—Citizens Bank Park
It’s not how you start, but how you finish. Just ask the St. Louis Cardinals. A night after the Phillies climbed from an early hole, the Cardinals decided to do the same.
Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa went with starter Chris Carpenter on three days rest and it didn’t work out as planned, but the offense ate away at a four-run deficit to win Game 2 of the National League Division Series 5-4 over the Philadelphia Phillies.
The series is now tied 1-1 heading back to St. Louis.
Carpenter would last just three innings on short rest – the first time he ever started a game on three days rest – throwing 64 pitches, only 34 for strikes.
Phillies starter Cliff Lee did strike out nine over six innings, but gave up five runs on 12 hits; the runs all coming between the fourth and seventh innings.
Jimmy Rollins would get the Phillies off to a fast start by ripping the first pitch from Carpenter off the top of the wall in right field that narrowly missed being a home run. Rollins would settle for a double. Carpenter then walked Chase Utley and Hunter Pence before Ryan Howard hit a two-run single to center field that glanced off the foot of the St. Louis starter. Two batters later, Raul Ibanez slapped a single to right to plate Pence for a quick 3-0 lead.
With two outs in the second inning, Rollins nearly had himself a home run again, hitting the top of the wall, this time in right-center field. Rollins again would stop at second base, but would make it home following a walk by Utley and an RBI single to right field by Hunter Pence to give Philadelphia a 4-0 lead. That ended the scoring for the Phillies.
Carpenter wasn’t happy with the results of his performance and he pinpointed why.
“All I talked about is, you need to control counts, locate your fastball, and get ahead to pitch well. I wasn’t able to do that early on in that first inning. And it cost me.”
And, although he did pitch on short rest, he said it was a breakdown between the ears, not a physical issue as to why he struggled.
“I really physically felt great. Mechanically I wasn’t as sharp as I would have liked and mentally I wasn’t as sharp as I would have liked.”
RBI singles by Yadier Molina, Ryan Theriot, and Jon Jay in the fourth inning cut the Cardinals deficit to 4-3. St. Louis nearly tied it on a single by Rafael Furcal, but Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz held on to a great throw by Ibanez from left field after being run over by Jay in front of home plate.
In the sixth, the Cardinals got to Lee again, this time with two outs. Theriot doubled to left field, then scored on a single to left by Jay, tying the game at four.
After a leadoff triple by Allen Craig – Matt Holiday’s injury replacement – Albert Pujols’ RBI single in the seventh gave the Cardinals a 5-4 lead that they would hold on to.
Timely hitting was part of the recipe for success for St. Louis, and Lee put the loss all on his shoulders. “They got some big hits when they needed to and I wasn’t able to make pitches I needed in the situations I needed to. I take full responsibility.”
Lee also said he didn’t do a good enough job taking what his offense gave him.
“Any time you give a pitcher a four run lead in the first two innings, you’re in a pretty good spot, and that’s the situation I was in and somehow squandered it away.”
Much of the offensive output from the Cardinals came from the bottom of the lineup. Molina, Theriot, and Jay combined to go 5-for-12 with three RBI.
Jay said the Cardinals showed resiliency in much the same way they had late in the year. “It’s definitely not somewhere you want to be (down 4-0 after two innings), but it’s the playoffs. We’re not going to quit, and that’s something the team has done all year.”
Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa continued his game of bullpen roulette, choosing Fernando Salas to relieve Carpenter for the fourth and fifth innings. Salas, who saved 24 games for the Cardinals during the regular season, retired all six Phillies he faced.Salas, along with relievers Octavio Dotel and Mark Rzepcynski, sat down 17 straight Phillies at one point, before Rollins singled with two outs in the seventh. In all, LaRussa would use seven pitchers; four in the eighth inning alone.
Jason Motte recorded his first ever postseason save by throwing 1 1/3 innings to close it out.
LaRussa lauded his team’s for not packing it in when faced with an uphill battle.
“I said before, if you watch us play a lot of times, we’re not perfect, but we try perfect. In baseball you get a base hit here and there and put a ball in play, good things happen.”