St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) – David Freese finished 2-for-3 with a two-run home run and drove in four as the St. Louis Cardinals forced a fifth and deciding game in their NL Division Series with a 5-3 decision over Philadelphia.
“The thing about David that makes him such a big run-producer now than in his whole career is he [hits to] left-center, right-center, and he can take the ball inside and pull it,” said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa of Freese. “And he can hit the ball outside and hit it to right field. You might get him, but he’s capable of making the adjustment. And as he gets more experience, he’s going to be a hellacious winning player.”
Skip Schumaker added two hits with a run scored and Lance Berkman posted an RBI double and scored once for the Cardinals, who recovered from Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to even the set at two games apiece.
Making his first postseason start, Edwin Jackson (1-0) overcame a shaky first inning, settling down to scatter five hits and two runs while fanning four in six innings.
Jason Motte completed a six-pitcher effort by turning in a perfect ninth to earn his second save.
Chase Utley posted an RBI triple and Hunter Pence notched a run-scoring single — both in the first inning — for the Phillies, who are facing a deciding playoff contest for the first time in 30 years.
Roy Oswalt (0-1) was tasked with helping send the five-time defending NL East champions into the next round. He ultimately failed, charged in defeat with five runs on six hits despite five strikeouts over six full frames.
The deciding contest will be Friday night in Philadelphia. Game 1 winner Roy Halladay goes for the Phils, opposed by Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter.
“If you don’t like to play in Philadelphia, something is wrong with you,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “And if we can’t get up for Game 5 in the playoffs, then so be it. That’s kind of how I look at it. We’re going to be up, and we’re going to show up, and we’re going to be ready to play.”
Already ahead by a run, the home team picked up valuable insurance in the bottom of the sixth. Matt Holliday, who made his first start in the series after missing four games with an injured finger, hit a one-out single and Freese provided a 5-2 margin when he launched a two-out, two-run blast to center.
Philly closed the gap to 5-3 in the eighth as pinch-runner Michael Martinez came in on a Fernando Salas wild pitch with one out. The visitors stranded a runner on second after Pence grounded out and Ryan Howard struck out against Marc Rzepczynski.
And then the club which collected the most wins in baseball couldn’t muster a baserunner against Motte in the ninth. Cards center fielder Jon Jay added some flair to the final out by making a diving catch of a Placido Polanco liner.
The Phillies jumped on Jackson in the first, thanks to three consecutive hits to begin the game. Jimmy Rollins slammed a ground-rule double to center and Utley drove him in with a triple. Pence’s solid single to center made it 2-0, but Pence was caught stealing as Howard fanned looking, then Shane Victorino flied out to end the rally.
The Cardinals responded in the home portion to halve their deficit. Schumaker singled with one out and Berkman doubled off the wall in right-center. Schumaker eventually came around to score when Victorino slipped and fell while attempting to deliver his relay throw.
In the fourth, Berkman worked a leadoff walk and Holliday was plunked on the elbow. Pence initially misjudged — then caught — a Yadier Molina liner which left runners on the corners, but Freese’s double down the left-field line plated both for a 3-2 St. Louis edge.
A squirrel briefly interrupted play in the bottom of the fifth inning, just after Oswalt delivered a pitch to Schumaker. Oswalt argued with home plate umpire Angel Hernandez, apparently asking for no pitch after the squirrel ran across the home plate area. Schumaker then flied out.
“There’s not too much I can do about a squirrel running across the field,” quipped Manuel. “I don’t know if I can — I don’t know what I can do about that. Of course being from the south and being a squirrel hunter, if I had a gun there, might have did something. I’m a pretty good shot.”
Utley’s leadoff walk in the sixth went for naught as he was cut down by first baseman Albert Pujols while trying to reach third on a fielder’s choice by Pence. Howard followed with a fly to center and Victorino grounded out.
“He’s always got an awareness of what the score is, and that was classic, and that’s part of his greatness,” La Russa said of his first baseman’s awareness on the crucial play.
St. Louis improved to 22-10 all-time in Division Series contests, while Philadelphia fell to 13-10 in NLDS tilts…The Cards also upped their record in NLDS Game 4’s to 4-0…Pujols finished 0-for-4 in what could have been his final home game as a Cardinal…Oswalt fell to 5-1 in 11 career playoff starts…Prior to Wednesday, he was just the second pitcher in MLB history (Orel Hershiser, 1985-95) to go undefeated in his first 10 postseason outings…Howard, 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, is just 2-for-15 and has fanned six times in the series…The Phillies, then defending World Series champions, lost that deciding Game 5 of the 1981 Division Series against Montreal at home…Philly did win a deciding Game 5 of the 1980 NLCS in Houston against the Astros and topped the Royals in the Fall Classic…Schumaker, who was removed from the game for Ryan Theriot in the sixth inning, suffered a left hamstring cramp and is day-to-day.