© 2006 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

10/05/06 7:36 PM ET

Cardinals Short Hops: Game 2

Pujols, pitching put Redbirds ahead 2-0 in series

SAN DIEGO -- Fielding the Cardinals' Game 2 win over the Padres on a short hop ...

In < 25 words...
Albert Pujols is as good as advertised, and the Cardinals' pitching is better than advertised. That's what we know after another Cards win.

Frozen moment
Pujols gave the Cards a 1-0 lead when he dropped a single into left field, but he appeared caught between first and second base when the throw home was cut off. The Padres botched the rundown, and Pujols ended up scoring a key add-on run on Jim Edmonds' infield hit three batters later.

Big numbers
Twelve, the number of times since National League Division Series play began in 1995, that a team took a two-games-to-none lead, and 10, the number of those that ended in three-game sweeps. The list includes Cardinals sweeps over the Padres in 1996 and 2005.

Game balls
Tyler Johnson, five. Came on for the start of the eighth inning and got called third strikes on both hitters he faced. He has struck out four of the seven hitters he's faced in Games 1 and 2.

Pujols, four. He also made a slick defensive play at first base in the bottom of the fourth inning and has been doing it all this week.

Jeff Weaver, four. The righty surrendered only two hits over five scoreless innings and pitched the last few frames almost exclusively with his curveball. It was quite a performance after he struggled through a 24-pitch, two-walk first inning.

Ronnie Belliard, two. He made another highlight-worthy defensive play at second base in the sixth inning and collected another hit. He struggled after a move from the American League to the National, but Belliard seems to have found a groove.

Sense of October
Another sellout crowd tried to get behind the home team, but the Cardinals gave them few openings. San Diego stranded seven men on base, but only moved a runner into scoring position three times against some impressive Cardinals pitching.

Lines of the Game
Albert Pujols
4 AB, 1 R, 3 H, RBI
Comment: OK, maybe it is time to start throwing up four fingers against this guy.

Josh Kinney
1 1/3 IP, BB, K
Comment: Another day, another rookie reliever shutting down the Padres. Kinney struck out Josh Bard to end the sixth inning, then worked around a two-out walk in the seventh to preserve the 2-0 lead.

"I'm going to have to start thinking about it."
-- Padres manager Bruce Bochy, on possibly changing his strategy of pitching to Pujols early in games.

Next step
The teams get another off-day Friday, but will work out at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Game 3 is set for Saturday afternoon, and Jeff Suppan is expected to start for the Cardinals against San Diego right-hander Chris Young in front of a home crowd.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.