September 8, 2008

Wainwright, Pujols finish Fish

Albert Pujols hits homer for Downs kids
Pujols sequence photos by Iscan
Eight solid innings by Adam Wainwright and a two-run blast by Albert Pujols helped the St. Louis Cardinals remain in contention for the NL Wild Card yesterday. The Florida Marlins, who had taken the first game of the three-game weekend series, left town after losing the next two, the latest, yesterday's 3-2 Cards' victory.

Wainwright scattered six hits, allowing only one run while walking only one and striking out six as the Cardinals' staring rotation (minus Pineiro) went a full turn of great performances. Only Mike Jacobs nicked Wainwright's outing, touching him up for a home run in the second inning, a solo shot that at the time, had made the score 2-1.

Prior to Jacobs' round-tripper, Pujols hit a two-run homer in the first inning, his second such feat in as many days. The Busch Stadium posted the calculated distance at 412 feet, the ball sailing well up into the left-center field bleachers.

Cards' manager Tony La Russa brought in left-handed reliever Randy Flores to start the ninth inning and to face only one batter, left-handed swinging Wes Helms, who flew out to center field.

La Russa then brought in his "unnamed" closer, Chris Perez, who had two poor outings prior to this appearance.

Perez immediately gave up a single to Dan Uggla, which brought the potential tying run to the plate in the form of Cody Ross. In a tough pitcher-hitter battle, Perez came on top this time, striking out Ross looking, utilizing a mix of his recently re-worked slider and several mid-90s fast balls. Ross was steamed with the home plate umpire after the called third strike, to no avail.

Josh Willingham flew out for the final out, and the Cardinals slipped off the field with a well-played 3-1 win.

Of defensive note was Felipe Lopez, who started off the game by introducing himself the Busch Stadium fans with a diving stop toward the foul line, coming up firing to throw out the speedy Marlins' leadoff man, Hanley Ramirez.

Besides the Pujols' blast with Lopez aboard, shortstop Aaron Miles hit a two-out triple to left-center field. Pinch-hitter (for Skip Schumaker) Josh Phelps singled Miles home with the third Cards' run.

The Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers lost yesterday, allowing the Cardinals to get full use of their win, the Cards now 9.0 games behind the NL Central Division leading Cubs and 5.0 games behind the second place Brewers.

The Brewers, still with the NL Wild Card's best record, lead the Cardinals in that race by the same 5.0 games. An extra blockage to the Cards' chances for that playoff spot is the Philadelphia Phillies, who are 4.0 games behind. And right on the Cardinals' tail feathers is the Houston Astros, just 6.0 games behind.

The Cardinals are off today, and start the last half of their current home stand tomorrow versus the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium. This rival series plays Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, all games starting at 7:15 p.m. CT, and are slated to be carried by FSN Midwest.