July 20, 2008

Wellemeyer kicks into offense, joins Pujols' show in series winner


The Cards took the Padres series a game early, starter Todd Wellemeyer getting plenty of help from the offense; including his own contribution, a single and a run scored. Wellemeyer's record improves to 8-4. Ryan Franklin, one of four relief pitchers, earned his 14th, save. Ron Villone was credited with a hold.


Down 5-0 early in the second inning, Wellemeyer struggled, then settled down, then battled, trying to make certain manager Tony La Russa didn't have to go to his bullpen early. At the same time, La Russa sent a clear message to Wellemeyer that he was going to have to pitch deeper into the game by leaving him in to bat leadoff in the bottom of the fifth.


Wellemeyer delivered at the plate, too, with a single to right. After a Brendan Ryan strikeout, Skip Schumaker walked, and the Cards had a change to chip off some of the Padres' five-run lead. Ryan Ludwick singled, third base coach Jose Oquendo holding up Wellemeyer at third, the bases now loaded with Cardinals.


Albert Pujols delivered, scorching a Randy Wolf pitch to the wall in left-center field, clearing the bases and bringing the Cards within two runs at 5-3. With two outs, Rick Ankiel singled home Pujols to make it 5-4.


An inning later, Wellemeyer took part in the next phase of the Cardinals comeback, sacrfice bunting Cesar Izturis into scoring position after he'd reached on an infield single. Padres' third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff helped out the cause, throwing a Brendan Ryan ground ball over the head of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Izturis advancing to third and Ryan scampering on to second.


Schumaker brought Izturis home with a ground ball to tie up the game at 5-5. After Ryan advanced to third base on a wild pitch, Ludwick walked. Pujols then collected his fourth RBI on the day, singling home Ryan with the go-ahead run.


La Russa called on his bullpen after Wellemeyer had secured one out in the seventh, a strikeout of pinch-hitter Scott Hairston. The move was questionable, with Wellemeyer only in the 80s on pitch count (he'd gone 120 two games earlier) and showing no signs of considerable fatigue. Randy Flores got the call, however, specifically to face lefthanded swinger, Jody Gerut. Flores walked Gerut, though a couple of the ball-strike calls seemed to favor the Padres' regular leadoff man.


La Russa went to Russ Springer, who gave up back to back singles to Edgar Gonzalez and Brian Giles, respectively. On came reliever number three, Ron Villone, especially to face Adrian Gonzalez. Villone fared better than Flores on his lefty-lefty matchup, striking out A. Gonzalez by spotting a fast ball on the outside corner, getting the Padres' three-hole hitter looking. Villone then got cleanup hitter Kevin Kouzmanoff to fly out to Ankiel in center.


Ryan Franklin took over to start the eighth, La Russa sticking with him instead of going with Jason Isringhausen in a closer's role in the ninth. The top of the Padres' order went down one-two-three, the Cardinals securing a 6-5 win.
photo by SD Dirk