NLCS Game Seven – Thu. 10/19 – Cards 3-1

The St. Louis Cardinals took the deciding NLCS Game Seven in defeating the New York Mets by a 3-1 score at Shea Stadium on Thursday night. Jeff Suppan pitched seven innings of one-run ball. Yadier Molina provided the winning edge on a two-run home run in the top of the ninth. The Cardinals-Tigers World Series starts on Saturday night in Detroit.

Starting pitcher Jeff Suppan pitched masterfully, allowing a single run over seven-plus innings. He did walk five hitters, but yielded just two hits. Randy Flores got three tough outs in the eighth for the win and Adam Wainwright collected a shaky save with the winning run on base in the ninth.

Scott Rolen's bid for a two-run home run in the seventh was brought back into the park by Endy Chavez. Yadier Molina replicated the feat in the top of the ninth, but in the immortal words of Bud Selig's cronies, this time it counted.

One year ago today
On October 19, 2005, the Astros beat the Cardinals 5-1 to win the NLCS four games to two in the final game of Busch Stadium II. Roy Oswalt bested Mark Mulder.

The match-up
Jeff Suppan vs. Oliver Perez.

The line-up
Eckstein, Wilson (LF), Pujols, Encarnacion, Edmonds, Rolen, Molina, Belliard and Suppan.

On to the game…

Cards first – First RISP stranded
Wilson took a called strike three. Pujols' blooper on the infield was dropped by Delgado, enabling him to take second. He was stranded.

Mets first – Out on top
With two out, Beltran hustled a double as the ball went into the left field corner. Delgado worked a full-count walk. Wright's bloop single to right scored the first run. Mets 1-0..

Cards second – Tied
Edmonds hit the first pitch of the inning to right for a single. Molina sliced a single to left to put runners at the corners with one out. Belliard's bunt to the right side scored Edmonds. Tie 1-1.

Mets second – 7-8-9 for 1-2-3
The bottom three went down in order.

Cards third – Another RISP wasted
Eckstein doubled into the left field corner leading off. Pujols was given an intentional walk with one out. The gamble paid off, as Encarnacion grounded into a double play.

Mets third – Top three
Reyes, Lo Duca and Beltran were retired.

Cards fourth – Settling in
No runners for the Cards.

Mets fourth – Two more reach
Delgado walked and was erased on a Wright ground ball. Valentin was hit by a pitch on a ball that bounced. Neither scored.

Cards fifth – Two more left
Belliard led off with a single to left. Eckstein was hit on the foot with one down just after Endy Chavez narrowly missed catching his foul ball in left. After Wilson looked bad again, striking out for the third time, the Mets elected to pitch to Pujols, who popped out.

Mets fifth – Look out!
As the rain came down, Wilson and Edmonds collided when making the third out. Earlier, Encarnacion and Belliard almost had a bad crash.

Cards sixth – Two-run robbery
After Edmonds walked, Rolen slammed a ball to left. Endy Chavez reached over the wall to bring back the home run and to top it off, threw back to first base for the double play.

Mets sixth – Jam dodged
Delgado walked. Rolen made a throwing error on Wright's grounder to put two in scoring position. Green was walked intentionally to load the bases with one out. Suppan escaped by striking out Valentin, then retired Chavez on a fly to Edmonds.

Cards seventh – Hustle and not
Again Chad Bradford, Suppan hustled down the line one out after Belliard did not.

Mets seventh – In order
Suppan continues strongly, with two hits allowed and 99 pitches thrown.

Cards eighth – No help for Pujols
Aaron Heilman pitched next. Spiezio fanned hitting for Wilson. Pujols was intentionally walked with two down. Encarnacion swung wildly and missed a low inside pitch for strike three.

Mets eighth – Flores fine
Beltran walked leading off. Suppan departed for Flores, who did a great job getting out of the inning.

Cards ninth – Yadi!
Rolen singled to left with one down. Yadier Molina's home run landed in the Cardinals in the bullpen in left, just a few feet further than Rolen's had in the seventh. Cards 3-1.

Mets ninth – It's over
Valentin and Chavez singled leading off against Adam Wainwright. Cliff Floyd took strike three on a hook. Reyes flied out to center. Lo Duca walked to load the bases with two out. Carlos Beltran fanned looking on another devastating curveball – one that ruined the Mets' season.

Upcoming action (times CDT) – probable pitchers
World Series Schedule (All games on FOX, times Eastern)
Sat, Oct. 21 @ 7:30 p.m. – Detroit (Weaver)
Sun, Oct. 22 @ 7:30 p.m. – Detroit (Carpenter)
Tue, Oct. 24 @ 8:00 p.m. - St. Louis (Suppan)
Wed, Oct. 25 @ 8:00 p.m. - St. Louis (Reyes?)
Thu, Oct. 26 @ 8:00 p.m.# - St. Louis
Sat, Oct. 28 @ 7:30 p.m.# - Detroit
Sun, Oct. 29 @ 7:30 p.m.# - Detroit
# if necessary



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

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