History not with the Padres

No National League team ever has won the first two games on the road in a five-game series and not won the series. On the brink of elimination the San Diego Padres turn to Chris Young.

//padres.scout.com/a.z?s=315&p=8&c=1&nid=2334578>Chris Young has not lost a decision on the road in his last 24 starts. Saturday afternoon in St. Louis would not be a good time for that streak to end. Because if it does, the Padres' 2006 season also ends.

Young takes the mound against the Cardinals' Jeff Suppan after the Padres lost the first two games of their best-of-five Division Series to St. Louis at Petco Park.

No National League team has ever advanced after losing the first two games of a NLDS at home. But when it comes to the road and Young, the Padres are not your ordinary road team.

On the Padres' side is the fact that San Diego's regular-season road record (45-36) was the second-best in the National League to the Mets' 47-34 mark and two games better than the Padres' home record. And the Padres took two of three -- the first two, mind you -- from the Cardinals in St. Louis less than two weeks ago.

As for Young, he was 6-0 on the road in 15 starts this season with a league-leading 2.41 road ERA. He also led the NL in opponents' batting average (.206).

Meantime, the Padres have scored 12 runs on 15 hits against Suppan this season in just 9 2/3 innings.

"I was happy how the regular season ended personally for me," Young said. "But that means nothing now. The pitching they've put up in these first two games in phenomenal. We have to match that."

For the Cardinals to lose the National League Division Series would be almost unprecedented. Of course, if their late season collapse had culminated in blowing the Central Division title, that would have been unprecedented, too.

But the fact of the matter is that the Cardinals, after a 2-0 triumph over the San Diego Padres in Game 2 of the Division Series on Thursday, have a 2-0 edge in games, too. No National League team ever has won the first two games on the road in a five-game series and not won the series. And only the 2001 Oakland Athletics have managed the feat in the American League.

The Cardinals have done it with pitching and defense, especially keeping the Padres hitters off balance with a succession of breaking balls. "I don't recall a staff throwing that many curveballs for strikes," San Diego left fielder Dave Roberts said.

Against a San Diego lineup stacked with eight left-handed batters, Cardinals right-hander Jeff Weaver, against whom left-handers had batted .357 this year, held the Padres to two hits and no runs for five innings.

Weaver pitched around two first-inning walks before finding himself. "To get that third out in the first inning and keep it a zero was definitely huge," said Weaver.

The Cardinals return home for Game 3 and possibly Game 4 of the series with their two best starters, right-handers Jeff Suppan and Chris Carpenter, lined up.

Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols has half as many hits (five) as the Padres' team total in the first two games while driving in three times as many runs. Pujols has had a hand in five of the seven runs the Cardinals have scored. Yet the Padres have yet to walk him once.


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