Oswalt, Burke even series with 4-1 win.
This is how we win games: By pitching great and scratching runs together. That's just what Oswalt and Chris Burke did tonight as the Astros evened the series at one game apiece.
Roy was fantastic: five hits -- including a Pujols solo homer -- over seven innings. He was at his best when we most needed him. He got Jim Edmonds to end threats in the fifth and seventh innings, and kept his composure even when he was squeezed by home plate umpire Greg Gibson.
Chris Burke sparked our offense in his first career postseason start. He tripled to right-center in the second inning, barely beating a relay throw from Grudzielanek. He trotted home when Yadier Molina mishandled a pitch to Oswalt as Ausmus was stealing second.
Ausmus led off the fifth with a double and went to third on a perfect sac bunt by Oswalt... even as the Cardinals were employing the wheel play. (Both Pujols and Nunez were charging, so Oswalt had to spot his bunt toward the pitcher). Ausmus then came home on a Biggio groundout.
Pujols' homer in the sixth made it a one-run game, but we tacked on a couple runs in the eighth off the phone-punching Julian Tavarez. Berkman doubled, but was still there after two groundouts by Ensberg and Lane (who went a combined 0-for-8 with six left on base). But Burke came through again, singling to left just over an outstretched Eckstein. Then Everett got a hold of one, driving a pitch to deep left. Sanders tripped up on the warning track and fell awkwardly, losing the ball and injuring his back and head. Burke scored his second run of the game and the 4-1 lead was more than enough for Lidge to slam the door.
Watching us push across all those runs made up for last night's ineptitude at the plate w/RISP. Tonight's game started out that way as well: Biggio and Taveras got one in the first, but Berkman K'd and Ensberg GIDP'd. Ugly stuff. Ensberg had a real off day today. He did put a drive into a ball in the sixth, but Edmonds made a terrific, if not gratuitous, diving catch. Other than that, he didn't see the ball well at all. His GIDP in the first was killer. And he threw the ball into the dugout after a nice diving stop. Maybe he needs to shave the beard.
Burke reminded us why we're in the postseason to begin with: Aggressive Patience. That sounds weird, but it's what you need to have to score runs against tough pitchers. If Burke doesn't go for third on his hit in the second, we don't score that first run. And if he doesn't stay patient at the plate in the eighth -- something Ensberg and Lane could learn from -- we wouldn't have scored those insurance runs and St. Louis would still have been in the game against Lidge.
Wow. A road win. That's rare. I really feel that we can win this series at home. But it's one game at a time, and right now we have to feel good about a split in St. Louis. And about Clemens starting Game Three.
While the Cardinals and Astros fly to Houston, Jack and I will be flying to San Fran to participate in our uncle's birthday triathalon bash. It's starting around 3 p.m. EDT Saturday, so we'll have extra incentive to swim/run/bike as fast as possible.