Game 35 – Padres 3, Cardinals 0

The San Diego Padres took the rubber game of the series via their second shutout of the St. Louis Cardinals in three games. Anthony Reyes absorbed another tough loss, his sixth of the season without a win. Justin Germano dominated on the mound for the home club.

On Sunday at Petco Park in San Diego, the St. Louis Cardinals' Anthony Reyes faced the Padres' Justin Germano. The latter's second career Major League start was a superb one, as he held the Cards offense scoreless over seven innings on just three hits. With the loss, the Cards fell to 15-20, their worst start since 1986.

The right field wall was a key part of the first inning as right fielder Brian Giles leapt against it to pull down Cards leadoff man Adam Kennedy's drive. Reyes' began the game with control problems, issuing seven straight balls before Jose Cruz doubled off that same wall. Giles' fielders' choice scored the first run of the day and Adrian Gonzalez plated the second with an opposite-field single to left.

With two out in the second, Reyes again ran into trouble throwing strikes as he walked Germano and Marcus Giles. He escaped further damage on the scoreboard following a visit from pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Albert Pujols fanned swinging as Germano finished four perfect innings. Scott Rolen then singled with one out in the fifth to spoil the perfect game, but Juan Encarnacion grounded into a double play.

Marcus Giles led off the home fifth with a single to left-center. Cruz' hopper rolled past a diving Kennedy to put runners on the corners. Reyes then tried the fake-to-first move. However, the pitcher was apparently viewed to have stepped forward first. The balk call moved both runners up, including the third run crossing the plate. There was no visible argument from the Cardinals. Aaron Miles saved the fourth run with a nice over-the-shoulder catch from his shortstop position.

With Germano still having faced the minimum number of Cardinals batters with two out in the sixth, Ryan Ludwick pinch hit for Reyes. He singled as did Kennedy after him. However, Chris Duncan flied out to left to end the Cards' only threat.

Reyes ended the day having allowed five hits, three walks and three earned runs in five innings. He struck out five. Kelvin Jimenez followed with 1 2/3 scoreless innings, backed up by a nice diving play by Miles from deep short in the seventh.

Later in the same frame, with a runner on, left-hander Randy Flores yielded a bloop single to Brian Giles and a walk to Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases. Though Flores had failed to get the two lefties, La Russa stuck with him against the right-handed-hitting Khalil Greene. Flores rewarded the decision with a strikeout to escape the jam.

Having not appeared since Tuesday, Jason Isringhausen pitched the eighth to get some work in. Kennedy was handcuffed by Kevin Kouzmanoff's looping liner with one out. Izzy then plunked Rob Bowen on the elbow, putting a runner in scoring position. Working deliberately, the closer again dodged damage on the scoreboard.

After Scott Linebrink pitched the eighth, likely future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman closed out the Cardinals in the ninth. It was his 492nd career save, most of all time, and his tenth of the season.

The Cardinals now limp north to Los Angeles, where they will face the Dodgers Monday through Wednesday evenings before moving to Detroit for the weekend.

Game Notes:

- In his first official action of the season, Juan Encarnacion received the start in right field and batted sixth. He fanned looking in the second and grounded into a double play in the fifth on the way to an 0-for-3 day. Enc fit right in with the Cards' missing offense. Skip Schumaker was optioned to Memphis to make room on the 25-man roster.

- Reyes' early game woes continue as he yielded two runs in the first inning Sunday. For the season, 13 of his 23 runs allowed have come in the first two frames. In his defense, Reyes has now been given just eight runs of support in total in his seven 2007 starts. That is the lowest support provided any starting pitcher in MLB.

- For breast cancer awareness, Adam Kennedy, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen were among the players using special pink bats, which will auctioned for charity via mlb.com. Pink ribbons were worn, bases were labeled in pink, some wore pink wrist bands, including umpires, and the line-up cards were pink-hued, too. Sadly, the offense was again blue.

- In the third straight game, the losing club was shut out. The Padres outscored the Cardinals on the weekend, ten runs to five, winning two of three.



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

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