April 26, 2009

Pujols plates 4, Boggs pitches in for Cards win over Cubs

One-for-four isn't a bad day at the plate for any major leaguer; but it becomes special when that one hit is a grand slam.

Such was the damage Pujols added to a 3-1 lead over the Chicago Cubs Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium. The blast--which landed beyond the left field seats and upon the walkway -- came in the seventh inning, and propelled the Cardinals to their second win over the Cubs in as many days, and their fifth in as many on the current home stand.

Mitchell Boggs (1-0) was named the winning pitcher; Sean Marshall suffering his first defeat of the season (0-1).

The recently called up Boggs is helping fill in for an injured Chris Carpenter, making his appearances important to the parent club as well as being an opportunity to show his stuff to Cards' manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Pujols wasn't the only Cardinal to provided some punch at the plate. Brian Barden went 3-for-3 and Khalil Greene was 2-for-4. Greene and Ryan Ludwick had double each on the day.

The Cubs were what is commonly known as hapless, their lineup riddled with injuries and manager Lou Piniella having to deal with a situation not unlike La Russa did last season.

Big blows to the Cubs crew are: Milton Bradley, Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Marmol.

Sean Marshall pitched well, possibly better than Boggs, but unlike Boggs, didn't get the offensive backup. Marshall went one out longer than Boggs at 6.0 IP, gave up the same amount of hits at six, but gave up three runs to Boggs's one. Marshall's curve was working well; he struck out six Cards.

The only run Marshall had to work with was his own, when in the fifth he reached on a Barden overthrow that sailed into the crowd. Marshall was awarded second base on the miscue, then was driven home by Ryan Theriot. At the time, that made the score 3-1 in favor of the Cardinals.

The Pujols' grand slam would come a couple innings later after Cubs' reliever Dave Patton was greeted to the game by a Barden single. Pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel walked, followed by a sacrifice bunt from Brendan Ryan. Rasmus then walked to load the bases, setting the stage for Pujols.

With only six outs left to play catch up and an already depleted bullpen, Piniella had no choice but leave Patton in weather more outs. He would get touched up with one more run in the eighth when pinch-hitter Joe Thurston singled home Greene, making it 8-2. Neal Cotts would come on for the last out of the inning.

By then, La Russa had been using Jason Motte to keep the Cubs at bay, since he relieved Boggs for a one-out mop up in the sixth, then a full seventh inning. Chris Perez would do the eighth inning chores.

The recently acquired Blaine Boyer (form the Atlanta Braves) got the call for the closing duties, a perfect opportunity for La Russa to get the new Cardinals' spikes wet in a fairly safe situation. Boyer got over any nerves he may have had, though, giving up a run, but basically cleaning up his own mess.

Sunday provides another afternoon opportunity for the Cards to beat the Cubs, to go for a sweep against a club that will most surely get to a much tougher state of being after some healing on their rosters.

Sunday's game starts at 1:15 p.m. CT at Busch Stadium.

Slated pitchers:

  • STL- Todd Wellemeyer (1-1, 5.29)
  • CHC- Rich Harden (1-1, 4.20)

photo by Barbara Moore