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Well i definitely think the pads can surprise people in this series. I think the key is going to be getting a split in St. Louis. I'd like to get that first game and taming that potent offense. Our bats are definitely going to need to get some run for our hurlers.
Well it only took about 5 innings for the rest of the world to see just how good the Cardinals really are. JP was touched up early for a couple of runs and then gave up a GrandSlam to former Padre, Reggie Sanders.
This is not good news for San Diego, everyone knows Jake is the leader of this pitching staff, for San Diego to overcome this showing from Peacy, and the rest of the pitching staff, not to curl up into the fetal position. We need to have a miracle. Good luck Padres I know i will be pulling for you.
JP, sometimes it happens brother....Dont hang your head.
ST. LOUIS – Reggie Sanders, Chris Carpenter and the St. Louis Cardinals looked every bit like the best team in baseball – even with a shaky ending.
Sanders hit a grand slam and set an NL division series record with six RBIs, Carpenter pitched six scoreless innings before being pulled as a precaution and the Cardinals built a big lead and held off the San Diego Padres 8-5 Tuesday in Game 1.
Facing a team that won the West despite an 82-80 record, the Cardinals – who led the majors with 100 wins – opened an 8-0 cushion in the fifth inning against Padres ace Jake Peavy.
But the pesky Padres weren't done. They scored once in the seventh, added another run in the eighth and then got right back into it in the ninth. San Diego scored three times and loaded the bases with two outs before closer Jason Isringhausen struck out Ramon Hernandez.
Mark Mulder will oppose San Diego's Pedro Astacio on Thursday in Game 2 of the best-of-five series.
Jim Edmonds helped out St. Louis with a home run, double and single. Eric Young had a pinch-hit homer in the eighth for San Diego and an RBI groundout in the ninth.
Manager Tony La Russa's team won for the fifth time in the six NLDS openers. That includes a win in 1996 when the Cardinals swept the Padres.
The 37-year-old Sanders had been on pace for the first 30-homer, 30-steal season of his career before missing 54 games after breaking his right leg in an outfield collision with Edmonds in mid-July. Sanders rediscovered his stroke in the final week, driving in 10 runs in the last six games, homering three times in the final four games.
Against Peavy, Sanders had both of the key hits. His two-run single off the glove of diving first baseman Mark Sweeney put the Cardinals ahead 4-0 in the third, and his grand slam into the left-field seats on a 3-0 fastball knocked out Peavy in the fifth.
Carpenter was 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA, the ace the Cardinals lacked in the playoffs last fall when they were swept in the World Series by the Red Sox. But he struggled in the final month, with a 9.14 ERA in his final four outings and saying he lost motivation after the Cardinals clinched the Central two weeks before the end of the season.
The Padres saw the dominant Carpenter again. He allowed only three singles while benefiting from three double plays from the team that led the majors.
His biggest battle was with the weather. It was an unseasonably warm 84 degrees at gametime and 86 when he experienced cramping in his right hand while warming up before the seventh. The Cardinals said dehydration caused the problem and took him out as a precaution.
Peavy appeared to be the Padres' best shot at postseason success after going 13-7 with a 2.88 ERA – only five points behind Carpenter – and leading the NL with 216 strikeouts. But he lasted only 4 1-3 innings, his second-shortest outing of the season and gave up eight runs on eight hits.
Peavy could return for Game 4 on Sunday in San Diego on regular rest if the series goes that far.
The Cardinals got to Peavy immediately. With one out in the first, Edmonds hit his 11th career postseason homer to the opposite field to give St. Louis the lead.
Five straight batters reached safely with one out in the third as the Cardinals scored three more times. A bases-loaded wild pitch by Peavy that didn't even reach the dirt allowed one run to score and Sanders' infield hit drove in two more.
In the fifth, four straight Cardinals reached with one out. Edmonds began the rally with a sharp grounder off Peavy's glove, Albert Pujols singled and Larry Walker walked to set up Sanders' grand slam.
Khalil Greene had a sacrifice fly off Cardinals reliever Brad Thompson in the seventh and Young homered off Randy Flores to start the eighth.
Mark Loretta and Brian Giles had RBI singles in the ninth.
Notes: Sanders is the third Cardinals player to hit a grand slam in the postseason. Gary Gaetti did it in the 1996 NLCS against the Braves' Greg Maddux and Ken Boyer did it in the 1964 World Series. ... Four players have had seven RBIs in division series play. ... The Padres were 4-3 against St. Louis this season, one of only four teams with a winning record against the Cardinals. ... Edmonds has hit seven homers in division series play, second among NL players to Chipper Jones of the Braves, who has eight.
Padres ace optimistic he can pitch with broken rib
ST. LOUIS -- If the San Diego Padres can get to Game 4 of their NL Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, ace Jake Peavy is optimistic he can pitch again with a broken rib.
"I wouldn't rule it out," Peavy said Wednesday. "We've got a great medical staff taking a look at all of our options, and I feel like we've got some pretty good options that we can take advantage of.
"Hopefully those can make me feel a whole lot better than I feel right now and I'll get back out there."
Peavy said team doctors are considering a numbing injection into the break, on his right side.
Peavy, who led the NL in strikeouts while going 13-7 with a 2.88 ERA, said doctors believe his start in Game 1 worsened a rib injury sustained during the Padres' on-field celebration after clinching the NL West title last week. But he said the doctors do not think he began the game with a broken rib.
Manager Bruce Bochy said he hadn't been aware of the injury, although Peavy said the team doctors knew. In the days before the playoffs started, Peavy was confident the injury would not hinder him.
"Honestly, this was a non-issue," Peavy said. "I felt like it was going to be no problem, as well as the whole staff. It wasn't even on the medical report.
"That's how insignificant we thought it was."
For now, Bochy has slotted Adam Eaton (11-5) for Game 4. Eaton had been the choice for a possible Game 5, but Bochy said that now would be determined later.
Bochy said Peavy's injury should not affect the team's mind-set.
"He's not pitching tomorrow or the following day, so that's behind us," Bochy said. "We've got to keep pushing. We've had to deal with injuries, numerous injuries throughout the season, and the club's done a great job of not dwelling on it, and they won't on this one."
Peavy wasn't sure when he broke the rib, although he said the best guess would be on his third-inning, bases-loaded wild pitch when his spikes caught on the rubber and the pitch didn't even make it to the dirt in front of home plate. In any case, he wasn't using it as an excuse for lasting only 4 1/3 innings and giving up all the runs in an 8-5 loss.
"I didn't know the extent of the injury until I came out of the game," Peavy said. "Up until the last pitch I was telling myself I was capable of making pitches.
"Obviously, I wasn't and I didn't."
Bochy said he thought Peavy threw well before the fifth, calling the Cardinals' three-run third "buzzard luck." Still, he hoped Peavy learned from this experience.
"It's one thing to be a competitor or a warrior, but there's a fine line between being a warrior and hurting a ballclub and Jake has to realize that," Bochy said. "You have to draw the line at some point where you're getting to the point of diminishing returns, sending a player out there who can't perform close to his capabilities."
Peavy said if he knew the injury was that serious, he would have said something. He said he felt "slowly worse and worse" as the game progressed.
"But there for a little bit I felt I was capable of making good pitches," he said. "It's real hard to start getting hit around and say you're hurt. That never looks good."
Down 0-2, desperate Padres need 'warrior' Williams to halt slide
By Tom Krasovic
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Woody Williams overcame an aneurysm that made his fingers numb, proved wrong the skeptics who said his shoulder would blow out, defied scouts who said his fastball was too slow.
Tonight, the 39-year-old's task is to ignite the Padres, who must beat the Cardinals or be swept out of the best-of-five division playoffs, which they trail two games to none.
"It's got to start with me," said Williams, who will usher Petco Park into its first postseason when he delivers the first pitch to David Eckstein, which is scheduled for 8:09 p.m. "That's what they brought me here for. It's a role I'm ready to take."
The Cardinals know firsthand what Williams can do. After General Manager Walt Jocketty obtained Williams from the Padres in August 2001, the right-hander went on a 7-1 tear, fueling a strong run that put the Cardinals in the playoffs.
St. Louis, which did Williams a huge favor by backing him with far better defense than the Padres had, got 45 wins from Williams in 3 1/2 seasons, plus six more in 12 postseason decisions.
"I don't think you'll find a better warrior than Woody," Cardinals pitcher Jason Marquis said. "If you're not going to have your ace on the mound, I would think Woody would be the one guy they want to have on the mound, just because of his competitive nature and his never-die attitude."
Although Williams has rated this season as the worst of his career – the right-hander's 4.85 ERA is his highest in 11 major league seasons – boosting others is what Williams often does on and off the field.
Five years ago, when Padres teammate Carlos Hernandez asked for donations to help victims of a flood in Venezuela, Williams promptly cut a check for five figures. The kindness was typical of Williams, teammates said.
Former teammates such as Marquis and Brett Tomko say Williams gave them wise counsel on baseball and life, and Padres pitcher Adam Eaton, who would start a Game 4, said Williams made sure Eaton could reach him for advice even when Williams worked for the Cardinals.
"What Woody did with me and the young guys was if he'd see you struggle and you were down, he'd say the right things to pick you up," Marquis said. "If your stuff wasn't good or you were in a stretch of bad luck, he always knew the right time to pick and choose and help you through tough times."
These are desperate times for the Padres, who lost both games in St. Louis without taking a lead and lost ace Jake Peavy to a fractured rib.
"We're playing for our lives right now," said right fielder Brian Giles.
Williams said he wants his teammates to count on him.
"It's very important that I get us off to a good start and shut them down early and set a good tone for the game," he said.
In his first tour with the Padres, Williams said he became a better pitcher after surviving an aneurysm near his left armpit. He said the brush with mortality reinforced the idea that there's more to his life than fastballs and change-ups.
Along the way, Williams proved sturdier than some who told him the Blue Jays dealt him to San Diego entering the 1999 season partly because they believed his arm would give out.
Of late, Williams has tried to salvage a disappointing season that proved cost-inefficient to the Padres. Signed to replace David Wells, another veteran pitcher with ample postseason experience, Williams was 6-11 with a 5.01 ERA entering September.
That's not what the Padres expected when they made Williams the highest-paid member of the rotation. Williams got $6.5 million in gross income from a $3 million salary and $3.5 million in bonuses for his 28 starts, which also guaranteed him a $5 million salary and up to $2.03 million in bonuses for 2006.
However, when the Padres most needed Williams down the stretch, the Texan responded by giving up two earned runs or fewer in six of seven outings. He has attributed the improvement to increased concentration and better luck.
Tonight he will make his first postseason start since giving up seven earned runs in Game 1 of last year's World Series at Fenway Park. In the playoffs earlier that October, Williams went 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA, including a dazzling outing at Houston in which he took a one-hitter into the eighth inning.
Shortly after the World Series, the Cardinals made the right move by letting Williams leave in free agency and trading for younger starter Mark Mulder, who went 16-8 with a 3.64 ERA and won Game 2 on Thursday.
Tonight Williams will try to keep his former teammates in San Diego for an extra 24 hours.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it," he said. "It's just a shame we're against the wall as much as we are. But my job is to go out there and help us continue the season."
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals surrounded Reggie Sanders in the clubhouse and chanted "MVP! MVP! MVP!"
They drenched him in so much champagne that he sprinted into the trainer's room for refuge, eventually re-emerging with a towel around his head.
Sanders and the Cardinals seem to be in a hurry to return to the World Series, and they weren't about to be slowed by the San Diego Padres.
Baseball's best team in the regular season, the Cardinals brushed aside San Diego just as almost everybody thought they would, winning 7-4 Saturday night for a three-game sweep of their first-round playoff series.
"Well, it never gets old," Sanders said between dousings. "It was fun. I'm not quite there yet with what's going on. When they say 'MVP,' it's numbing. It's not like it's over yet."
The Cardinals made it to the World Series last year before flopping in a four-game sweep by the Boston Red Sox. St. Louis advances to the NL championship series for the fourth time in six years, and will have home-field advantage against the winner of the Houston-Atlanta series. The Astros lead 2-1 -- they lost to St. Louis in seven games in last year's NLCS.
There is no MVP award for the first round -- but if there was, Sanders certainly would have won.
He drove in two more runs to set an NL division series record with 10, and little David Eckstein hit his first career postseason homer as the Cardinals chased former teammate Woody Williams before he could get out of the second inning.
Right-hander Matt Morris, who's been with the Cardinals since 1997 and is their longest-tenured player, recovered from his late-season struggles to hold the Padres hitless for 4 1-3 innings. With two on in the bottom of the ninth, Jason Isringhausen struck out Brian Giles and retired Ryan Klesko on a comebacker to earn his 10th career postseason save.
Sanders and Eckstein are the only Cardinals players with World Series rings. Eckstein won his with the Angels in 2002, and Sanders the previous season with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Cardinals were relatively subdued while celebrating on the field after the final out, but they let loose once they reached the cases of champagne in the clubhouse.
"It's nice," Jim Edmonds said. "We're trying to really be careful and not get it out of control. We're working toward the goal of winning the World Series. This is a good step."
"That's our mission," second baseman Mark Grudzielanek said. "We've got to get back there and try to win the thing. That's what it's all about."
And with the way Sanders drove in runs, they've got a good chance.
"He was phenomenal. You can't say enough about the guy," Grudzielanek said.
"He was big in each game," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "I don't think he had a meaningless RBI. He really lit it up for us. He was the guy that provided the margin where it wasn't quite as scary.
"He fits in," La Russa added. "One of the things we believe about our club is we have a bunch of guys who are prime-timers, who are not afraid to take big at-bats."
San Diego was as mediocre in this series as it was in winning the woeful NL West. The Padres never led, and their starting pitchers lasted only 10 innings, with a 13.50 ERA. San Diego (82-80) entered the playoffs with the worst winning percentage of a division champion (.506) in a non-strike season. Including this series, they finished one game under .500.
"When those guys have the lead, they smell blood," Padres leadoff hitter Dave Roberts said. "No one expected anything from us."
Other than a ninth-inning rally by the Padres that fell short in Game 1, this series was like a bully kicking sand in the face of a 98-pound weakling at the beach. Sanders, who played for the Padres in 1999, did the most damage.
In Game 1, he hit a grand slam off ace Jake Peavy and finished with an NL division series-record six RBI, then drove in two more runs in Game 2.
Saturday night, Sanders stepped in against Williams with the bases loaded and two outs in the second, and lined a 1-1 pitch into left field for a 5-0 lead.
"Sanders killed us," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "He had a big series."
Four batters earlier, Williams left an 85 mph pitch over the middle of the plate and Eckstein -- the 5-foot-7, 165-pound shortstop -- drove it over the left-field fence for a two-run homer. It was Eckstein's 24th career postseason game. He had three hits and a walk.
Williams made four postseason starts for St. Louis last year, including Game 1 of the World Series, when he allowed seven runs and eight hits over 2 1-3 innings for a no-decision in an 11-9 loss.
Williams was shaky from the start of San Diego's first home postseason game since 1998. Eckstein singled to shallow left-center on the second pitch and scored on Albert Pujols' double to right-center with one out.
The Cardinals batted around in the second. Morris was aboard for Eckstein's homer, then Williams loaded the bases by allowing a double to Jim Edmonds, intentionally walking Pujols and hitting Larry Walker with a pitch on the right knee. Sanders' double chased the 39-year-old right-hander.
"When he's seeing everything good, there's not a whole lot you can do about it," Williams said.
Williams allowed five runs and six hits in 1 2-3 innings, struck out two and walked two.
Morris held San Diego to two runs and five hits in six innings, struck out four and walked three. He began the year 10-1 but ended the regular season with a career-high five-game losing streak, spanning seven starts.
St. Louis took a 7-0 lead on Yadier Molina's two-run single in the fifth. All-Star closer Trevor Hoffman made his first appearance of the series for the Padres in the ninth, but San Diego trailed by three runs.
The Padres finally broke through against Morris a half-inning later. Joe Randa hit a one-out double and scored on a single by pinch-hitter Eric Young. Mark Loretta singled in Young.
Roberts homered in the seventh off Brad Thompson, and Ramon Hernandez connected in the eighth against Julian Tavarez.
This was the first playoff game in Petco Park's two-year history, and the first postseason game in San Diego since Game 4 of the 1998 World Series, when the New York Yankees completed a sweep. ... San Diego has lost seven straight postseason games. ... The Padres also were swept by the Cardinals in the 1996 division series.