The Cardinals and Thompson were nearly behind in the run department as early as the second inning, but a stellar defensive play (one of two on the night) from left fielder Chris Duncan prevented a run from scoring and gave St. Louis a bit of momentum. After right fielder Brad Hawpe hit a ground rule double with one out, Thompson walked catcher Yorvit Torrealba. With two on, second baseman Omar Quintanilla singled and Hawpe came around third trying to score. Duncan got a glove on the base hit in left field and fired the ball to home plate in time for catcher Yadier Molina to apply the tag. It was Duncan's first outfield assist of the season.
Thompson induced nine ground ball outs from the Rockies. The one Colorado hitter who gave him trouble was left fielder Matt Holliday. Holliday has a batting average of .374 so far in 2007, but his career average against the Cardinals was even higher - .407 heading into Tuesday's contest. Holliday went 3-for-4 at the plate, starting off with a first-inning double to the right field corner. The real damage was not done until the third inning though, when Holliday belted a solo home run to give the young Rockies team a one-run lead.
Thompson was able to maintain that 1-0 deficit through the fifth inning. In the sixth, he was relieved by pitcher Tyler Johnson, who also received some defensive support from Duncan. After Holliday earned another double off Johnson, Duncan saved another run from scoring by making a diving catch to rob first baseman Todd Helton of an extra-base hit. The Cardinals escaped unscathed again thanks to Duncan's glove, but this time St. Louis would take advantage of the momentum swing.
In the seventh inning with one out, centerfielder Jim Edmonds collected his third base hit of the night. Molina singled and shortstop David Eckstein was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and for the first time in 2007, Scott Spiezio showed the Cardinals a flash of his brilliant 2006 campaign as a pinch-hitter. Spiezio entered the game for Johnson and took reliever Alberto Arias' pitch to right field for a two-run double. The Cardinals did not stop with a one-run lead, though, as second baseman Adam Kennedy (who was placed as the leadoff hitter again on Tuesday) singled safely to bring home two more runs. Up 4-1 on Spiezio and Kennedy's RBI hits, the Cardinals turned to the bullpen.
Ryan Franklin pitched the eighth inning, allowing one hit that was erased very quickly when third baseman Garrett Atkins hit into an inning-ending double play. Jason Isringhausen came in for the ninth frame and picked up his ninth save of the season by retiring all three batters he faced.
Kelvin Jimenez notched his first MLB victory with 1.1 innings pitched. Brad Thompson did very well in five innings, striking out two and giving up just the one run and six hits. Adam Wainwright pitches Wednesday afternoon opposite Rockies' starter Jason Hirsh.
- Players of the Game: Chris Duncan, Scott Spiezio, Brad Thompson. Duncan saved the Cardinals from being down 3-1 in the seventh inning and having the momentum taken away from them with two defensive gems. His glove gave the Cardinals the chance to win. Spiezio's clutch RBI double came at the best time possible. Thompson had to be nervous to start after only pitching out of the bullpen so far in 2007, but he did a wonderful job of containing a young Rockies' lineup that seems to really tear apart St. Louis pitching.
- Albert Pujols continues to struggle. He hit into both of the Cardinals' double plays, including one that ended the seventh inning with two baserunners remaining on the basepaths. He is now in the midst of an 0-for-14 streak of futility at the plate.
- Jason Isringhausen is really pitching well but he probably will not get noticed until he gets more save opportunities, but so far he has made the most of the chances he has received. Ryan Franklin has done well, also. Isringhausen's ERA rests at 2.02 while Franklin's is a stellar 1.20.
Brady Holzhauer can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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