Giants get off to a Lofty start
|| GIANTS COVERAGE
||SIGHTS & SOUNDS
|| CARDINALS COVERAGE
By Josh Rawitch / MLB.com
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ST. LOUIS -- Giants manager Dusty Baker knows his history. He believes in fate and he also believes in omens, so one would think that Baker would be glad to know that in each of the last nine postseasons, the National League Championship Series has been won by the team that captured Game 1.
That's the position he and his club find themselves in after pounding Cardinals ace Matt Morris and quieting the 52,175 fans at Busch Stadium Wednesday night with a 9-6 victory in the opening game of the LCS.
"We haven't won anything yet," said Baker, who pointed out that he's played on teams that have won the first two games of a series, only to lose four straight. "We've got a team over there that's full of pride, guys that are used to winning just like we're used to winning."
Still, Baker has to be pleased that his team is now guaranteed of at least a split before it heads back to San Francisco after dominating the only team in baseball hotter than his. In fact, the only real threat posed by St. Louis until the bottom of the fifth inning came during a bench-clearing incident triggered by Kenny Lofton that managed to awaken the Cardinals, but just a tad too late.
Morris (0-1) simply lacked command from the start, walking the first batter of the game, Lofton, on five pitches. The Giants took no chances and played for an early run as Rich Aurilia sacrificed Lofton to second base before Jeff Kent scooted him to third on a grounder to second. After a walk to Barry Bonds on four pitches, Benito Santiago's dribbler up the third-base line scored Lofton.
After Morris struck out the first two hitters in the second, Lofton started another San Francisco rally. His single to center gave him a hit in each of the Giants' six postseason games thus far. The fleet-footed outfielder then stole second and was on his way to stealing third when Aurilia's single to right brought him home. Kent followed with a single to put runners on first and second, forcing Morris to pitch to Bonds.
The result was as expected. Bonds launched a rocket into the gap in right-center, scoring Aurilia and Kent, and the rout was on. Bonds pulled into third with a triple when center fielder Jim Edmonds slipped and came home on Santiago's second hit. In the third, Lofton's two-out solo home run gave the Giants their sixth run. It was that homer, though, that brought life back to the Cardinals.
In the top of the fifth, Mike Crudale had replaced Morris and the second batter he faced was Lofton, who took exception to a first-pitch fastball that whizzed by his shoulder. More >
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
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ST. LOUIS -- Even the most rose-colored of glasses could not have led the Cardinals to believe they would go 11-0 in the playoffs. It has, after all, never been done. But the Redbirds gave it a good shot.
Time and again on Wednesday night, St. Louis made a seemingly out-of-hand game interesting. The Cardinals could never hold the Giants close enough for long enough, but the 52,175 at Busch Stadium got an entertaining ballgame for their ticket dollars. St. Louis trails 1-0 in the National League Championship Series after losing, 9-6. But the game was tighter, for longer, than it had any right to be.
"Pitching kind of let us down today, but it's one of those games," said reliever Dave Veres, who tossed two shutout innings. "It was a great job by the offense to keep battling. Our defense was great. We had chances and they had plenty of chances."
Ace Matt Morris was pummeled for seven runs -- more than in the rest of his playoff career combined -- on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings before the Cardinals bullpen restored order. Miguel Cairo continued his superb play in place of the injured Scott Rolen, tallying three hits including a homer, and Jim Edmonds reached base three times. But the early holes were too much for the Cardinals to dig out of.
"They put runs early on the board and we just tried to fight back," Albert Pujols said. "We scored six runs, but it was too late. We just need to come back tomorrow. It's a new day. Forget about tonight."
Morris got too little of the plate in the first inning and too much in the second. In the first, he walked Kenny Lofton and Barry Bonds before Benito Santiago drove in Lofton with an infield hit. He threw 26 pitches in the first -- eight of them for strikes. In the second, after the first two batters struck out, the Giants recorded six straight base hits. Bonds' two-run triple into the gap in right-center was the big blow in a four-run outburst.
"I don't think anything was on tonight. They had an explosion of hits (in the second), six in a row I think. Something pathetic like that. The bottom line is, I put our team in a bad hole," Morris said.
Trailing 5-0, St. Louis put runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the second. But the Cardinals could manage only an RBI groundout by Fernando Vina before Eli Marrero flied out to right field to end the inning. It was the first of several missed opportunities for St. Louis, which didn't lack for hits.
"We battled back all night," Martinez said. "We never put our heads down. We came back and battled. It was my fault. I had a couple chances this game to drive in some runs and didn't do it. If I come through in one of those situations, it's a different game."
|San Francisco Giants 9, St Louis Cardinals 6|
|San Francisco|| AB|| R|| H|| RBI|| BB||SO||LOB||AVG|
3B: Bonds (1, Morris).
HR: Lofton (1, 3rd inning off Morris, 0 on, 2 out), Bell (1, 5th inning off Morris, 0 on, 1 out), Santiago (1, 6th inning off Crudale, 1 on, 2 out).
RBI: Santiago 4 (4), Aurilia (1), Bonds 2 (2), Lofton (1), Bell (1).
2-out RBI: Santiago 3, Aurilia, Bonds 2, Lofton.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Sanders 3, Snow.
Team LOB: 6.
SB: Lofton (1, 2nd base off Morris/Matheny).
|St Louis|| AB|| R|| H|| RBI|| BB||SO||LOB||AVG|
a-Walked for Crudale in the 6th. b-Homered for Veres in the 8th.
2B: Marrero (1, Rueter), Edmonds (1, Rueter).
HR: Pujols (1, 5th inning off Rueter, 1 on, 2 out), Cairo (1, 6th inning off Rueter, 1 on, 0 out), Drew (1, 8th inning off Worrell, 0 on, 2 out).
RBI: Vina (1), Pujols 2 (2), Cairo 2 (2), Drew (1).
2-out RBI: Pujols 2, Drew.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Martinez 3, Marrero.
Team LOB: 8.
CS: Robinson (1, 2nd base by Rodriguez/Santiago).
|San Francisco|| IP|| H|| R|| ER|| BB||SO||HR||ERA|
|Rueter (W, 1-0)
|Nen (S, 1)
|St Louis|| IP|| H|| R|| ER|| BB||SO||HR||ERA|
|Morris (L, 0-1)
Rueter pitched to 2 batters in the 6th.
HBP: Renteria (by Rueter).
Pitches-strikes: Rueter 95-57, Rodriguez 38-20, Worrell 20-12, Nen 18-13, Morris 88-46, Crudale 29-15, Veres 18-15, Kline 16-11.
Ground outs-fly outs: Rueter 10-4, Rodriguez 0-4, Worrell 1-1, Nen 1-1, Morris 7-4, Crudale 1-2, Veres 1-3, Kline 2-0.
Batters faced: Rueter 25, Rodriguez 8, Worrell 4, Nen 4, Morris 26, Crudale 7, Veres 6, Kline 3.
Umpires: HP: Randy Marsh. 1B: Jeff Nelson. 2B: Dale Scott. 3B: Jeff Kellogg. LF: Tim Welke. RF: Charlie Reliford.
Weather: 68 degrees, partly cloudy.
Wind: 5 mph, In from CF.
Box score official statistics approved by Major League Baseball and the Office of the Commissioner
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