|St. Louis (2-1) «||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||x||4||9||0|
ST. LOUIS -- Chris Carpenter needed a pick-me-up in the worst way. A bullpen that just sat back and watched the last time the St. Louis Cardinals ace pitched was ready for extended duty.
Albert Pujols hit an RBI double off Yovani Gallardo during a four-run first inning and four St. Louis relievers combined for four perfect innings Wednesday night for a 4-3 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers and a 2-1 edge in the NL Championship Series.
|NLCS: Brewers at Cardinals|
With Mark Kotsay in center, the Brewers sacrifice defense for offense. Both parts of that tradeoff come into play. Read>>
Suddenly, the wild-card Cardinals are front-runners. And against the team that put them away early en route to the NL Central title.
"I think our ballclub, no matter leading or behind, it doesn't really matter to be honest with you," Carpenter said. "We have battled for the last two months or however long it's been.
"We have nothing to lose."
The Brewers have lost eight in a row on the road in the postseason, a stretch that extends to Game 1 of the 1982 World Series in St. Louis on a shutout by Mike Caldwell. It's the longest current streak in the majors.
"I think regardless of whether we're winning or losing the series, we recognize what's at stake," Brewers star Ryan Braun said. "We're going to prepare ourselves just like we've been doing and expect to win tomorrow and hopefully get off to a good start."
In a matchup of star pitchers, neither starter made it past the fifth inning. Gallardo tied an NLCS record with three wild pitches, while the one-run lead Carpenter handed over to the relievers was just enough to put the Cardinals ahead in the best-of-seven series.
It was a game played in a steady drizzle but with no squirrel sightings -- at least not on the field. In the previous playoff game at Busch Stadium, a squirrel scampered across home plate while the Cardinals were hitting.
The careening critter quickly became a favorite in St. Louis as the Rally Squirrel. The Cardinals' marketing department capitalized, too, giving away 40,000 rally towels with a squirrel theme, telling fans to "Go Nuts" on the video board and dressing up someone in a squirrel costume to entertain the fans between innings.
There was at least one squirrel sighting in the stands. One rodent got stuck underneath a vendor's station just outside the press box before the game, leaping to safety and up the steps to the upper deck after a worker opened a side compartment.
"You never know how it's going to work out," Carpenter said. "That's what's so fun about this game and that's what's so fun about pitching. Our guys did a fabulous job."
Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn, Marc Rzepczynski and Jason Motte shut down the Brewers to close out the victory. Motte, who had two saves lasting more than inning in September and another in the first round of the playoffs against Philadelphia, got four outs for this save and fanned pinch hitter Casey McGehee to end it.
"We've won games in several ways," Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman said. "Tonight's was the bullpen's night to shine."
Carpenter won his seventh postseason game to tie Bob Gibson's franchise record, but with none of the brilliance of his three-hit shutout over Roy Halladay and the favored Phillies in the deciding game of the division series. He lasted only five innings, with nearly half of his 89 pitches for balls.
The starters' ineffectiveness was surprising considering their track records.
Carpenter has been clutch throughout his career in the postseason, going 7-2 with a 3.14 ERA in 12 games. Gallardo allowed only two runs in 21 innings, a minuscule 0.86 ERA, before Game 3.
The Cardinals have scored in the first inning in their last five games, and batted around against Gallardo in the first. Pujols delivered an RBI double after starring in a Game 2 victory with a home run and three doubles, and then singled in the second to give him six hits in a stretch of seven at-bats.
St. Louis had its chances to break away later, but hit into three double plays and stranded nine runners. The Cardinals broke their own National League record for double plays this season.
Mark Kotsay started ahead of slumping Nyjer Morgan and hit a home run for the Brewers. Yuniesky Betancourt had two singles and an RBI and Gallardo, a .221 hitter with a home run and four RBI, had a sacrifice fly in the second.
Gallardo, who's 1-7 with a 5.66 career mark against the Cardinals, trailed 2-0 after his first 12 pitches and barely made it out of the first trailing 4-0. The right-hander walked three, one of them intentional, and the Brewers had Chris Narveson up in the bullpen before Yadier Molina grounded into a double play, scoring the fourth run, for his first outs.
Gallardo trudged to the dugout after his 33-pitch ordeal. He was looking forward to another chance at St. Louis.
"Yeah, I mean, of course," Gallardo said. "I look forward to it. I can't wait and hopefully we'll get another shot at it."
Luckily for the Brewers, Carpenter didn't have his "A" game, either. By the third, the lead was down to one run.
The Cardinals' ace walked none in his brilliant three-hit shutout in Game 5 of the NLDS, but had a walk and a hit batsman in the Brewers' first three plate appearances.
Carpenter escaped with help from Kotsay, who strayed too far off second on Prince Fielder's lineout to center and was doubled off the bag by Jay's strong throw to end the inning. But Carpenter didn't look comfortable in the second or third, either.
The Brewers opened the second with three straight singles with Betancourt getting the RBI. Gallardo, who batted .221 with a homer and four RBIs this season, added a sacrifice fly that cut the deficit to 4-2.
Kotsay got a spot start, partly because he's 4 for 11 against Carpenter. Kotsay hit his second career postseason home run leading off the third. Morgan flied out to start the seventh as a pinch hitter and was roundly booed throughout the at-bat.
Kotsay just missed a diving catch on Jay's bloop double to left-center in the first, a play manager Ron Roenicke said Carlos Gomez would have made. But Roenicke said Gomez was never a consideration for the lineup.
|Players of the Game|
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|Corey Hart, RF||4||0||0||0||0||2||1||.182|
|Takashi Saito, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Chris Narveson, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mark Kotsay, CF-RF||2||1||1||1||2||0||0||.143|
|Ryan Braun, LF||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.483|
|Prince Fielder, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||1||3||.296|
|Rickie Weeks, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||2||2||.138|
|Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B||4||1||1||0||0||0||0||.357|
|Yuniesky Betancourt, SS||4||0||2||1||0||1||0||.367|
|Jonathan Lucroy, C||3||0||0||0||0||0||2||.200|
|a- Casey McGehee, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.200|
|Yovani Gallardo, P||1||0||0||1||0||0||1||.000|
|LaTroy Hawkins, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Nyjer Morgan, PH-CF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.143|
|a-struck out for Lucroy in the 9th|
|b-flied out for Hawkins in the 7th|
|HR - Mark Kotsay (1, Carpenter)|
|SF - Yovani Gallardo (1)|
|RBI - Mark Kotsay (1), Yuniesky Betancourt (4), Yovani Gallardo (1)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Weeks-Betancourt-Fielder, Weeks-Betancourt-Fielder, Betancourt-Weeks-Fielder|
|Yovani Gallardo (L,1-1)||5||8||4||4||5||2||0||2.84|
|IBB - Punto by Yovani Gallardo, by Pujols, Pujols by LaTroy Hawkins|
|HBP - Berkman (by Takashi Saito)|
|WP - Yovani Gallardo 3 (4)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Yovani Gallardo 95-48, LaTroy Hawkins 20-12, Takashi Saito 8-4, Chris Narveson 13-9|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Yovani Gallardo 8-3, LaTroy Hawkins 1-1, Takashi Saito 1-1, Chris Narveson 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Yovani Gallardo 26, LaTroy Hawkins 5, Takashi Saito 3, Chris Narveson 3|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Rafael Furcal, SS||3||1||1||0||1||1||0||.229|
|Jon Jay, CF||4||1||1||1||0||0||2||.280|
|Albert Pujols, 1B||2||1||2||1||2||0||0||.452|
|Matt Holliday, LF||3||1||0||0||1||2||5||.263|
|Lance Berkman, RF||2||0||0||0||1||0||0||.214|
|Adron Chambers, RF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.200|
|Yadier Molina, C||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.194|
|David Freese, 3B||4||0||3||1||0||0||1||.367|
|Marc Rzepczynski, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jason Motte, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Nick Punto, 2B||3||0||0||0||1||2||2||.214|
|Chris Carpenter, P||2||0||1||0||0||0||2||.333|
|Fernando Salas, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Allen Craig, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.167|
|Lance Lynn, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Daniel Descalso, 3B||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-singled for Salas in the 6th|
|2B - Jon Jay (2, Gallardo), Albert Pujols (7, Gallardo), David Freese 2 (4, Gallardo, Gallardo)|
|SH - Rafael Furcal (1)|
|RBI - Jon Jay (3), Albert Pujols (7), David Freese (11)|
|2-OUT RBI - David Freese (4)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|Outfield Assists - Jon Jay 1|
|DP - Jay-Punto, Furcal-Pujols|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Chris Carpenter (W,2-0)||5||6||3||3||3||3||1||3.71|
|Fernando Salas (H,2)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1.59|
|Lance Lynn (H,1)||1.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.00|
|Marc Rzepczynski (H,3)||0.1||0||0||0||0||1||0||9.00|
|Jason Motte (S,3)||1.1||0||0||0||0||3||0||0.00|
|IBB - Fielder by Chris Carpenter|
|HBP - Braun (by Chris Carpenter)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Chris Carpenter 89-48, Fernando Salas 8-6, Lance Lynn 17-10, Marc Rzepczynski 4-3, Jason Motte 16-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Carpenter 4-6, Lance Lynn 1-3, Jason Motte 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Chris Carpenter 23, Fernando Salas 3, Lance Lynn 4, Marc Rzepczynski 1, Jason Motte 4|
|Attendance - 43584|
|Game Time - 3:10|
|Temperature - 66|
|Umpires - Home - Sam Holbrook, First Base - Mike Everitt, Second Base - Bill Miller, Third Base - Mike Winters|