10/03/11 2:41 AM ET
Performer of the game: Cards closer Motte
St. Louis relief corps throws six scoreless frames to pick up Carp
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
But these weren't just any nine pitches, nor were they just any four outs.
Instead, Motte's dominant outing put a tidy bow on the Cardinals' 5-4 comeback victory on a night when the Phillies' dangerous lineup was essentially reduced to rubble by St. Louis' revamped bullpen.
Motte and five relievers combined for six shutout innings as the Cardinals tied the series, with Game 3 set for Tuesday at Busch Stadium at 4 p.m. CT on TBS.
Spin to Win
Motte, throwing 97-mph fastballs with ease during a 1-2-3 ninth inning, tried his best to ignore the sellout crowd of 46,575 at Citizens Bank Park. That tactic only got him so far, though.
"I was [hyped up], but not too pumped up," he said. "I was just going out there trying to relax, throw strikes, get ahead of guys and just get them out.
"At this point, every game is a big game, and every environment is going to be a little bit harsh. These fans here, from the first inning, these guys are ready to go. They're cheering, waving those towels around, but you've just got to go out there, and we have a job to do."
And now, we have a series.
The Cardinals' bullpen, with only two holdovers from the Opening Day roster in Motte and Mitchell Boggs, allowed just one hit over the final six innings, with no walks and six strikeouts.
St. Louis relievers worked fast, were efficient and shut down a Phillies team that scored 11 runs during Game 1 and four more in the first two innings on Sunday.
"The bullpen tonight is the story," Cardinals left fielder Lance Berkman said. "We scrapped to get back into this thing, but without their contributions, we don't have a chance."
Not after starting pitcher Chris Carpenter, pitching on three days' rest for the first time in his career, was roughed up from the start in Game 2, allowing three runs in the first inning. He got through three innings before manager Tony La Russa went to Fernando Salas in the fourth.
"I'm not going to lie to you. I was surprised when I saw Salas warming up in the second inning," said reliever Octavio Dotel, who got four outs, two on strikeouts. "I was like, 'Whoa.' But in this postseason, you've got to be expecting anything.
"When I see them take Carp out in the third inning, I was like, 'Well, we have just got to step up and try to do our job and try to keep everything as close as we can.' And that's what we did tonight."
Dotel, who turns 38 next month, got the victory Sunday, his first in the postseason since 1999, when he was pitching for the Mets in the NL Championship Series against the Braves.
While Salas, Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski and Boggs worked their way through the middle of the game, the Cardinals' offense rallied, scoring three runs in the fourth inning and once in the sixth and then one more run in the seventh to take the lead.
Arthur Rhodes got one out in the eighth inning before turning the ball over to Motte, who made quick work of the Phillies.
"Our bullpen has been fabulous all year. There have been ups and downs at times, but for the most part, they've been great," Carpenter said. "With the addition of Dotel and Arthur, bringing in some veteran leadership down there to that bullpen has been huge.
"And it's been putting everybody in position to go out and be as successful as they can."
On Sunday, that position was clear: dominance and now with the reality of playing two games at home on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"I mean, they were heroes, all the way through the bullpen," La Russa said.