The Cardinals are a win away from returning to the National League Championship Series. They topped the Padres 6-2 at Busch Stadium on Thursday in Game 2 of their Division Series and the Cardinals got it done in a fashion reminiscent of Redbirds squads from the 1980’s. Their first four runs were driven in without a base hit..
David Eckstein’s grounder to first base in the third inning allowed Abraham Nunez to score just under the tag of Padres catcher Ramon Hernandez to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead. Later in the inning Albert Pujols walked with the bases loaded for the Cardinals’ second run of the game.
The Birds added two more runs in the fourth inning. Yadier Molina’s grounder to first base drove in Mark Grudzielanek, which also required a shifty slide at the plate to score. Eckstein stuck again in the fourth with a squeeze bunt, which plated Molina. Without an RBI base hit, the Cardinals had a 4-0 lead.
Reggie Sanders made a case for the series MVP, by driving in two more runs with a triple in the seventh inning. That gave him eight RBI’s in two games.
On the mound, Mark Mulder survived a scare and went on to get the win. In the second inning, Joe Randa scorched a line drive, which hit Mulder on the bicep of his throwing arm. Luckily for Mulder, it hit muscle and not a joint. He required treatment between innings, but still pitched. An RBI single to Xavier Nady in the seventh inning was the only run he allowed.
Mulder lasted 6 2/3 innings and allowed one run off eight hits and a walk. Like Chris Carpenter in the first game of the series, Mulder was the beneficiary of stellar defense. The Cardinals turned double plays in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings. On Tuesday the Cardinals had double plays.
The bullpen, which allowed five runs in three innings on Tuesday, was able to keep the game in order for St. Louis. Julian Tavarez hit Nady with the bases loaded in the eighth inning to give the Padres their second run. Randy Flores entered and struck out Mark Sweeney to end the late threat.
This was a turnaround from Flores’ performance in Game 1 on Tuesday. Flores allowed an eighth inning lead off homer to Eric Young and later gave up a single to Brian Giles before getting pulled with two outs.
In the ninth, Jason Isringhausen pitched a perfect ninth inning to secure the win.