April 18 – Giants 6, Cardinals 5 (12)

The St. Louis Cardinals faced former teammate Matt Morris and his San Francisco Giants by the Bay on Wednesday night. The Cards eventually fell in the bottom of the 12th inning after Albert Pujols was tagged out on a botched attempt to steal home in the top of the frame.

Giants starter Matt Morris looked good early on, getting through the Cardinals' number one through six hitters without incident, including a strikeout of Albert Pujols to end the first. However, after his team had staked him to a 1-0 lead on a Pedro Feliz RBI single in the home second, Morris ran into trouble in the top of the third.

The bottom of the Cards order set the table, with a walk by Yadier Molina and a Skip Schumaker single. On a Randy Keisler dribbler, Morris tried to get the lead runner at third, but his throw shot off Feliz' glove into left field for an error by the third baseman. Molina came home on the play to tie the game. Schumaker then scored on a David Eckstein ground out.

Morris may have thought he was out of trouble when he fanned Chris Duncan on a wicked curve for the second out. However, Pujols reminded us all why he is Albert Pujols, as he shot a low, inside offering far beyond the left field corner. The two-run blast was Albert's fourth home run of the season and put the Cards up 4-1. While it is a small consolation to Morris, the runs were unearned.

The Giants didn't give up as they pecked away at Keisler with single runs in each of the next three innings to tie the game at four runs each in the fifth, which was the lefty starter's last frame. Here's how the three runs scored:

- Molina's patented pickoff move backfired on this night as his errant throw in the bottom of the third allowed Omar Vizquel, who had singled, to take second. He scored on Todd Linden's single.

- In the fourth, Ray Durham tripled past Schumaker in right. After a pair of walks, Randy Winn's sacrifice fly scored the Giants' third run.

- Next frame, Rich Aurilia delivered the Giants' second triple in two innings. To put it in perspective, the entire Cardinals team has just one triple on the season. This one shot between Jim Edmonds and Schumaker as neither got to the ball quickly. Then, Edmonds assured the third base would be taken as he bobbled the ball slightly once it was in his glove. Aurilia scored on a Barry Bonds sac fly to knot the score.

The Cards grabbed the lead back in the seventh. With two down, Eckstein and Duncan singled. Pujols walked to end Morris' night. Reliever Jack Taschner issued a free pass to Edmonds that forced in the Cardinals' fifth run. With the bases loaded and a chance to crack the game open, Scott Spiezio flied out to deep left to end the threat. Spiezio was in the lineup for Scott Rolen, out with food poisoning.

The game was knotted again in the eighth, this time at 5-5, when new set-up man Ryan Franklin allowed his first run of the season. It was a high, arching blast to right off the bat of Bonds that landed in McCovey Cove on the fly. It was Bonds' career home run number 738.

As the game moved into extra innings, Tyler Johnson fanned Bonds looking on a beautiful slider to end the tenth. Johnson fanned three in all over two spotless frames. Duncan fanned swinging on a 3-2 Jonathan Sanchez slider to end the top of the 11th with two runners on base. It was Chris' fourth whiff of the night.

After Jason Isringhausen retired the home club in the bottom of the 11th, Albert Pujols started the 12th with a single up the middle. A high, wild pitch from Sanchez put Pujols in scoring position. Edmonds sacrificed him to third. Scott Spiezio walked before Adam Kennedy fanned with the game possibly on the line. On a 0-2 count on Molina, Pujols broke for home, but stopped halfway down the line. Giants catcher Bengie Molina bobbled the high throw from Sanchez, but had enough time to recover and tag out the sliding Albert. Had Pujols kept going in the first place, I honestly think he would have scored. His hesitation likely did him in.

Josh Hancock pitched the bottom of the 12th. Leading off, Randy Winn reached on an infield single. Former Cardinal Mark Sweeney bunted him to second. Omar Vizquel walked. Hancock fanned Linden on a full-count breaking ball. Like Duncan, Linden had four Ks on the night. Aurilia was next up with Bonds on deck. He got a fastball to hit on a 1-1 count, driving a line drive to left center that ended another disappointing game for the defending World Champions.

Giants 6, Cardinals 5. With the loss, the Cards fell to 6-8 on the season, one game ahead of the last-place Cubs, their upcoming weekend opponent at Wrigley.

Thursday's game will feature Kip Wells versus the Giants' Noah Lowry at 2:35 P.M. Central on FSN Midwest and KTRS 550. The Cardinals will be trying to sacrifice a tie in the short two-game series.



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

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