Cardinals short hops10/16/2004 10:22 PM ET
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- The Cards have been there before in these playoffs -- losing Game 3 on the road after winning the opening two games at home in the series.
Opposing starting pitching performances made the big difference in both their National League Division Series and the NL Championship Series.
The Dodgers' Jose Lima threw a 4-0 shutout at Dodger Stadium to close the gap in the best-of-five NLDS, which the Cards wrapped up the next night.
On Saturday, it was Roger Clemens, who threw seven innings of four-hit ball as the Astros won, 5-2, at Minute Maid Park.
An anomaly? The Cards have been outscored, 9-2, in Game 3s, while outscoring the opposition, 36-19, in other games.
A look at key statistics through Game 3 of the NLCS.
||Starters spanked early in each game, that was the Dodgers' problem
||Clemens shut them down on five hits through six innings, BA falls 53 points
||Only second time in seven postseason games they've scored less than six
||Haven't made an error yet in the postseason, that's 63 innings and counting
||.385 (5-for-13, 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R)
||Another homer, this one on his first pitch from Clemens in the first inning
||.364 (4-for-11, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R)
||Has been on base six times in the series, including four of his last six ABs
||.154 (2-for-13, 1 RBI, 2 R)
||Need him to set the table and he's not even washing the dishes
||.091 (1-for-11, one single)
||This after batting .455 (5-for-11) in the NLDS against the Dodgers
Behind the numbers
Cardinals' three starters -- Woody Williams, Matt Morris and Jeff Suppan -- have allowed 10 runs and 15 hits in their 17 innings of work in this series.
Not one particular Game 3 moment, although allowing Clemens off the hook early was probably the key to the loss. The Cards had homered off Clemens in each of the first two innings and had runners on first and second with two out in the fourth when Mike Matheny struck out on an outside splitter. All seven of the Rocket's strikeouts came after one man was out in the fourth.
How many times is manager Tony La Russa going to go to this well? Bringing in left-hander Ray King to turn switch-hitting Lance Berkman around to the right side hasn't worked yet. La Russa did it during the eighth inning of Game 1 and Berkman homered. La Russa did it again during the eighth inning of Game 3 and Berkman homered. In both games, King then got Jeff Kent out and was pulled.
Lots of playoff games
This was the 150th playoff game in Cardinals history, fourth on the all-time list behind the Yankees (323), Dodgers (154) and Braves (151). The Cards are 80-70.
Jim Edmonds hit his ninth postseason homer, a leadoff shot against Clemens in the second inning. That's his second of this postseason and the most overall in Cardinals history. Albert Pujols already has six postseason homers.
"We played ourselves into an edge in the series, and I was really pleased with what I saw today. We were grinding those at-bats like we needed to. We pitched well enough to give us a chance to win. I feel like we've earned the edge and somewhere, somehow, we'll make that edge pay off because we're going to play the same way [Sunday]." -- La Russa
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.