World Series Game 4 – Thu. 10/26 – Cards 5-4

The St. Louis Cardinals took the fourth game of the 2006 World Series shading the Detroit Tigers by a 5-4 score at Busch Stadium on Thursday night and leading the Series three games to one. David Eckstein was the hero, with four hits, including three doubles and the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the eighth.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jeff Suppan did not pitch his best game, allowing three runs on eight hits over six innings. After his team came back, Braden Looper was charged with the fourth run in the eighth to re-tie the game. Adam Wainwright earned the win in relief.

The bats of two previously-quiet players spoke loudly with five doubles between them. David Eckstein had three of them among his four hits, scoring one and driving in two, including the lead run in the eighth. Scott Rolen had two doubles and scored once. Preston Wilson also contributed a key RBI in the seventh.

The match-up
NLCS MVP Jeff Suppan (12-7, 4.12; 1-1, 1.86) vs. Jeremy Bonderman (14-8, 4.08; 1-0, 3.00).

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan (RF), Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, Wilson (LF), Molina, Miles and Suppan.
In: Chris Duncan and Aaron Miles.
Out: So Taguchi and Ron Belliard.
It is the same line-up that was scheduled to go before the rain out Wednesday. Despite doing an uncharacteristically good job taking pitches in the #2 hole in Game Three, Preston Wilson was dropped down to #6 with Chris Duncan playing. Joe Buck quoted La Russa as saying he let Duncan decide in which corner outfield position he would play. Aaron Miles received his second start of the Series over Ronnie Belliard.

On to the game…

Tigers first – Hot soup
Eckstein was involved in the first two putouts. Carlos Guillen fanned on three pitches to complete the seven-pitch frame.

Cards first – Promising start
Jim Edmonds was shown in the dugout talking with Dave Duncan, perhaps sharing thoughts about Bonderman. Leading off, David Eckstein missed a home run foul to left before a swinging bunt base hit toward third base. Eckstein saw nine pitches before getting on base. But, Duncan quickly grounded into a double play. Pujols looked helpless, taking a called strike three to end the inning.

Tigers second – Long ball
Sean Casey homered into the Cardinals bullpen in right. Ivan Rodriguez singled. He tagged up and took second on a fly ball to Edmonds, a bad nonchalant play by the centerfielder. He seemed to yell at Duncan in right, telling him to call out when the runner is moving. Seems to me that Edmonds should assume he will and there wouldn't be a problem. Brandon Inge took an intentional walk for the Cards to get to Bonderman, who grounded out. Tigers 1-0.

Cards second – In order
Rolen flied out the track in right for the second out of a 1-2-3 inning.

Tigers third – Two, two-out RBI
Edmonds' play in the second comes to roost as Curtis Granderson doubled into the right field corner leading off. Suppan walked Guillen with one out. Casey's single into the right field corner brought home the second run. Rodriguez also singled to right to plate another. Duncan the jacketed came out for a chat with (in the) Soup, who finally secured the third out. Tigers 3-0.

Cards third – Eck – yes, Albert - no
Miles singled to short center. Suppan missed a hit-and-run, but Miles just beat the throw and was credited with a stolen base. Eckstein's two-out gap double to left center scored the ‘Birds first run. Chris Duncan did what he has done so well previously, patiently drawing a walk. Pujols weakly grounded out 5-3 on a jam shot. Tigers 3-1.

Tigers fourth – Two Ks
Suppan fanned the last two, including Granderson swinging.

Cards fourth – Got one back
Rolen ripped a double into left. Craig Monroe slightly misplayed the ball, given the hustling runner the time he needed to slide in head first just before the throw arrived. He took third on Wilson's ground out. Molina shot a screamer over third base and into the corner. The double scored Rolen. Miles was walked intentionally to get to Suppan. It worked for Detroit as it did for St. Louis in the second. Tigers 3-2.

Tigers fifth – Jam averted
Guillen singled sharply to right with one out. Tyler Johnson began to warm up. Josh Kinney joined him. A single by Casey put runners at the corners with two down. Suppan got Rodriguez on a fielders' choice to end the inning.

Cards fifth – Runner walked
With two down, Pujols walked on four pitches. Edmonds fanned swinging.

Tigers sixth – Another threat
Brandon Inge singled through the box with one out. Despite not hitting regularly or well, Bonderman bunted the runner into scoring position. That was it, though.

Cards sixth – Two big Ks
Rolen again doubled into the left field corner. Wilson bunted him over. Molina walked to put runners on the corners with one out. Fernando Rodney came in for an unhappy Verlander and fanned Miles. I would like to have seen the pinch hitter a batter sooner. But then, John Rodriguez hit for Suppan and also struck out.

Tigers seventh – Tyler does his job
Kinney pitched. Though his break was a tad late, Wilson made a nice sliding catch just off the grass on a sinker off the bat of Monroe leading off. Guillen walked as Looper joined Johnson warming up. Guillen swiped second base. Ordonez fanned on Kinney's trademark slider. Johnson came in to get the lefty Casey, which he did.

Cards seventh – Error means lead taken
Leading off, Eckstein got a gift double as Granderson slipped and fell down in centerfield. Hitting for Duncan, Taguchi laid down a great bunt. Rodney still had time, but fired the ball over Polanco's large head covering first. The tying run scored as So took second. Pujols was walked intentionally with first base open. Edmonds and Rolen both fanned, but Wilson picked them up with an RBI single to left. Pujols ran into the third out between second and third, but caused the cutoff, enabling the run to score. Cards 4-3.

Tigers eighth – Looper scooper
Leading off against Braden Looper, Pudge doubled into the left field despite a good attempt by Wilson defensively. He was bunted to third. Exit Looper, enter Adam Wainwright, along with Juan Encarnacion for Wilson in a double switch. A one-hopper off the wall in center by the #8 hitter Inge re-tied the game. Luis Gomez and Granderson whiffed. Tie 4-4.

Cards eighth – Eckstein is the man!
Joel Zumaya took over on the mound and he walked Molina to start the inning. Leyland came out for a meeting with his infielders. Miles grounded weakly to third, eliminating the lead runner. Encarnacion was out, striking out wildly. At least Miles moved up as the ball eluded Rodriguez. Eckstein doubled to left center as his line drive just bounced off the tip of his glove. Cards 5-4.

Tigers ninth – Done
A perfect ninth for Wainwright. Fittingly, Eckstein started the final out on a 6-3.

In conclusion
David Eckstein came up huge, with his go-ahead RBI double in the bottom of the eighth, bringing the Cardinals back to victory. The Tigers are at serious risk of not getting back home for Game Six.

Upcoming action (times CDT) – probable pitchers
World Series Schedule (All games on FOX, times Eastern)
G5 Fri, Oct. 27 @ 8:00 p.m. - St. Louis (Weaver vs. Verlander)
G6 Sat, Oct. 28 @ 7:30 p.m.# - Detroit (Carpenter vs. Rogers)
G7 Sun, Oct. 29 @ 7:30 p.m.# - Detroit (Reyes? vs. Robertson)
# if necessary



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

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