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Padres Won't Go Quietly

Despite a lack of clutch hitting, they defeat the Cardinals, 3-1, and stay alive in their NL Division Series. Young pitches scoreless ball into the seventh inning.

October 08, 2006|Paul Sullivan | Chicago Tribune

ST. LOUIS — The rules clearly stipulate that the National League must send a representative to the World Series.

If either San Diego or St. Louis finds its way to the promised land, it could be a painful Series to watch.

San Diego stayed alive in the division series on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over the Cardinals, despite stranding 14 runners and going one for 15 with runners in scoring position.

The Padres trail, 2-1, in the best-of-five series, with former Cardinals right-hander Woody Williams facing Chris Carpenter in Game 4 today.

Chris Young, a 6-foot-10 right-hander, shut out St. Louis on four hits into the seventh inning, and Trevor Hoffman finished it off with a perfect ninth.

"We still feel like we're in this thing," Hoffman said. "A lot of people have written us off, but it's the old cliche, 'one game at a time.' That's kind of the approach we've taken."

The victory was the first for the Padres over St. Louis in nine postseason games dating to 1996. They are one for 25 with runners in scoring position and are batting .211 in this series with no home runs.

With the exception of Albert Pujols, who was hitless in four at-bats, the series looks like a showdown of the Not Ready For Prime Time Players, which may be why all of their games have been relegated to daylight, and why Game 3 was on ESPN2.

"Hopefully we can get on ESPN1" today, center fielder Mike Cameron said with a wink, knowing there's no such channel.

Young was 6-0 on the road during the regular season with a 2.41 earned-run average, and he hadn't lost a road game in his previous 24 starts, dating to June 25, 2005, when he played for Texas. Young's moment of truth came in the sixth, facing Pujols with two on and one out with a 3-0 lead.

"I got a little tingle in my body," Cameron said. "The good thing about it was the shadows started to creep in a little bit. It's a little bit tougher to see late in the game. We made him get a keen look at the baseball, and maybe throw him off just a little bit, for one time."

Young struck out Pujols on a high-and-outside fastball, taking the last breath out of a subdued crowd at Busch Stadium.

"I didn't want to give in to him and give him a pitch to hit over the plate," Young said. "If I ended up walking him, then I was going to take my chances pitching out of a bases-loaded jam there. Fortunately, things worked out."

Jim Edmonds followed with a long drive to the wall in left, but Dave Roberts snagged it before running into the fence.

"When we got the opportunity, we didn't come through," Pujols said.

The Padres started out on the wrong foot after Chris Duncan's error on a sinking liner off the bat of Todd Walker put runners on second and third with none out in the first. But Brian Giles grounded back to Jeff Suppan for the first out, Pujols threw out Roberts at the plate on Mike Piazza's grounder and catcher Yadier Molina picked Piazza off first to end the inning.

The pickoff energized a crowd of 46,634 that sensed a sweep. But that's when Young hit the mute button.

"They were a little rowdy there for a minute or two," Cameron said. "But we got some key hits and did a good job. That's the way to take the crowd out of it, do the job you can do."

The Padres scored three in the fourth on Russell Branyan's two-run double and Geoff Blum's sacrifice fly. It wasn't much, but at least the Padres broke their postseason drought against the Cardinals.

"No getting around it," Padres Manager Bruce Bochy said. "They've had their way with us. We're listening to 'Who's your Padre?' That's not fun to hear.... But to finally break through and get a win, that's huge for us."

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