St. Louis hit Padres' pitcher Chris Young early, plating five runs in the third frame. It started with Looper's one-out double after shortstop David Eckstein popped out to lead off the inning. Second baseman Adam Kennedy singled to move Looper to third in the next at-bat, and with runners on the corners, left fielder Chris Duncan drew a walk to load the bases. First baseman Albert Pujols came to the plate and hit a deep fly ball to left field that appeared to be a home run off the bat. What would have been a grand slam had the ball traveled about two more feet ended up as a sacrifice fly at the wall, but San Diego left fielder Terrmel Sledge dropped the ball, allowing Looper to score from third base. It was Pujols' 19th RBI of the young season.
Still in the third, centerfielder Jim Edmonds lined out to deep center for another RBI sac-fly (Edmonds' eighth RBI), and with two outs, third baseman Scott Rolen took ball four for the second walk of the inning. With the bases loaded again, right fielder So Taguchi hit a double to left field. Sledge was again involved, as he just missed a running catch when the ball tipped off the top of his glove webbing. All three runs scored, and the Cardinals went up 5-0 for what would be the final margin of victory.
Looper pitched seven innings and struck out seven while allowing only three base hits. He walked just one. In the process, his season ERA dropped to 2.29. Russ Springer relieved Looper and tossed one inning, allowing one hit and striking out one. Tyler Johnson pitched the ninth and lowered his ERA to 0.69 in 13 innings pitched this season.
Edmonds went 2-for-4 and was the only Cardinals' hitter with multiple base hits. Rolen now is two for his last 37 at-bats after going 0-for-2 with two walks on Saturday.
- So Taguchi is 19-for-35 in his career when he comes to the plate with the bases loaded – that's a .543 average with the bases juiced. That is an incredible stat, as he came through again with that three-run double in the third inning on Saturday.
- Braden Looper is now 5-2 with a 2.29 ERA. Those are All-Star-type numbers. Obviously they are not Cy Young Award type stats, but Looper is clearly the ace of this pitching rotation right now. Only Adam Wainwright and Looper have more than one win this season (Wainwright is 3-2), but Looper is the only Cardinals' starter with an ERA under 5.00 (not counting Brad Thompson's ERA of 4.03 in just one start).
- Sunday's rubber match features Anthony Reyes (0-5) and Justin Germano (0-0). The first pitch is set for 3:05 PM CDT. Both pitchers are looking to notch their first win in 2007, but Germano has made only one start so far.
Brady Holzhauer can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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