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Tag:Albert Pujols
Posted on: October 14, 2011 1:37 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:50 am
 

Hairston's perfect slide highlights Game 4

Jerry Hairston

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- The one thing Jerry Hairston Jr. knew as he rounded third base was that there was no way he was going to bowl over Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina -- and if he wasn't going to go through him, he had to go around him.

It's not easy when you're running full speed, trying to figure out when the ball is going to get to the plate and then trying to figure out a way around perhaps baseball's best defensive catcher. Not only did Hairston manage to do all three -- he did it in a huge situation, tying Game 4 of the National League Championship Series with his fourth-inning slide, as Milwaukee went on to beat St. Louis 4-2 to even the best-of-seven series at two games each.

NLCS Coverage

Hairston started on second base when Yuniesky Betancourt laced a single up the middle -- "I wish Yuni would have hit like a 35-hopper through any hole just so it would be a lot easier for me to score," Hairston said. "He hit a bullet right at Jon Jay, and I had kind of a late jump because you want to freeze on a line drive. And I took off and thought I might get held up, but I was still running hard and I just found out that Albert (Pujols) had cut the ball off."

Jay fielded the ball on the second hop and let his throw go just as Hairston's left foot hit third base. Pujols caught Jay's throw on the short hop before making the relay throw to Molina. All the while, Hairston is hustling home and looking for a place to get the plate.

"If you see a guy blocking the plate, sometimes you have to run over the guy, but Yadier does a really good job of blocking the plate and not giving the runner a chance -- it's textbook, he does a great job," Hairston said. "I saw him blocking the plate, so I knew I had to find a place to get in there. He had it (covered), I had to do some dancing. I can dance a little bit, do a little Michael Jackson."

But getting around the catcher is one part, the next is finding the plate and tagging it -- while not getting tagged, either.

"I could sense it, that he was about to get the ball, so I had to get in there," Hairston said. "I was able to get in there without getting tagged -- I had to bend my back and get in there."

Replays showed Hairston got his fingers on the edge of the plate, while Molina's tag missed his target.

"He never touched me," Hairston said. "You feel when you get tagged -- trust me. He never touched me."

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Posted on: October 13, 2011 3:14 am
Edited on: October 13, 2011 4:11 pm
 

NLCS Game 4: Starters looking for better results



By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- Brewers at Cardinals, 8:05 p.m. ET, Oct. 13, Busch Stadium. Cardinals lead series 2-1.

The fate of the Brewers is in the hands of Randy Wolf and a playoff-rattled Zack Greinke. That's not the most encouraging sign. Add to the fact the Cardinals need to win two more games to close the series out and the next two games are at Busch Stadium… let's just say if you're a Brewer, things are not looking good.

Milwaukee has yet to win a playoff road game, losing all  three postseason games away from Miller Park, including Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Cardinals.

Game 3 will feature Wolf against St. Louis' Kyle Lohse.

WHO HAS THE EDGE?

 

It's not as clear cut as anyone who saw Wolf's National League division series start at Arizona would think. As bad as the left-hander was in Arizona (seven runs in three innings), he's been decent against the Cardinals, especially in St. Louis. This season he was 3-2 with a 5.34 ERA against the Cardinals and 2-1 with a 3.43 ERA in three starts at Busch Stadium, where he is 4-4 with a 3.50 ERA in his career.

NLCS Coverage

The Cardinals' big boppers don't exactly have the best track record against Wolf -- Lance Berkman is 3 for 32 lifetime (.094) against Wolf, striking out seven times and with no homers. Matt Holliday is hitting just .216 (8 for 37) with one homer off of Wolf and Albert Pujols is hitting a rather pedestrian (for Pujols) /286/.306/.571 against Wolf, but has driven in 13. Rafael Furcal, who has been so important to starting off the Cardinals' offense, has just a .241 on-base percentage in his career against Wolf. So there is some reason for a shred of optimism.

And then there's Lohse, who has battled inconsistency his entire career. Lohse had a career-best 3.39 ERA and led the team with a 14 victories in 2012, but he struggled in his only postseason start so far, allowing six runs (five earned) in 5 1/3 innings in Game 1 of the NLDS. There's a reason he hasn't pitched since then -- and that's because despite his numbers (and contract), he's still the team's fourth-best starter. 

Lohse made three starts against the Brewers and pitched well, but had a 1-2 record despite a 2.37 ERA. Four of the five runs he allowed to the Brewers this season came in a June 10 loss at Miller Park. In his two starts against the Brewers at Busch Stadium, he allowed just one run on 10 hits in 14 innings, splitting those decisions.

Brewers' Randy Wolf: Wolf was hoping his 2011 wouldn't end on his disastrous Game 4 start in Arizona.

"I think the biggest thing that I felt when we won Game 5 against the Diamondbacks was relief, because if I would have left the season -- that would have been my last start and it would have been a hard offseason for me," Wolf said. "I wanted to give (Yovani Gallardo) a kiss, because just to have that opportunity to pitch again was a very big deal for me. Regardless of what happens, I just wanted that opportunity again."

In that outing, he said he couldn't control anything but his fastball, which meant he was either getting behind or leaving his offspeed pitches over the plate to get hammered.

"When you're 2-0, 3-1 on hitters that are swinging the bats well, you're basically fighting an uphill battle," Wolf said. "You  know, I learned that there's some way that I have to find my feel out there. I have to find a way to throw pitches for strikes and figure out early -- I was very stubborn with my curveball the last game. I kept on throwing it and it got me behind in a lot of counts. So I have to find out early what I'm going to throw for strikes, and after I do that, the first two or three innings, then you can figure out what other pitches you can go to."

Cardinals' Kyle Lohse: Lohse hasn't pitched the first day of the month when he lost to the Phillies in Game 1 of the NLDS, but said it's been nothing new to him.

"During the second half, I had a couple of layoffs like that where actually I think right before my last start against Milwaukee, I had about 11 or 12 days off," Lohse said. "This time was a little different. I didn't have time to do two sides or anything, because I was available in the bullpen during that Philadelphia series and never threw. But I've just tried to stay sharp, throwing flat grounds. I had my regular bullpen session the other day, felt good."

Lohse's memory is a little off -- he had seven days between his Aug. 28 start in St. Louis against the Phillies and his Sept. 6 against the Brewers at Busch Stadium. However, he did have success, that part he remembered correctly, allowing just four hits in six shutout innings.  He also had one stretch of 10 days of rest that straddled the All-Star break, and allowed four runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 against the Mets in a Cardinals loss on July 19.

LINEUPS

Brewers Cardinals
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Nyjer Morgan CF 1 Rafael Furcal SS
2 Mark Kotsay RF 2 Allen Craig RF
3 Ryan Braun LF 3 Albert Pujols 1B
4 Prince Fielder 1B 4 David Freese 3B
5 Rickie Weeks 2B 5 Matt Holliday LF
6 Jerry Hairston Jr. 3B 6 Yadier Molina C
7 Yuniesky Betancourt SS 7 Ryan Theriot 2B
8 George Kottaras C 8 Jon Jay CF
9 Randy Wolf LHP 9 Kyle Lohse RHP

NOTES

  • Although rain was expected in St. Louis on Thursday, it's supposed to be out of the area by game time. Rain fell during some of Game 3, but there were no delays. 
  • Watch out for the Cardinals in their first inning -- St. Louis has scored in the first inning in each of its last five games this postseason and six of the eight total games in the playoffs. Wolf has an ERA of 6.00 in the first inning this season and gave up five runs in the first inning in his NLDS Game 4 start. The Cardinals are the first team to score in the first inning of five straight postseason games since the 2004 Red Sox.
  • Cardinals third baseman David Freese didn't have a hit in the Cardinals' first game of the postseason, a loss to the Phillies. He's hit safely in each game since. He's hitting .407 with four doubles, three homers and 11 RBI over that streak.
  • The Brewers are 3-11 all-time in postseason road games, including 0-3 this season. 
  • Mark Kotsay's third-inning homer in Game 3 was his second postseason homer, but his first to go over the fence. He hit an inside-the-park home run for Oakland at MInnesota in the 2006 ALDS.
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Posted on: October 13, 2011 2:07 am
Edited on: October 13, 2011 2:10 am
 

Overheard: NLCS Game 3

Albert Pujols

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has repeatedly said he doesn't like to intentionally walk batters -- but he ordered three free passes in Wednesday's 4-3 Game 3 loss to the Cardinals, two to Albert Pujols. All three worked.

"I think when it really makes sense, we'll do it. I don't want to just put him on to put him on. You saw we put him on with a guy on third base. Next thing you know, it's second and third instead of first and third. They get a base hit there, they are scoring two runs instead of just one," Roenicke said. "We are going to pick our spots where we think we need to do it. If it comes up, you know, where it makes sense, then we'll try to put him on. But you know, he's scary when he's hitting everything, and we make good pitches and he's still hitting them. He's done a lot of damage to us."

Pujols had hits in both at-bats in which the Brewers threw to him.

Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman was asked if he would pitch to Pujols right now: "Maybe. It would just depend on match ups. I don't think anybody thinks as highly as I do in terms of where he ranks in the history of the game, I think he's probably the greatest hitter ever -- doing it in this ballpark and in this era. It's a worldwide game, you have players from all over everywhere," he said. "That being said, I'm having a hard time walking anybody to get to Matt Holliday. This guy's won a batting title, he's been an LCS MVP. So, you might get him a couple of times, but you better be careful, because if you keep doing it, he's going to make you pay."

Holliday was 0 for 3, so he didn't. He has three hits in the series, but all three have been singles. 

Other things overheard after Game 3:

• Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter on Albert Pujols: "I was very fortunate to watch this guy play of rate last nine years. And when you are that type of player at that level, the expectations from you, me, I'm sure his family, his kids' friends, I mean, anybody that's out there, the expectation levee for what he's supposed to do is unbelievable. That being said, he continues to amaze me every single year. Every year, you can't believe the things that he does, the games that he has, the pressures that he deal with, distractions that he deals with.

"Coming int this season, free agent, how much money he is going to get, best player in baseball, is he going be here? Is he not going to be here? And he comes in, just like the same old Albert, and works hard in spring training, starts off a little slow, everybody is questioning whether or not it's because of his contract situation. No, he continues to grind, he continues to play and continues to do the things that amazes every single one of us every single day. So what he's doing now, does that -- it's him. That's who he is. He's an exceptional player, exceptional hitter. He's got the mind of stone. Nothing bothers him no matter what the situation he's in -- and that's what makes him great."

• Brewers infielder Craig Counsell on the Cardinals bullpen: "They've struggled with their bullpen, but they've got guys in the roles they want them in now. They've turned the corner."

• Mark Kotsay on Chris Carpenter: "He didn't have a feel for his curveball. He left some pitches on the plate that we took advantage of. But he made his pitches when he had to, got out of a couple of jams ... it was interesting that Tony took him out there with the pitcher's spot coming up in the fifth, but Tony (La Russa) obviously knows Carp, he knows his bullpen and he did a great job."

• Cardinals third baseman, and Missouri native, David Freese on Stan Musial's pre game appearance: "It's unreal. Every time Stan Musial comes around the clubhouse, we take time to go say hi to him. And when he gets on the field, whether it's tonight or opening day, all of the guys that are in the Hall come out and join him. It's just special to be a part of."

• Carpenter on Octavio Dotel and Arhtur Rhodes: "I think Doti and Arthur have brought a lot of confidence to some of these younger guys to not care; to go out, not be concerned about what's going to happen. Let's go out and give it our best and see what happens. If it works, it works; if it doesn't, it doesn't, and we'll go get 'em the next day."

• Tony La Russa on Yovani Gallardo: "He's got all of the pitches. We got him before he got sharp, but he's the real deal and he showed it. We had a couple of great chances to add, which normally come back to haunt you, but our pitching staff prevented that. But let me tell you, he's a handful, and he's every bit as good as a No. 1 starter is supposed to be."

• Gallardo on his start: "I think I was off the whole game, to be honest with you, even after the first. The four innings after that, I was struggling putting the ball where I wanted to."

He was then asked if it was any pitch in particular: "A little bit with every pitch. I'd hit my spot, and then the next one would be up in the zone, or not even close."

Corey Hart on the Freese double in the first inning: "It just kind of carried off, but I still had to go after it. I knew I was close to the track. It was like his home run [in Game 2] the other day, it just kept going. He's a strong kid."

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Posted on: October 12, 2011 9:58 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 10:23 pm
 

Pitchers struggle early in NLCS Game 3

Yovani Gallardo

By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- That pitchers duel we expected in Game 3 of the NLCS? Well, that's not quite what we've got so far.

The Cardinals batted around in the first inning, scoring tour runs, while Chris Carpenter needed two double plays in the first three innings to avoid giveng up any more than three runs he allowed in the first third of the game. 

Both pitchers struggled with their control, as Gallardo needed 82 pitches to get through three innings, Carpenter 67. Carpenter walked just one in the first four innings and hit another batter. Both were done after five innings. Carpenter gave up three runs on six hits, striking out three and walking one. Gallardo gave up four runs on eight hits, walking five and striking out two. He's the first pitcher to walk at least five and throw three wild pitches since St. Louis' Rick Ankiel in 2000. In fairness, though, two of Gallardo's walks were intentional.

"Carp's not sharp, Gallardo's been sharper," Tony La Russa said during the TBS in-game interview.

Carpenter walked the second batter he faced and hit the third -- but was bailed out when surprise starter Mark Kotsay wondered too far off second base on Prince Fielder's liner to center and was doubled up to end the inning. 

Gallardo got no such help in the bottom of the first -- with Mark Kotsay unable to make a diving catch on Jon Jay's sinking line drive to score the first run and then Albert Pujols doubled in another. Another run scored on a Yadier Molina double play and then David Freese doubled to right on a ball Corey Hart just missed.

The Brewers were able to get to Carpenter in the second on three straight singles that scored one and then a sacrifice fly by Gallardo. Kotsay then homered to lead off the third.

Both teams have very good bullpens, and it looks like they'll need them.

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 7:17 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 1:28 am
 

NLCS Game 3: Cardinals riding high



By C. Trent Rosecrans

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' Game 2 victory wrestled homefield advantage from the Brewers as the National League Championship Series heads to St. Louis with Milwaukee needing at least one victory at Busch Stadium to ensure a return to the friendly confines of Miller Park.

Milwaukee struggled on the road this season, but still managed to go 4-5 at Busch Stadium as the two teams split their 18-game season series.

NLCS

"Everybody talks about our home record, but we didn't go undefeated at home by any stretch," Brewers third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. said following Monday's loss.." It's a loss, but we've just got to go on the road and bounce back."

The Cardinals have won 15 consecutive get-away day games, tabbing their travels "happy flights." However, those "happy flights" leave a little bit of a hangover. In the games after their last 14 "happy flights," the Cardinals have gone 4-10.

Still, the Cardinals left Milwaukee happy, and with the series taking a much different complexion than it had after Milwaukee's Game 1 victory. Now, Milwaukee has to go on the road and depend on a starter that has struggled against the Cardinals and two more that have not been very good in the playoffs.

"(Winning Game 2) was big to us. We're 1-1, that was big to win, just because they've done well (in MIlwaukee)," Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay said following Monday night's victory. "But it was big for us to fight back and get a win after (Sunday's) game."

A win behind Chris Carpenter would put the Brewers on the ropes and could set the stage for the Cardinals' next happy flight to be after Game 2 of the World Series.

PITCHER MATCHUP

Gallardo vs. Cardinals: Yovani Gallardo has certainly been the Brewers' best -- and only consistent -- starter in the playoffs, going 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his two starts against the Diamondbacks in the NLDS. The rest of the team's starters are 1-3 with a 11.54 ERA in the playoffs.

However, Gallardo was 1-3 with a 5.70 ERA in four starts against the Cardinals this season and is 1-7 with a 5.66 ERA in 11 career starts against St. Louis. Among his four starts against the Cardinals this season were his best and worst performances of the season. On May 7, he allowed just one hit in eight scoreless innings, but on Sept. 1 at Miller Park, the Cardinals tagged him for eight earned in 4 2/3 innings.

Carpenter vs. Brewers: The Cardinals' right-hander is coming off a masterful victory over close friend Roy Halladay in Game 5 of the NLDS. While Carpenter struggled in Game 2 start on short rest, but Carpenter is fully rested going into Tuesday's start.

Carpenter was 2-2 against the Brewers this season with a 3.86 ERA -- but he was 2-0 in two starts against the Brewers at Busch Stadium, including a four-hit shutout on Sept. 7.

Ryan Braun's struggled a bit against Carpenter, going 5 for 22 (.227) with a home run and six strikeouts. Prince Fielder is 8 for 26 (.308) with two home runs, five walks and eight strikeouts against Carpenter.

Pitching matchup advantage:

 

If both are on in Game 3, it should be the opposite of the slugfests we saw in Miwaukee. Even as Gallardo has developed into a frontline starter, Carpenter's history of success in big games (and on full rest) is too much to overlook.

LINEUPS

Brewers Cardinals
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Corey Hart RF 1 Rafael Furcal SS
2 Mark Kotsay CF 2 Jon Jay CF
3 Ryan Braun LF 3 Albert Pujols 1B
4 Prince Fielder 1B 4 Matt Holliday LF
5 Rickie Weeks 2B 5 Lance Berkman RF
6 Jerry Hairston Jr. 3B 6 Yadier Molina C
7 Yuniesky Betancourt SS 7 David Freese 3B
8 Jonathan Lucroy C 8 Nick Punto 2B
9 Yovani Gallardo RHP 9 Chris Carpenter RHP

NOTES

  • In 23 of the last 42 NLCS -- including this one -- the loser of Game 1 has come back to win Game 2.
  • St. Louis' 17 hits on Monday night tied for the second most the team had ever collected in a  postseason game. The Cardinals had 20 hits in Game 4 of the 1946 World Series against the Red Sox and 17 in Game 7 of the 1934 World Series.
  • With his ninth LCS home run, Albert Pujols is now tied with George Brett and Bernie Williams for the second-most in baseball history. Manny Ramirez holds the record with 13 LCS home runs. Pujols now has 14 career postseason home runs, tied with David Justice for eighth most in history.
  • Fielder's homer in Game 2 gave him four postseason home runs -- the most by any Brewer. Ted Simmons and Paul Molitor each hit three.
  • Former Cardinal and Brewer (and Royal and Red Sox and Diamondback and Pirate) Jeff Suppan will throw out the first pitch in Game 3 at Busch Stadium.
  • This series has been rain-free -- so far. Rain is predicted for gametime on Wednesday.
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Posted on: October 11, 2011 2:20 am
 

Overheard: NLCS Game 2

Prince Fielder

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- For the first time since Nyjer Morgan called Albert Pujols "Alberta" in a tweet, the two men were side-by-side on the baseball field on Monday. When Morgan walked in the seventh inning, he didn't have anything to say to Pujols.

"You see my lips flapping?" Morgan said when asked about it after the Brewers' 12-3 loss in Game 2 of the NLCS. "It's the wrong time, you can't say nothing there."

The Brewers trailed 11-2 when the two finally got side-by-side, and Morgan said he was in no position to say anything to the Cardinals slugger, who had already driven in five Cardinals runs by that point.

NLCS

"Wrong time, you can't do it then," Morgan said.

Is that time coming?

"Maybe," Morgan said. "Stay tuned."

As for that tweet, Morgan said it's not something he regrets.

"That's just part of it, I said what I said, let's move on," Morgan said. "If they have to take some justice out of it, so be it?"

• Morgan's tweet was after he and Chris Carpenter got into a verbal altercation on the field. I asked him if he was looking forward to facing Carpenter in Game 3: "I'm looking forward to anybody -- what are you trying to stir up?"

• With the series tied at one game each and three more games coming up in St. Louis, Monday may have been Prince Fielder's last game at Miller Park in a Brewer uniform. I asked him if he'd given any thought to that: "No," he said.

Rickie Weeks on the bad call by first base umpire Sam Holbrook in the fifth inning that cost the Brewers at least a run: "You can't look at one call in baseball. It's one of those things. You might think the game went one play right there, but that's baseball. You can't worry about it," Weeks said. "That's just me. I thought I was safe, he called me out. He made the call. You can't go back and change it."

• Fielder on Weeks, who is playing on a bum ankle: "He's doing it right now on that ankle, it's impressive. We see it. He's tough. What he's doing, you couldn't ask anyone to do that, but he's doing it for the team and it's really awesome."

• Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina on picking up Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy's mask on a play at the plate in the fifth inning: "I was trying to take the mask. I don't want anybody to get hurt."

• Morgan on the Cardinals 12 runs and 17 hits: "That's all right. I think maybe they hit themselves out of the ballpark right there, they should have saved some of those."

• Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on his team's streak of winning the final game of a series, as Monday marked the 14th time in a row the Cardinals have boarded a plane as a winner: "It's kind of a neat reminder, let's finish off whatever it is, whether we're finishing off a game at home or on the road. We've won games on days we weren't traveling, either. But it's just -- you've got these grown men and they're like -- I don't think fraternity, they're too old… they're like summer campers or teenagers or maybe preteens -- they're just like kids. And it's enjoyable to listed to 'happy flight' things. Our fans were yelling when we got in the dugout, 'have a happy flight.' It's silly, but why not?"

• Jerry Hairston Jr. on Pujols: "He's pretty good, isn't he? He's arguably the best player of our generation. He's really good. It's one of those things, give him credit -- and not just Albert, but all the guys swung the bat well."

• Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse on Pujols' performance: ""hat's him, man. It's not surprising, know what I mean? It's amazing, but it's not surprising. He does the things he does. People ask me in the off-season, 'What's it like to play with him?' When he goes 1 for 3, it's like, 'Why didn't he get two more hits?'"

• Brewers manager Ron Roenicke on whether Shaun Marcum would pitch again in this series: "As far as I'm concerned, right now he's pitching again."

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 11:42 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 11:48 pm
 

Pujols powers Cardinals in Game 2 to even NLCS

Albert Pujols

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

MILWAUKEE -- Albert Pujols changed the complexion of the NLCS with a mighty swing of the bat and a performance for the ages, as St. Louis clobbered the Brewers 12-3 in Game 2 to even the series at one game each.

Hero: Coming into Monday's Game 2, Pujols hadn't homered in a postseason game since 2006, spanning 46 at-bats. He had also notched just five RBI in his previous 23 postseason games. Those numbers can be thrown out the window after Pujols' monster 4 for 5 game with a homer, three doubles and five RBI. He also scored three times and was just generally Pujolsian. The Milwaukee fans let out a huge cheer when he grounded out in the eighth, even though their team was already behind 11-2.

Goat: The Brewers had a chance to get back in the game in the fifth inning with bases loaded and one out, trailing 7-2. Rickie Weeks, who had homered in his previous at-bat, faced Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn. On the first pitch Weeks hit a tailor-made double play ball to Rafael Furcal. Weeks, though, was busting his tail down the line and beat the throw from second baseman Nick Punto -- except first base umpire Sam Holbrook called him out, ending the inning and Milwaukee's best chance at making the final four innings interesting.

Turning point: When Pujols turned on Marcum's first-inning fastball in the first, he admired his shot a little bit, flipped his bat and let the Brewers know they were in for trouble.

It was over when … Pujols hit the ball over Nyjer Morgan's head for his third-inning double, scoring two and giving the Cardinals a 4-0 lead.

Next: The series shifts to St. Louis for Game 3, Wednesday night at 8:05 p.m ET with the top starters for each team taking the mound -- the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter and the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo.

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 8:48 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 8:58 pm
 

Pujols hits first postseason HR since 2006

Albert Pujols

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- Albert Pujols didn't seem to be in the best of moods after Game 1 of the NLCS on Sunday, dismissing question after question about the Brewers' victory. He got even more testy when some asked him if he was close to a "blow out" or a big game in Game 2.

He asked the questioner what he would write if it happened -- "that you made adjustments," Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch responded.

"I'm pretty good at it," Pujols shot back.

He is indeed.

Pujols gave St. Louis an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 of the NLCS with a long homer to left off of Brewers starter Shaun Marcum. Pujols blasted Marcum's 1-2 pitch into the seats, stood and admired his shot for a good second or two and then flipped his bat away -- it wasn't the imitation of something from a kid's movie like the Brewers' "beast mode," it was more serious and done with much more venom. It looked like an act of defiance to anyone who thought Milwaukee would be the only team bashing at Miller Park.

It was Pujols' first postseason home run since Game 1 of the 2006 World Series when he took a 23-year-old Justin Verlander deep. In the 46 at-bats since, he'd been held homerless, spanning the rest of that World Series, the 2009 NLDS and the 2011 NLDS. In his career during the regular season, Pujols had hit a homer for approximately every 14.2 at-bats. His postseason mark is a homer for every 16 at-bats.

It was Pujols' 14th postseason home run, coming in 14 series.

Follow the game live on CBSSports.com's GameTracker. 

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com