preston Wilson sliced a one-out single to right one pitch after just missing a double to left. He moved up as Pujols was out 5-3. Edmonds was nicked by a pitch on the right arm. Encarnacion drew a walk to load the bases. The Padres pitching coach came out for a conference. Padres regular #5 starter Clay Hensley began to warm up. Belliard shot a broken-bat single to center to score two, but as the throw was cut off, he was caught between first and second to end the inning. All Belliard had to do was run back to first, as no one was covering, but he fell down. Encarnacion may have scored otherwise. Tie 2-2.

Padres second – Bounceback
A 1-2-3 inning.

Cards second – RISP missed
Molina stroked a one-out double to right-center. Hensley got up to throw again for San Diego. Two more outs followed.

Padres third – Harmless single
Pujols stabbed a Gonzalez liner for the first out. Belliard threw out Bard just a few feet away from the first base line. He had a similar chance against Branyan, but couldn't quite make the play. The two-out single broke Carp's consecutive out string at six. Cameron fanned swinging.

Cards third – Woody gets them again
Wilson and Pujols were retired before Edmonds singled. Encarnacion's fielders' choice ended it.

Padres fourth – In order again
Carp retired the 7-8-9 hitters without incident. His pitch count is 69.

Cards fourth – Three-pitch inning
Belliard, Spiezio and Molina were retired on one pitch each. Way to work the count, guys…

Padres fifth – Yadi shines again
Leading off, Dave Roberts singled to right. Wilson blocked the ball with his body to keep it in front of him. Molina gunned down Roberts trying to steal with a perfect throw to Eckstein covering second. Giles fanned looking and Gonzalez grounded out.

Cards fifth – Way too impatient
On the way to another 1-2-3, both Eckstein and Wilson were out on single pitches.

Padres sixth – Leadoff hit harmless
Bard singled to left leading off. Branyan took a called strike three. Cameron whiffed swinging on a high, hard one. Blum popped out. Pitch count = 95.

Cards sixth – Cracking it open
Pujols drew a leadoff walk. Encarnacion made them pay with a double into the right field corner to drive in the run. He took third on the throw home. McCarver called the Pads' pitching coach Darren "Ballsy"! Woody departed in favor of Cla Meredith. Belliard was hit in the hip by a pitch. Spiezio closed the book on Woody with an RBI single up the middle. Molina singled to right to load the bases as Hensley warmed up for at least the third time. Carp hit a chopper to Branyan at third. He came home, but the throw was offline as Belliard scored. Eckstein plated another on a squeeze. Wilson fanned swinging. Cards 6-2.

Padres seventh – Cruising
Carp retired his three batters faced in order. He is at 101 pitches. Wainwright better be getting ready.

Cards seventh – Can't do it every inning
Pujols struck out on the way to a 1-2-3 inning for Meredith.

Padres eighth – Relief relieves
Giles singled to right leading off. Gonzalez' gapper to right center put runners on the corners with no out. That's all for Carp. Despite Thom Brennaman announcing Josh Kinney, it was Tyler Johnson who took over. Bard fanned swinging. Josh Kinney came on to face pinch-hitter Mike Piazza, who grounded into a double play.

Cards eighth – So what?
Hensley retired the three hitters in order.

Padres ninth – Series won
Though it wasn't a formal save situation, it may as well have been as Adam Wainwright came on. Ryan Klesko doubled over Edmonds' head in straight-away center with one out. Barfield singled to put runners on the corners. That drew Duncan from the dugout. Khalil Greene took a curve ball for strike three looking. Barfield took second uncontested. Dave Roberts was the final out to Pujols unassisted.

In conclusion
The best pitcher in the league came through when he was needed most. The youngsters in the bullpen delivered. The offense came through even when Pujols didn't contribute. A great way to win the series.

Upcoming action (times CDT) - probable pitchers
NLCS Schedule (All games on FOX TV, times Central)

Wednesday, Oct. 11, 7:00 p.m.	Shea Stadium (Weaver vs. Glavine)
Thursday, Oct. 12, 7:00 p.m.	Shea Stadium (Suppan vs. Trachsel)
Saturday, Oct. 14, 3:00 p.m.	Busch Stadium (Maine vs. Carpenter)
Sunday, Oct. 15, 6:30 p.m.	Busch Stadium
Monday, Oct. 16, 7:00 p.m.	Busch Stadium (if necessary) 
Wednesday, Oct. 18, 7:00 p.m.	Shea Stadium (if necessary) 
Thursday, Oct. 19, 7:00 p.m.	Shea Stadium (if necessary) 

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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