The Phillies are built to win with dominant starting pitching, but for the second game in the four they’ve played this post-season they didn’t get it last night. Oswalt allowed five runs in six innings in front of an offense that has plated six runs in their last 25 times at-bat and the Phils fell 5-3 to even the series with the Cards heading into game five.
David Freese had a monster game for St Louis. Coming into his at-bat in the bottom of the fourth inning, Freese was 2-for-13 in the series with seven strikeouts. He knocked in four runs in his last two at-bats, going 2-for-2 with a two-run double and a two-run homer.
Rollins doubled to start the game and scored when Utley followed and ripped a triple down the first base line. Pence knocked Utley in with a single to put the Phils on top 2-0, but was caught stealing on a strike-’em-out-throw-’em-out-double-play with Howard at the plate that seemed to kill the early momentum for the Phils. Lance Berkman ripped a double to the gap in right-center in the bottom of the first, plating Skip Schumaker to cut the lead to 2-1. Oswalt walked Berkman to start the fourth and hit Matt Holliday behind him, putting two men on base for Freese. Freese doubled into the left field corner, clearing the bases and put the Cards on top 3-2. In his next at-bat, which came in the sixth, Freese pounded an Oswalt pitch way out to center for a long home run that extended the St Louis lead to 5-2. Singles by Gload and Utley and a wild pitch by Fernando Salas helped the Phils get a run in the top of the eighth to cut the lead to 5-3. Marc Rzepczynski struck Howard out with a man on second to end the eighth and Jason Motte set the Phils down in order in the ninth.
With the strikeout, Howard is 2-for-15 in the series. That’s part of a big problem for the Phils that has seen Rollins and Utley pound the ball at the top of the order while most of the rest of the lineup goes quiet. Rollins and Utley are 15-for-29 with seven extra-base hits and four walks in the series so far. Pence, Howard, Victorino, Ibanez, Mayberry, Polanco and Ruiz have combined to go 16-for-92 (.174) in the series with 14 singles.
If I never see Jason Motte on the mound for Cards again it would be okay with me. The Phils have one hit against him in 3 1/3 scoreless innings in the set. Octavio Dotel got two more outs for the St Louis pen as well, he has now thrown 2 2/3 scoreless innings in the series over three appearances without allowing a hit or a walk.
The NLDS between the Phillies and the St Louis Cardinals is tied at two games all after the Cards topped the Phils 5-3 last night.
Oswalt got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing five runs on six hits and a walk. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and a walk. He struck out five.
He faced a St Louis lineup that went (1) Rafael Furcal (SS/S) (2) Skip Schumaker (2B/L) (3) Albert Pujols (1B/R) (4) Lance Berkman (LF/S) (5) Matt Holliday (LF/R) (6) Yadier Molina (C/R) (7) David Freese (3B/R) (8) Jon Jay (CF/L). Holliday makes his first start of the series in left, moving Craig to the bench. Schumaker at second against the righty and moves up to second in the order with the hot righty Theriot on the bench. Freese dropped to seventh in the order with Holliday in the lineup.
St Louis had six hitters on the bench to start the game, righties Matt Theriot, Allen Craig and Gerald Laird, lefties Adron Chambers and Daniel Descalso and switch-hitter Nick Punto.
Oswalt started the bottom of the first with a 2-0 lead. He struck Furcal out swinging 0-2 for the first out, but Schumaker was next and the lefty lined a single the other way into left. Pujols popped to Polanco for the second out before Berkman drove a ball off the wall in right-center. Victorino seemed to be having trouble with the sun and slipped when he got to the ball as he tried to throw. The ball dribbled away and he picked it up as Berkman went to third. Schumaker scored to cut the lead to 2-1 and Victorino was charged with an error that allowed Berkman to take third on his double. Holliday grounded to second on a 2-1 pitch to leave Berkman stranded.
Victorino wasn’t charged with an error in 1,150 2/3 innings in center during the regular season.
Oswalt struck Molina and Freese both out swinging 0-2 for the first two outs of the second. Jay grounded to second for the third out.
The pitcher Edwin Jackson struck out looking 1-2 for the first out of the third. Furcal grounded to short for the second out before Schumaker singled to right. It brought Pujols to the plate with a man on first. Oswalt struck him out swinging 2-2 to leave Schumaker at first.
Five strikeouts for Oswalt through three innings. He had thrown 39 pitches.
Oswalt walked Berkman on five pitches to start the fourth. Holliday was next and Oswalt hit him on the right arm with the first pitch of his at-bat, putting men on first and second with nobody out. Molina drove a ball to right-center, but Pence tracked it down for the first out making a nice running grab. Freese was the next hitter and he doubled into the left-field corner. Berkman scored easily and Holliday slid in just ahead of the relay from Rollins for the second run, putting the Cards on top 3-2. Jay moved Freese up to third with a ground out to second. Oswalt got Jackson on a fly ball to right to end the inning.
Furcal tried to bunt for a hit to start the bottom of the fifth, but popped it up to Polanco in foul territory for the first out. Oswalt’s 1-1 pitch to Schumaker was a ball inside as a squirrel ran right past Schumaker. Discussion ensued. It was still a ball. Schumaker flew to center for the second out and Pujols flew to right.
Oswalt had thrown 62 pitches. He came up with a pretty funny line after the game about wondering how big an animal it would have had to have been for the pitch not to have counted. It makes it kinda hard for me not to picture a herd of bison or something. So at least we’ve got that if not a baseball team to follow that can score without the help of a wild pitch or an intentional walk from planet Wackadoo.
Berkman grounded to third on a 3-2 pitch for the first out of the sixth. Holliday was next and singled up the middle before Molina flew to left for the second out. Freese followed and hit a 1-0 pitch out to straight away center for a two-run homer, extending the St Louis lead to 5-2. Jay grounded to second for the third out.
Double and a home run for Freese in his last two at-bats.
Blanton pitched the seventh, making his first appearance of the series, and set St Louis down in order. Descalso, double-switched into the game in the top of the inning, flew to right for the first out. Furcal grounded to first for the second and Theriot grounded to short for the third.
Lidge started the eighth with the St Louis lead cut to 5-3. Pujols flew to right, Berkman flew to left and Holliday struck out swinging 1-2.
Two perfect innings for the pen as Lidge and Blanton don’t allow a hit or a walk. Lidge threw ten pitches in the game and Blanton eight. Everyone should be available on Friday.
Freese is hitting .267 in the series after going 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and four RBI. Schumaker also had two hits for the Cards, going 2-for-3. He’s 5-for-8 in the set.
Furcal 0-for-4 in the game and 4-for-18 so far.
Pujols 0-for-4 with a strikeout last night. 7-for-17 with three doubles in the series.
Berkman 1-for-3 with a walk and a double. 3-for-15 with a double, a homer and two walks in the series.
Holliday was 1-for-3 and scored two of the St Louis runs. 2-for-5 in the set.
Molina 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He’s 3-for-15 in the series with three singles.
Jay was 0-for-2. 2-for-11 with three walks in the series.
The Phillies lineup against righty Edwin Jackson went (1) Rollins (SS/S) (2) Utley (2B/L) (3) Pence (RF/R) (4) Howard (1B/L) (5) Victorino (CF/S) (6) Ibanez (LF/L) (7) Polanco (3B/R) (8) Ruiz (C/R). Mayberry back on the bench against the righty with Ibanez in left.
The Phils started the game with six players on their bench, righties John Mayberry, Wilson Valdez and Ben Francisco, lefties Brian Schneider and Ross Gload and switch-hitter Michael Martinez.
Rollins was the first batter of the game and hit a ball hard to center and over Jay’s head that bounced over the wall. Jay looked like he had some trouble finding the ball in the sun, but he might not have caught it even if he hadn’t. Utley was next and he ripped a ball passed Pujols and down the first base line. The ball kicked off the stands and Utley had a triple. Rollins scored to put the Phils up 1-0. Pence singled into center on the first pitch of his at-bat with Utley scoring from third to put the Phillies up 2-0. Howard was next and took a 3-2 pitch for called strike three as Pence took off for second and was thrown out on a close play to complete the double-play. Victorino flew to left for the third out.
I know it’s 3-2 and all, but I still think you want to avoid a caught stealing ahead of your five-hitter when every player you’ve sent to the plate in the game has gotten a hit. In his defense, Pence was probably safe.
Jackson struck out Ibanez and Ruiz in the second, both swinging. Polanco popped to Pujols in foul territory in-between.
Oswalt grounded to short for the first out in the third. Rollins was next and hit a ball back up the middle that Schumaker got to, but not in time to throw Rollins out at first. Utley was next and grounded out with Rollins forced at second for the second out. Pence grounded to third to leave Utley at first.
Howard struck out swinging 0-2 to start the fourth. Victorino was next and grounded to short for the second out. Ibanez flew to left for the third.
Jackson had thrown 44 pitches through four innings. He had been perfect since the first except for the infield single by Rollins.
The Phillies were trailing 3-2 when they hit in the fifth. Polanco led off and singled to left on a 2-2 pitch. Ruiz swung at the first pitch and flew to left for the first out. Oswalt bunted Polanco to second with the second. Rollins got ahead but grounded to first on a 2-1 pitch to set the Phillies down.
Utley led off the sixth with Theriot at second after Schumaker had grabbed at his leg during his at-bat in the fifth. He drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch that was outside. Utley was running 3-2 when Pence hit a ground ball to short. Furcal fielded and threw to first. Pujols saw Utley round second, came off of first and threw to third where Utley was tagged out for the first out of the inning. It brought Howard to the plate with one down and Pence on first. Howard got ahead 3-0, but flew to center on a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Victorino grounded to second to set the Phillies down.
That’s not so much a good play by Utley. We might want to cut him a little slack what with being the only guy who ever gets a hit and whatnot, though.
Lefty Arthur Rhodes took over for Jackson to start the seventh and struck Ibanez out swinging for the first out. Righty Octavio Dotel got Polanco on a ground ball to third for the second out. Ruiz flew to center to end the frame.
Righty Fernando Salas started the eighth for St Louis. Gload hit for Blanton and singled to right. Salas balked Gload to second and Martinez ran for Gload at second. Rollins smashed a 2-1 pitch, but Theriot took it on a short hop and threw to first for the first out with Martinez moving up to third. Utley chopped a 1-1 pitch up the first base line that hit first base and popped up in the air too high for Pujols to get it in time to get Utley. Utley had a single and Martinez moved up to third. Salas’s 1-2 pitch to Pence was outside and in the dirt. Molina couldn’t block it and Martinez scored from third to make it 5-3 with Utley moving up to second. Pence grounded to short for the second out with Utley holding second. Lefty Marc Rzepczynski took over for Salas and struck Howard out swinging 0-2 to leave Utley stranded.
Righty Jason Motte started the ninth for St Louis. He got behind Victorino 3-2, but threw two strikes in a row before Victorino grounded to Pujols for the first out. Ibanez didn’t come close to hitting Motte’s 0-2 pitch, a high fastball he waved at for the second out. Polanco got behind 0-2 and blooped a ball into right-center, but Jay made a nice sliding catch to end the game.
The Phils finally do something against Salas, who is charged with a run in two-thirds of an inning. The other four guys who pitched in relief for the Cards in the game combined to not allow a hit or a walk in 2 1/3 innings.
Rollins was 2-for-4 with a double. He’s 9-for-16 with a walk and four doubles in the series.
Utley 2-for-3 with a triple and a walk. 6-for-13 with two doubles, a triple and three walks.
If you had told me that Rollins and Utley were going to go 15-for-29 with seven extra-base hits and four walks in the set I wouldn’t have guessed the Phillies were going to win half the games.
Pence 1-for-4 with an RBI. 4-for-15 with two walks and four RBI in the series.
Howard 0-for-4 and struck out three times. 2-for-15 in the series with a walk, a home run and six RBI.
Victorino 0-for-4. 4-for-16 with four singles and two RBI.
Ibanez 0-for-4 and struck out three times. 3-for-12 with a home run and four RBI in the series. 1-for-8 since going 2-for-4 in game one.
Polanco 1-for-4. 2-for-16 with no walks in the series.
Ruiz 0-for-3 in the game and 1-for-14 in the series.
Roy Halladay will face righty Chris Carpenter tomorrow night in game five. Not really what we were hoping for, but it will at least give people a rare opportunity to use the phrase “must win” without hyperbole. Almost worth it.
But not quite.