Rafael Furcal led off the home first with a double into the left field corner for his 15th hit in his last 17 at-bats. A sacrifice and a Nomar Garciaparra single past the pulled-in shortstop scored the first run. David Eckstein then made a diving stop for the third out with runners at the corners or it would have been worse.
Yadier Molina just missed a home run leading off the third as the ball bounced off the top of the wall. He settled for a double. Aaron Miles brought him home with a two-out single to tie the game. After Juan Encarnacion legged out an infield single, Albert Pujols was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Then on the same play, a wild pitch and a throwing error by catcher Russell Martin were good for two Cardinals runs. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.
Andre Ethier doubled leading off the fourth. After Furcal reached base again, this time via a walk, Juan Pierre drove in the second Dodgers run with a clean single.
As he does periodically, Tony La Russa did his "let the starter stay in too long in a misguided attempt to get him the win" routine. Russell Martin singled and stole second base with one out in the fifth. Ethier was intentionally walked as Wells was trying to hang on for two more outs and secure a win. He had already thrown 114 pitches. The move failed as a wild pitch put both runners in scoring position. Martin was caught in a rundown between third and home as LaRoche reached via a fielders' choice. Three runs scored as pinch-hitter Wilson Betemit homered to dead center on pitch #120. With it, Wells was pretty much dead, too.
Scott Rolen doubled with two out in the seventh, and pinch-hitter Scott Spiezio delivered the RBI with a single to center. It was the third straight inning the Cardinals had a runner in scoring position, but the first of the three they cashed in. Still, they were down by one run, 5-4.
The big guns were up in the ninth for the Cards' last chance. Leading off against Dodgers closer Takashi Saito, Juan Encarnacion reached via his third infield single of the game. Pujols took strike three looking for his team's 11th K on the evening. Rolen became the runner at first after a force out grounder. With Jim Edmonds on deck, Spiezio popped out in foul ground to end the game.
Looking ahead, the Cardinals may have caught a small break when the Detroit Tigers' Friday night scheduled pitcher, Jeremy Bonderman, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday due to a blister on his pitching hand. On the other hand, his replacement is the Tigers' first-round pick from 2006, lefty Andrew Miller, up from Double-A to make his first-ever MLB start.
- Wells came into the game having pitched with the lead for only two innings since April 8. That trend finally changed in the third inning as his offense scored twice, but only lasted for two more frames before the game caved in on Wells in the fifth.
- When David Eckstein singled into left field with one out in the sixth, it extended his recent resurgence at the plate by going seven for his last ten in total. After popping out in the eighth, he finished the night 2-for-4.
- Due to MLB's crazy scheduling, the Cardinals are taking a red-eye flight into Detroit, scheduled to arrive at 8:00 A.M. Thursday. The team is off until Friday night.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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