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05/25/2005 Archived Entry: "MLB News: NL Roundup 5-25-2005"
MLB News: NL Roundup 5-25-2005, by Norman LeRoy
Padres wrest control of West from D-backs; Cards, Marlins win
Spring is drawing to a close, school is letting out around the country and the divisional races are beginning to take shape. Three games went to extra-innings last night as the lead changed in the NL West and the Cards and Marlins won yet again. Here’s your recap of last nights action in the National League.
San Diego Padres 9, Arizona Diamondbacks 5
Both bullpens got a workout in this one, as the Padres (27-18), who used six relievers of their own, beat up on the Diamondbacks bullpen in taking the first game of an important three game battle in Phoenix. San Diego scored five runs off four Arizona relievers in the games final two innings, breaking open a tight 4-3 game and seizing back control of the NL West from the D-backs.
The Padres jumped on Arizona starter Russ Ortiz early, scoring three runs in the first, two the result of a two-out Ramon Hernandez double. Ortiz (L4-3) struggled mightily, giving up four runs on eight hits and six walks, but kept his team in the game, departing after six-innings with a 4-3 deficit.
Padres starter Adam Eaton (W 7-1) pitched a solid game, but tired in the sixth after 98 pitches, and was replaced by Rudy Seanez with two outs and runners on first and third. A Chad Tracy single to right and a Luis Gonzalez infield hit scored both base-runners, closing the book on Eaton’s effort and leaving him with a line of three earned on nine hits in 5.2 innings. Eaton walked one and struck out five.
A cavalcade of relievers followed, with the Padres getting the best of it, hammering out a home-run, two doubles and a triple to put the game out of reach. Pinch-hitter Robert Fick had the homer- his second of the year coming on an eighth inning lead off shot to right field- and Dave Roberts supplied a two-out RBI triple in the ninth. The speedy Roberts went 3-for-6 with two triples and an RBI in the game, and team-mate Phil Nevin chipped in with a 3-for-4, 2 RBI outing. Game two of the series between the NL West’s top teams takes place tonight.
St. Louis Cardinals 2, Pittsburgh Pirates 1
The Pittsburgh Pirates (19-24) came to St. Louis looking to make statement against the divisional powerhouse Cardinals (29-16), but have been taught a lesson in baseball instead, suffering two heart-breaking defeats in consecutive taut contests. The savvy Cardinals reached deep into their bag of tricks last night, doing all of the little things in pulling out a twelve-inning victory.
Lesson one: defense. Unable to get their offense on track against Pirates starter Kip Wells, who only allowed four hits and two walks in 7.1 innings, the Cardinals made several outstanding plays in the field to keep the game within reach, turning four double plays and throwing out three Pirate base-runners. In addition, left-fielder Reggie Sanders tracked down a sure double in the sixth, while Jim Edmonds had his typical stellar day, just reaching a fly ball to deepest center-field in the tenth. Cardinals starter Jason Marquis was the beneficiary of the Redbirds defensive prowess, allowing only one run in five innings despite putting eleven Pirates on base, five with free passes.
Lesson two: timely hitting. The Cardinals made the most of their paltry six hits, putting two of them together in the twelfth to finish the game. A Reggie Sanders single, a ground-out and an intentional walk brought catcher Yadier Molina to the plate with a chance to seize the win; he delivered, smashing a hard grounder that pinballed off third-sacker Rob Mackowiak’s glove and then just eluded shortstop Jack Wilson on its way to leftfield. Pirates closer Jose Mesa took the loss, his record plummeting to 0-4, and Al Reyes (2-0) got the win in relief.
Redbirds skipper Tony LaRussa picked up his 823rd win in a Cardinal uniform, surpassing Whitey Herzog for second on the teams all-time list in a game that saw first baseman Albert Pujols ejected for arguing balls and strikes.
Florida Marlins 4, Philadelphia Phillies 3
The Marlins (26-16) clinched the series victory at home despite the heroics of young Philly flame-thrower Brett Myers. Myers two-hit the Marlins through seven innings, walking three, striking out three, and leaving with his team in the lead, 3-0—three’s all around. A two-run fourth and an insurance run in the seventh seemed appeared sufficient to power Philadelphia (21-26) to victory, but Florida scratched back two in the eighth then tied the game on Damion Easley’s two-out solo shot in the ninth, setting up the pivotal tenth frame.
Nine-year minor-leaguer Joe Dillon led off the inning with a walk off Amaury Telemaco (L 0-1), then scampered home from first on a Carlos Delgado double, giving the fish their sixth straight win and preserving their 1.5 game lead in the NL East. Florida starter Josh Beckett allowed the late-inning heroics by keeping his team in the game, throwing seven solid innings of six-hit ball, surrendering three runs while walking two and striking out six. John Reidling (W-2-0) worked the top of the tenth and earned the win.
That’s how your division leaders fared, now for the rest of yesterday’s action:
Cincinnati Reds 4, Washington Nationals 3
The banged-up Nats (24-22) came to Cincinnati (17-28) looking to fatten up against the reeling Reds before facing Eastern beasts Florida and Atlanta, but find themselves in danger of being swept instead. Yesterdays defeat was particularly galling, as they gave up the game-winning hit in the fourteenth inning to a relief pitcher who had been honing his craft in the minors just two days before. Washington stranded seventeen runners, eleven in scoring position, and wasted another fine effort from starter Livan Hernandez, who gave up a bases-clearing double to Austin Kearns in the first and then shut down the Reds the rest of the way.
Finding themselves in a 3-1 hole, Washington began to chip away. After Marlon Byrd brought home Nick Johnson on a sacrifice fly in the fifth, the Nationals seemed to seize the games momentum by tying it with two-outs in the ninth, when a Carlos Baerga pinch-hit single brought the pesky Mr. Johnson home again.
Fate was toying cruelly with the Nats, however, as they stranded runners in scoring position in both the tenth and eleventh innings, then got shut down completely by young Randy Keisler (W 1-0), who allowed only one walk in two innings of work. Keisler was forced to the plate in the bottom of the fourteenth with one out and runners on second and third, the Reds having run out of pinch-hitters. Washington reliever Luis Ayala (L 2-3) would in retrospect have preferred to face a time-traveling Johnny Bench, because he is now forced to live with the indignity of losing a game to the feeble bat of a rookie pitcher. Keisler’s weak grounder just rolled through a drawn-in infield, the Reds danced on the field, and the Nats trudged to the dugout thinking of all that might have been.
Livan Hernandez struck out eight in seven innings in picking up no decision, while counterpart Brandon Claussen allowed two runs in six innings on seven hits and four walks, earning himself no recognition in the scorebook either.
Chicago Cubs 4, Houston Astros 2
Astros starter Roger Clemens dominated the Cubs (21-22) through five-innings, surrendering only two hits while striking out six, but he was knocked out of the game by a groin strain, allowing the Cubs to surge to their third straight win against a faltering Houston bullpen. Chicago scored four times in the eighth, the final time when a Brad “Lights Out” Lidge (L 1-2) offering evaded catcher Brad Ausmus, allowing Derrek Lee to race home with the games final run. Todd Hollandsworth and Jeromy Burnitz singled in the inning's other runs, as Chicago clinched the three-game series in front of a delighted home crowd, and the woeful ‘stros fall to 15-30. Sergio Mitre went seven for Chicago, allowing two runs on five hits while walking one and striking out five and Michael Wuertz (W 3-2) was credited with the victory for .2 innings of work. Ryan Dempster closed out the ninth for his fourth save.
Atlanta Braves 4, New York Mets 0
Mets starter Tom Glavine (L 3-5) continues to be hexed by his former team, getting no run support whatsoever in getting tagged with his fifth loss of the season. The Mets (23-23) were stifled by the Braves Tim Hudson (W 5-3), who allowed only six hits in eight shutout innings. Johnny Estrada went 3-for-4 with an RBI for the Braves (26-19), who kept pace with the division leading Florida Marlins, ending the game 1.5 games out of first in second place. Glavine was charged with four earned runs on seven hits in the losing effort; Atlanta goes for the series sweep tonight in Atlanta.
San Francisco Giants 5, Los Angeles Dodgers 3
Giants ace Jason Schmidt (W 3-1) came off the disabled list to sling five serviceable innings past the Dodgers, who drop to 23-21 with the loss. Schmidt didn’t have full command of his pitches, but he gutted it out through five innings in which he surrendered three runs on five hits. Schmidt, who helped his own cause with a home run, walked three and struck out six. Jeff Weaver (L 4-4) continues to struggle for the Dodgers, giving up two home runs in four sub-par innings. Weaver allowed five runs on eight hits and only twirled 68 pitches before Dodger skipper Jim Tracey had seen enough. Mike Matheny hit the other homer for the Giants (22-22), a three-run clout in the fourth that doomed Weaver’s night and sealed the game. Tyler Walker earned .2 innings for his seventh save. The two teams face off in Dodger-land again tonight.
Milwaukee Brewers 6, Colorado Rockies 1
Milwaukee (22-23) clinched the series victory over Colorado (13-30) with a commanding victory. Carlos Lee paced the Brewers offense, going 2-for-4 with a homer and four RBI’s in a game that was never in doubt. Victor Santos (W 2-4) went six innings for the win, allowing one earned run on six hits while striking out six and walking one. Rookie lefty Jeff Francis (L 4-2) had a rare off day, giving up all six Brewers runs in 5.1 innings of work. Sanders allowed nine hits, struck out four and walked two. The Rockies fall to 3-20 on the road in the midst of yet another tough season.
Well, that’s the day that was in the senior circuit. If you have any comments or suggestions, or just spot the inevitable error, feel free to contact me at NLeRoy@baseballguru.com . Cheers, and enjoy tonight’s games!