NLCS Game Two – Fri. 10/13 – Cards 9-6

The St. Louis Cardinals evened up the NLCS by coming back to defeat the New York Mets 9-6 at Shea Stadium on Friday night. The Cardinals survived a subpar outing by Chris Carpenter. Scott Spiezio plated three runs and So Taguchi hit a huge home run in the ninth to enable the Cards to take the lead for the first and only time.

Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter did not make the decision to start him over Jeff Suppan a good one. Carp allowed five runs in five innings on six hits and four walks. He also hit a batter. The big damage occurred via Carlos Beltran's two home runs.

The offense used their few hits wisely and got big ones when needed. Three extra-base hits plated the first six runs. Yadier Molina drove in the first two with a double, Jim Edmonds the second pair on a home run and Scott Spiezio's two-run triple evened up the game at six.

The game was won in the ninth as So Taguchi slammed a solo home run and was joined by RBIs by Spiezio and Juan Encarnacion to tag closer Billy Wagner with the loss. Josh Kinney picked up the win in relief.

One year ago today
On October 13, 2005, the Houston Astros defeated the Cardinals 4-1 in Game Two of the NLCS at Busch Stadium, taking away home field advantage in a Series they would eventually win in six games. Roy Oswalt bested Mark Mulder. Albert Pujols' solo home run accounted for the only St. Louis tally.

The match-up
Chris Carpenter (15-8, 3.09; 2-0, 2.03) vs. John Maine (6-5, 3.60; 0-0, 2.08).

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan (LF), Pujols, Edmonds, Spiezio (3B), Encarnacion, Belliard, Molina and Carpenter.
In: Chris Duncan, Scott Spiezio
Out: Preston Wilson, Scott Rolen
Jim Edmonds moved from fifth to cleanup as Game One clean-up man Juan Encarnacion dropped to sixth.

On to the game…

Cards first – In order
Pujols flied out to right on the first pitch he saw to end a 1-2-3 inning.

Mets first – Deep trouble
Leading off, Jose Reyes doubled into the right field corner. Paul Lo Duca immediately bunted him over. Carlos Beltran walked to put runners on the corners. Carlos Delgado then put a 1-1 offering into the seats in left-center. David Wright walked, which brought Dave Duncan out to the mound for a conversation. Shawn Green hit a chopper to Belliard. Wright, caught between first and second, stopped and ducked down. That forced Belliard to throw to first. The batter was out, but after Pujols threw to second, Eckstein's slap tag missed Wright. A fly ball next made it a moot point. Mets 3-0.

Cards second – Most of it back
Edmonds walked to start the inning right. Spiezio chopped a ball that Delgado made a fielding error on. Encarnacion walked to load the bases with one out. Belliard's pop-up hurt a lot. Molina picked up his mates with a two-run double down the right field line. With Carpenter coming up next, I wonder why Encarnacion couldn't score from first. Carp fanned on a pitch that looked low. Eckstein hit a blooper to short center for the third out. Mets 3-2.

Mets second – Another run
Endy Chavez led off with a double down the right field line. Maine expertly bunted him over and almost legged out a hit as Molina's throw to Belliard covering first was high. Reyes singled the run home. Spiezio made a nice stop on Lo Duca's shot and his low throw was scooped in time by Pujols. Carp fanned Beltran for the third out. Mets 4-2.

Cards third – Game tied
Duncan fanned. Pujols walked. Jim Edmonds provided the Cards with huge boost by a home run that just cleared the wall in center. Spiezio walked, but Maine buckled down to secure the final two outs. Tie 4-4.

Mets third – Two more runners
David Wright drew a one-out walk. Green also walked, but Jose Valentin grounded into a double play.

Cards fourth – Runner stranded on third
Eckstein walked with two out. He stole second base and when Lo Duca's throw went into centerfield, Eckstein went into third without a throw. Duncan couldn't get the run home as he struck out again.

Mets fourth – Another runner
Batting for Maine, Michael Tucker was hit on the thigh with a pitch with one out. Reyes grounded into a force out as Belliard tossed the ball to Eckstein with his glove hand. Lo Duca grounded out.

Cards fifth – Into the pen
Submariner Chad Bradford struck out Pujols on the way to a 1-2-3 inning.

Mets fifth – At least it was solo
With one out, Delgado hit his second home run of the night over the left field fence. Wright legged out ball as Belliard didn't field his grounder cleanly and took an error. La Russa came out to argue, but replays showed the runner safe. Green singled to right as Wright had to stop at second. Duncan came out to talk as Brad Thompson began to throw in the bullpen. Chavez grounder to third ended the threat. Mets 5-4.

Cards sixth – Carp done
Bradford fanned Encarnacion. Molina singled to left with two outs, which led to Carpenter being removed from the game for pinch-hitter John Rodriguez. New pitcher Pedro Feliciano retired J-Rod on two pitches.

Mets sixth – Walk kills
Josh Hancock pitched. Reyes walked with one out. Lo Duca doubled down the left field line to score the speedy Reyes without a throw. Exit Hancock. Enter Randy Flores. Belliard made a tremendous effort, ranging almost to the shortstop position before throwing out Beltran at first. Mets 6-4.

Cards seventh – Spiezio's clutch hit
Off Guillermo Mota, Pujols singled to left with one out. Endy Chavez made a great play to hold Pujols to a single. Apparently because Delgado never has to stop a first base given his home runs, and Pujols hadn't hit until now, the two began to chat it up at first base. Hello? This is a two-run game at a critical time! Get in the game! Edmonds walked, which brought Mets manager Willie Randolph out to chat. Spiezio's shot to deep right would have been a home run, but the ball hit off Green's glove, then hit the top of the wall and bounced back onto the field of play. The initial call was not a home run. But, after the Cardinals protested, the six umpires convened a conference. They stuck with the original call of a two-run triple. Aaron Heilman took over. Tie 6-6.

Mets seventh – A runner
Jose Valentin singled with two out past a diving Eckstein. He was stranded.

Cards eighth – Lead RISP
Against Aaron Heilman, Molina singled past third base with one out. Preston Wilson pinch hit and whiffed. Molina took second base on a wild pitch, but Eckstein couldn't get him in.

Mets eighth – Kinney in and out of trouble
Josh Kinney faced Julio Franco as So Taguchi took over in left for Duncan. Reyes singled up the middle with one out. Lo Duca walked, but Kinney induced a huge inning-ending double play.

Cards ninth – So terrific!
Mets closer Billy Wagner took over. So Taguchi stunned the crowd with a lead off solo home run into the left field bullpen. Not the guy he replaced, Chris Duncan, but So Taguchi! Pujols shot a ball to left, and aggressively took second before the throw could come in. Edmonds moved him to third with one out. Spiezio doubled down the left field line to plate Pujols. Encarnacion's single scored Spiezio. Roberto Hernandez came in to get the final out. Cards 9-6.

Mets ninth – Closed out
Tyler Johnson faced the lefty Delgado and struck him out. Adam Wainwright was next. Scott Rolen, who came in defensively, made a great diving catch and throw for the second out. Shawn Green's ground out ended the game.

In conclusion
In a rare poor outing by Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals came back to tie the game on a clutch two-run triple by Scott Spiezio. And in the ninth, there were several heroes, including So Taguchi, Scott Spiezio and Juan Encarnacion as the Cards evened up the Series.

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

Sat., Oct. 14, 6:30 p.m.	Busch Stadium (Trachsel vs. Suppan)
Sun., Oct. 15, 6:30 p.m.	Busch Stadium (Perez vs. Reyes)
Mon., Oct. 16, 7:00 p.m.	Busch Stadium (Glavine vs. Weaver)
Wed., Oct. 18, 3:00 p.m.*#	Shea Stadium (Trachsel vs. Carpenter)
Thu., Oct. 19, 7:00 p.m.#	Shea Stadium (Suppan vs. Maine)
* Moves to 7:00 p.m. if ALCS is over on or before 10/17 
# If necessary




Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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