NLCS Game Five – Tue. 10/17 – Cards 4-2

The St. Louis Cardinals took the NLCS lead at three games to two in defeating the New York Mets by a 4-2 score at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night. Jeff Weaver pitched six innings of two-run ball. The Series returns to New York with the Cardinals needing just one win on either Wednesday or Thursday to keep playing.

Starting pitcher Jeff Weaver again gave the Cardinals a solid performance, going six innings. He allowed two runs on six hits and two walks and kept the ball in the park. Josh Kinney, Randy Flores and Adam Wainwright handled the final three scoreless innings, with the latter getting the four-out save.

Among the offense's heroes were Albert Pujols and Chris Duncan, who hit solo home runs. Preston Wilson contributed an RBI double and Ron Belliard also plated a run.

One year ago today
On October 16, 2005, the Houston Astros took a commanding three games to one lead over the Cardinals in the NLCS, winning a hard-fought 2-1 contest at Minute Maid. Jeff Suppan started and Jason Marquis gave up an unearned run and took the loss in relief. Albert Pujols had two of the five Cards hits and the lone RBI.

October 17, 2005 was the famous Pujols-Lidge game. Need I say more?

The match-up
Jeff Weaver (5-4, 5.18; 0-1, 3.18) vs. Tom Glavine (15-7, 3.82; 1-0, 0.00).

The line-up
Eckstein, Wilson (LF), Pujols, Encarnacion, Rolen, Edmonds, Belliard, Molina and Weaver.
Out: Scott Spiezio
In: Preston Wilson
Only one change in the top eight.

On to the game…

Mets first – Trouble averted
Jose Reyes led off with a first-pitch single to deep short. Eckstein got to the ball, but had no chance to throw out the speedy runner. This time, against Paul LoDuca Eckstein made a diving stop to his right and erased Reyes at second base. Tony La Russa and trainer Barry Weinberg came out to check on Eckstein's left shoulder. The shortstop remained in the game. Beltran singled through the right side to put two on. Delgado's bouncer on the infield erased Beltran at second. Runners on the corners with two out. Wright fanned for the third out.

Cards first – RISP
Eckstein singled to right leading off and stole second base with two down. But, Encarnacion couldn't bring him in.

Mets second – Them, too
Endy Chavez doubled into the left field corner with two out. He was stranded.

Cards second – Ugly ball
Rolen led off with a single to right. Edmonds weakly waved at an outside pitch, fanning. Belliard then looked bad on a check swing inside pitch as Rolen took off for second. It started and ended badly as the strike-em out, throw-em out ended the inning.

Mets third – In order
Three balls in the air for three outs.

Cards third – Ditto
Three up and down.

Mets fourth – Leadoff walk hurts
The start of the inning was delayed several minutes as the first base bag had to be replaced. Delgado led off with a walk that visibly irritated Weaver. Shawn Green doubled on the right field line. Fan interference kept Delgado at third base. Jose Valentin doubled on the next pitch over Pujols' head and also into the right field corner. Two runs scored. Mets 2-0.

Cards fourth – Impression made
With one out, Pujols hit a solo home run that just cleared the wall in left. Rolen drew a two-out walk. Edmonds singled to right, putting two on with two out. Belliard's seeing-eye single through the right side scored Rolen without a throw. Molina seemed very anxious to take a walk to load the bases, but Weaver was up next. The Mets got Chad Bradford up in the bullpen before Weaver grounded into a fielders' choice. Tie 2-2.

Mets fifth – Huge out
Randy Flores warmed up in the Cardinals pen. Lo Duca singled to right with one out. La Russa stayed with Weaver, who retired Delgado on a pop-up.

Cards fifth – Great chance missed
Eckstein showed bunt, then swung away. His blooper just stretched over a leaping Reyes' glove for a leadoff single. Wilson blasted a ball to right center that went to the wall. The double scored Eckstein. Pujols was intentionally walked, officially ending Glavine's night. After twice failing to bunt, Encarnacion blooped a single to right to load the bases with no out. Rolen twice missed what might have been doubles to right before striking out. Lefty Pedro Feliciano was brought in to face Jim Edmonds. It worked for the Mets as Edmonds bounced to Delgado, who easily threw home to get the lead runner. Belliard flied out to left to finish wasting a great opportunity. Cards 3-2.

Mets sixth – Inspired play
After Weaver battled David Wright to a full count, the third baseman grounded to Rolen, who came in hard and just threw out his opposite number. Pujols made a very good play to his left on Shawn Green for the second out. Valentin walked, but Weaver retired Chavez.

Cards sixth – Light my fire
Hitting for Weaver, Chris Duncan lit up Feliciano with a home run to right on a full-count offering, providing a much-needed spark for the Cardinals once again. Cards 4-2.

Mets seventh – Josh great
Josh Kinney fanned Michael Tucker and Jose Reyes and got Lo Duca on a chopper to second.

Cards seventh – Another RISP
Encarnacion walked with one out against Roberto Hernandez. He moved up on a wild pitch with two down. With first base open, Edmonds was walked intentionally. Belliard hit into a force out.

Mets eighth – Three relievers, three outs
La Russa stayed with Kinney, who rewarded him by fanning Beltran with a breaking ball. Delgado singled to Belliard deep in the hole with one out. Adam Wainwright joined Randy Flores throwing in the pen. David Wright's full-count double off the left field wall silenced the crowd. La Russa called on Flores to face Green. Edmonds made a good running catch coming straight in, as the runners had to stay put. Wainwright and Miles came in on a double switch. The closer will be asked to get four outs. He froze Valentin on one of his trademark curve balls to end the inning.

Cards eighth – Triple wasted
Miles tripled into the right field corner with one out against Guillermo Mota. Eckstein bunted a squeeze attempt foul, as the ball partially hit his right hand. La Russa and Weinberg came out again to check on the gritty shortstop. He popped out to second base and Wilson chopped out to Reyes.

Mets ninth – New sheriff in town
Wainwright retired pinch-hitter Cliff Floyd for the second out as Pujols won a race to the bag between the two gimpy players. Reyes was the final out, striking out swinging.

Upcoming action (times CDT) – probable pitchers
NLCS Schedule (All games on FOX TV, times Central)
Wed., Oct. 18, 7:00 p.m. @ Shea (Maine vs. Carpenter)
Thu., Oct. 19, 7:00 p.m.# @ Shea (Oliver/Perez/Trachsel vs. Suppan)
# If necessary

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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