Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - At Miller Park (Edwin Jackson - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent: Milwaukee Brewers (Shaun Marcum - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance: 42,384
In the first game of a three-game series, newly acquired Cardinal starting pitcher Edwin Jackson had a strong outing - limiting the Brewers to one run on six hits in seven innings of work. However, if not for two costly errors by the right side of the Milwaukee infield, Jackson would have exited this game on the wrong side of a 1-0 score - and more importantly, the Cardinals would have lost this game to remain 9.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves - the team they were chasing for that postseason wild card berth. Instead, thanks to a pair of unearned runs, the Redbirds kept their postseason hopes alive with a 2-1 win over the Brew Crew.
Brewers starting pitcher Shaun Marcum pitched admirably, but defensive lapses in the sixth-inning gave the Cardinals a golden opportunity to break a scoreless tie - and they cashed in.
The inning began with Skip Schumaker hitting a routine ground ball to first baseman Prince Fielder, which went under his glove and through his legs to right fielder Corey Hart - as Schumaker skipped to first base. Next up - Rafael Furcal bounced one - with a lot of topspin - to second baseman Jerry Hairston - who misjudged the effect the topspin would have on the ball when he tried to field it. He got in front of it, but the ball hit the heel of his glove for an error. Three inches lower, and he would have at least gotten the force out at second - perhaps a double play.
Instead, with runners on first and second, Yadier Molina lined a single to center to load the bases for Edwin Jackson - who drove in the first run of the game with base hit to right - as the bases remained loaded for Jon Jay - who drove in the second run of the game with a sacrifice fly. That was it: Two runs, two hits, two errors and two runners left on base.
The Brewers began the sixth-inning with back-to-back doubles by Corey Hart and Nyjer Morgan to cut the St Louis lead in half. But Jackson was able to prevent any further scoring - first, by striking out Prince Fielder with one out and the runner on third - for out number two. Then he got Casey McGehee on a fly ball to center to retire the side.
After working a scoreless seventh-inning, Jackson's night was over. The bullpen's night was just beginning. Reliever Arthur Rhodes got the first out in the eighth-inning, then turned the ball over to Jason Motte, who gave up a hit - but no runs - in his two-out stint.
Newly acquired reliever Marc Rzepczynski faced one batter in the bottom of the ninth - Prince Fielder - but the designated lefty specialist failed to get his man. Fielder walked.
LaRussa then brought in Fernando Salas to face Casey McGehee - who also walked. Betancourt was the next batter - who was up there bunting, trying to advance the runners to second and third. Instead, a hard charging Albert Pujols fielded the bunt and fired a strike to third base for a crucial force out of Fielder. The game ended when pinch hitter Mark Kotsay (replacing Hairston) grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
And yes, the Braves lost tonight - at home - to the Washington Nationals - who pounded out four home runs in a 9-2 Atlanta beat down. The fun was just beginning.