NLCS Game 3: Cardinals jump on Gallardo early in 4-3 victory
ST. LOUIS – Game 3 of the National League Division Series was supposed to be a battle of aces, the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter and the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo.
The game was a pitchers' duel all right, but not in the way most would expect as four-run first inning was all the Cardinals needed to defeat the Brewers, 4-3, Wednesday night in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium.
"Both offenses noticed that the starters weren't sharp early," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "They came out and had some fun."
Rafael Furcal singled to open the Cardinals' first. John Jay and Albert Pujols followed with back-to-back RBI singles and Gallardo then issued consecutive walks to Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, loading the bases for Yadier Molina.
He grounded into a double play but Holliday was still able to score, and the Cardinals went up, 3-0. Gallardo responded by giving up a double to Freese, making it 4-0 and then intentionally walked Nick Punto before getting Carpenter to ground out, ending the inning.
"I think he lost his command there," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Maybe it was because he was throwing some pretty good pitches and they were hitting, I don't know. (He) may have started to try to paint too much, but his command did get off there."
The Brewers cut the lead in half in the second. Carpenter allowed three straight singles, to Rickie Weeks, Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Yuniesky Betancourt. They added one more in the third, on a leadoff homer by Mark Kotsay.
By that point, both starters were suffering from high pitch counts and left the game after five innings. Gallardo took the loss, his first of the postseason, giving up four runs on eight hits with five walks, two strike outs and three wild pitches.
"We got him before he got sharp," La Russa said. "But he's the real deal and he showed it."
Carpenter was the winner, allowing three runs on six hits with three walks, three strikeouts and a home run.
"It was a battle all night long," Carpenter said. "My stuff was OK but these guys worked me hard. They put great at-bats together ... they'd take close pitches, take touch pitches and get themselves back in counts.
"But that's what it's all about in the the postseason. Our bullpen did a phenomenal job to finish it out and we win. That's what's important."
Neither bullpen allowed any further damage. Four Cardinals pitchers combined to retire the Brewers, in order, over the final four innings. Milwaukee's relievers put three on, but kept the Cardinals off the board.
"When you see 96 to 99 coming out of there with nice sliders, I think it's really good," Roenicke said.
The Brewers had a chance to jump on Carpenter early. Kotsay, starting in center field over both Nyjer Morgan and Carlos Gomez, drew a one-out walk and advanced to second when Ryan Braun was hit by a pitch. He was doubled up, though, when he botched a slide getting back to the bag on Prince Fielder's line out to center, ending the inning.
"It's a tough read," Roenicke said. "(He) got off probably a little farther than he would have wanted to."
Milwaukee had another chance, with two on and two out in the fifth, but Rickie Weeks struck out swinging to end the threat. The next 12 Brewers batters were retired in order, with Casey McGehee's strikeout ending it.
The Cardinals have won two straight and hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, which resumes Thursday night in St. Louis. First pitch is at 7 p.m.
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