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St. Louis at San Diego

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St. Louis (72-54) «0401000005101
San Diego (52-74)000001100271

Smoltz stars in Cards debut, fans nine Padres in win

CBSSports.com wire reports
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SAN DIEGO -- John Smoltz cleared his mind of all the bad things that happened to him in Boston, fixed his delivery and had a brilliant debut with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Smoltz struck out a season-high nine -- including seven in a row, which he'd never done before - and held the San Diego Padres to three hits over five scoreless innings in a 5-2 victory Sunday.

St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols hit his 40th homer, the fifth time he's reached that plateau.

Smoltz also had a bunt single and scored the first run for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, who retained their eight-game lead over the Chicago Cubs. He didn't walk a batter.

  Benches empty, no punches thrown | Miller's Weekend Buzz: Smoltz's clear mind

Although manager Tony La Russa said Smoltz was tipping pitches, the veteran managed to regain his confidence.

"I don't know to the extent how long it was going on, or if it was, but I just know it's refreshing to come and do something and feel like the old John," Smoltz said.

The 42-year-old Smoltz (1-0) signed with the Cardinals on Wednesday after he cleared waivers following his release from Boston. He had a dreadful performance with the Red Sox, going 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA after attempting a comeback from shoulder surgery. In six of his eight starts, he surrendered five earned runs or more.

It helped that his Cardinals debut was against the Padres, who at .240 have the second-worst batting average in the majors.

"I felt really good," Smoltz said. "I made a conscious decision coming into this start to forget everything else, totally wipe out everything else, and try to go have a little bit of fun and not be caught up in story line and impressing everybody, and it worked."

The first two Padres batters reached against Smoltz, including Everth Cabrera with a leadoff infield single, but didn't score. After getting Adrian Gonzalez to hit into a double play, Smoltz began his strikeout streak by fanning cleanup hitter Chase Headley.

Smoltz struck out the side the next two innings. Tony Gwynn Jr. snapped the streak with a single to shallow left-center leading off the fourth. Gwynn and Gonzalez were the only Padres who didn't strike out against Smoltz.

"I just felt like I was in command, I was in charge of the strike zone," he said. "The first inning was key, when I had to face Gonzalez with nobody out and first and second. Those are the kind of innings where a bloop here, or a bad pitch there, equates to a bigger inning. When I got that double play, which I don't get many, I knew that today could be special."

The nine strikeouts were his most since consecutive 10-strikeout games on April 14 and 22, 2008, while with Atlanta.

When he was working out in Atlanta after being released by the Red Sox, Smoltz said someone noticed that his heel was coming away from the rubber, which was affecting his delivery. Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan then fixed what he called "some minor things."

"I got into a funk, and I'm glad I'm out of it," Smoltz said.

"He was sharp," San Diego's Will Venable said. "That guy can still pitch. Whatever numbers he came in with before today are no reflection on what type of pitcher he is."

The benches and bullpens emptied momentarily after Pujols apparently thought Venable threw an elbow while being tagged out to end the sixth inning. No punches were thrown and order was quickly restored.

Ryan Franklin struck out pinch-hitter Oscar Salazar and Cabrera with the bases loaded in the ninth to earn his 32nd save in 34 chances.

Padres right-hander Cesar Carrillo (1-2) lasted two-plus innings in his third big league start and was sent down to Triple-A Portland afterward. He walked Mark DeRosa leading off the third and had a 2-0 count against Yadier Molina before manager Bud Black replaced him with Edward Mujica. Carrillo yielded four runs and five hits, walked six and struck out one.

The Cardinals scored four runs with two outs in the second. Smoltz reached on a fielder's choice and eventually scored on Brendan Ryan's single. Carrillo intentionally walked Pujols to load the bases, walked Matt Holliday to bring in a run and allowed Ryan Ludwick's two-run single.

Pujols connected against Mujica leading off the fourth to reach 40 homers for the first time since 2006, when he hit a career-high 49.

San Diego's Nick Hundley homered on the first pitch from Jason Motte in the seventh, his fifth. Gonzalez hit an RBI single in the sixth.

Cabrera, the Padres' shortstop, and second baseman Luis Rodriguez each made a nifty play on the front end of an inning-ending double play in the seventh. With the bases loaded, Cabrera fielded pinch-hitter Julio Lugo's grounder and flipped the ball with his glove to Rodriguez, who barehanded it for the force and then threw out Lugo.

Notes

  • Smoltz is 17-8 with a 2.50 ERA and eight saves in 46 career games against San Diego, including 37 starts. He has won his last five starts against San Diego dating to May 9, 2007.
  • RHP Adam Russell will join the Padres from Triple-A Portland on Tuesday in Atlanta. No starter has been named for Saturday's game at Florida.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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John Smoltz strikes out nine Padres and surrenders just three hits over five scoreless innings.  (AP)
John Smoltz strikes out nine Padres and surrenders just three hits over five scoreless innings. (AP)

Players of the Game
San Diego

N. Hundley
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
St. Louis

J. Smoltz
IP 5.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 0
K 9
 

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St. Louis Cardinals
Skip Schumaker, 2B5120001 .296
Brendan Ryan, SS5121012 .296
Albert Pujols, 1B3211200 .317
Matt Holliday, LF3001203 .313
Ryan Ludwick, RF5022024 .265
Rick Ankiel, CF5000036 .234
Mark DeRosa, 3B3010202 .259
Yadier Molina, C2010201 .292
John Smoltz, P3110002 .200
    Blake Hawksworth, P0000000 .000
    Dennys Reyes, P0000000 .000
   a- Joe Thurston, PH0000000 .230
   b- Julio Lugo, PH1000001 .292
    Jason Motte, P0000000 .000
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
    Ryan Franklin, P0000000 .000
Totals35510586  
a-announced for Reyes in the 7th
b-grounded into a double play for Thurston in the 7th
Batting
HR - Albert Pujols (40, Mujica)
RBI - Brendan Ryan (27), Albert Pujols (106), Matt Holliday (81), Ryan Ludwick 2 (77)
2-OUT RBI - Brendan Ryan (9), Matt Holliday (34), Ryan Ludwick 2 (19)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
DP - Schumaker-Ryan-Pujols
E - Brendan Ryan (7, Missed catch of throw)
St. Louis Cardinals
John Smoltz (W,3-5) 5300090 7.40
Blake Hawksworth 0.2211100 2.73
Dennys Reyes (H,15) 0.1000000 3.94
Jason Motte 0.2111001 5.89
Trever Miller (H,10) 1.1000000 1.80
Ryan Franklin (S,32) 1100220 1.11
Pitches-Strikes - John Smoltz 75-53, Blake Hawksworth 21-11, Dennys Reyes 4-2, Jason Motte 8-4, Trever Miller 9-6, Ryan Franklin 33-19
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Smoltz 3-3, Blake Hawksworth 1-1, Dennys Reyes 1-0, Jason Motte 1-1, Trever Miller 2-2, Ryan Franklin 1-0
Batters Faced - John Smoltz 18, Blake Hawksworth 5, Dennys Reyes 1, Jason Motte 3, Trever Miller 4, Ryan Franklin 6
San Diego Padres
Everth Cabrera, SS5120023 .272
Tony Gwynn Jr., CF3010100 .272
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B4011002 .272
Chase Headley, LF4000023 .253
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B3000113 .258
Will Venable, RF4020012 .272
Nick Hundley, C4111013 .217
Luis Rodriguez, 2B3000111 .212
Cesar Carrillo, P0000000 .000
    Edward Mujica, P1000010 .667
   a- Kyle Blanks, PH1000011 .247
    Greg Burke, P0000000 .000
    Joe Thatcher, P0000000 .000
   b- David Eckstein, PH1000000 .254
    Luke Gregerson, P0000000 .000
    Heath Bell, P0000000 .000
   c- Oscar Salazar, PH1000013 .328
Totals34272311  
a-struck out for Mujica in the 5th
b-grounded out for Thatcher in the 7th
c-struck out for Bell in the 9th
Batting
2B - Will Venable 2 (12, Smoltz, Franklin)
HR - Nick Hundley (5, Motte)
RBI - Adrian Gonzalez (74), Nick Hundley (16)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Cabrera-Rodriguez, Cabrera-Rodriguez-Gonzalez, Rodriguez-Cabrera
E - Luis Rodriguez (6, Throwing)
San Diego Padres
Cesar Carrillo (L,1-2) 2544610 13.06
Edward Mujica 3311021 3.31
Greg Burke 1.1200110 4.08
Joe Thatcher 0.2000000 3.06
Luke Gregerson 1000010 3.42
Heath Bell 1000110 2.13
IBB - Pujols by Cesar Carrillo
WP - Cesar Carrillo (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Cesar Carrillo 74-36, Edward Mujica 35-24, Greg Burke 36-20, Joe Thatcher 2-2, Luke Gregerson 15-9, Heath Bell 18-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Cesar Carrillo 2-3, Edward Mujica 2-4, Greg Burke 1-2, Joe Thatcher 1-0, Luke Gregerson 2-0, Heath Bell 1-1
Batters Faced - Cesar Carrillo 17, Edward Mujica 11, Greg Burke 7, Joe Thatcher 1, Luke Gregerson 3, Heath Bell 4
Game Information
Attendance - 27435
Game Time - 3:20
Temperature - 74
Umpires - Home - Todd Tichenor, First Base - Chris Guccione, Second Base - Mike Winters, Third Base - Ted Barrett