OK, Matt Holliday homered last night and hot-dogged it some; Lance Berkman paid by getting a haircut. will we have a ballgame tonight or will the match devolve into a Pirate-Brewer pose-fest?
Jake Westbrook started for the Cards, and it was not a frame he'll want to remember. JT walked and was doubled to third by Alex Presley. McCutch singled home a run and Dewey another. A force out moved McCutchen to third and Garrett Jones walked to load them. Josh Harrison lifted a sac fly, and Ronny Cedeno ended the frame with a grounder to second capped by a late headfirst slide into first. Still, it's 3-0 before the Cards got to sit down. They were back on defense in a hurry; J-Mac put them away 1-2-3.
The Bucs went down in order in the second, and it was St. Louis' turn to crow. A leadoff walk to Matt Holliday was followed an out later by a David Freese knock. The next hitter, Yadier Molina, cranked his twelfth dinger of the year over the left field wall, and that quickly it was three all. It wasn't a huge blast, dropping into the first row a few feet inside the pole, but whether Ruthian or not, it was gone.
Both sides drew a walk in the third, inflicting no further damage on the scoreboard.
In the fourth, Cedeno singled with one away and was moved to second by McDonald. Jose Tabata drilled a double, and the Bucs were back on top 4-3. The Cards tried for two-out lightning with back-to-back singles, but J-Mac retired his counterpart on a fly to center to keep the lead intact.
McCutch singled to open the fifth. With two away, he swiped second, leading to an intentional walk of Jones. That was followed by an improbable four pitch walk to free swinging Harrison, loading the sacks. Cedeno hit a first pitch, a hung slider, to left for a routine out, and the Bucs stranded three. It was a good pitch to hit but RC got under it and skied the ball instead of driving it.
After a pair of fly outs, Albert Pujols walked and stole second. He coulda stole third too, for all it mattered, as J-Mac K'ed Holliday. The Bucs went down cleanly in the sixth, and McDonald was now stepping into his sixth inning red zone. After falling behind Berkman 3-0, McDonald fought back to run the count full and retired him on a fly to center. He nailed Freese and Molina, too, and avoided his personal wall.
McCutch started the seventh with a single. That brought on lefty Arthur Rhodes to turn Dewey and Walker around with Jones in the hole. All the action was defused when McCutch was nailed stealing on Rhode's first pitch, a high heater that was easy for Molina to handle. McCutchen got a late jump to boot, so he either had a terrible read off a lefty or there was confusion on a hit-and-run call between he and Dewey.
Doumit was out number two on a swinging bunt fielded by Ol' Man River and Walker flew out. It was 4-3 at the seventh inning stretch. J-Mac came out and was greeted by a Rafael Furcal single. That rang the phone for Jason Grilli. McDonald went six innings, giving up three runs on five hits, three walks and five K's while tossing 91 pitches.
Grilli struck out Jon Jay looking at a fastball. Skip Schumaker hit a little bleeder, soft enough to get Furcal to second. Allen Craig bounced out and the Bucs were still up a run. Kyle McClelland climbed the hill for the Redbirds and put the Bucs down in order.
Pujols, Holliday and Berkman are due up for St. Louis against Jose Veras. Sir Albert K'd on a curve, but JV lost Holliday on a 3-2 hook. It would be costly; Berkman ripped a first pitch, knee-high heater over the right center wall, his 30th of the year, to put St. Louis up 5-4.
The Bucs last chance depends on Xavier Paul, JT and Presley. McClelland got Paul to pop out. Tabata drilled one to second, but Theriot made the play. Presley K'ed, and the Bucs snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
It's pretty much been the same old story. The Bucs couldn't add on after a quick lead, and the pitching couldn't seal the deal. Clint Hurdle had a lot of success by saving Hanny to close, but he might want to try to use him in the high leverage situations - and Pujols, Holliday and Berkman up in the eighth qualifies as one in our book - when the situation calls for it.
It won't be easy to salvage tomorrow's game. Chris Carpenter is on the hill, facing Brad Lincoln.