photo: Giovanny Gallegos via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
Twice, St. Louis Cardinals pitching could not hold a four-run lead before falling to the San Diego Padres 11-9, and missing the chance to sweep their Wild Card Series Thursday evening at Petco Park. Cardinals relievers served up five long balls as part of nine earned runs allowed in 4 2/3 innings. Kolten Wong plated four for St. Louis in its losing effort.
The second game of the best-of-three Wild Card Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Padres brought a slugfest that ended poorly for St. Louis. After being unable to hold two different four-run leads and unable to complete the two-game sweep, the Cardinals face potential elimination on Friday in their second and final chance to advance to the Division Series.
Veteran righty Adam Wainwright made Thursday’s start for the Redbirds. The first three innings went well as his offense gave him a 4-0 lead. However, the wheels came off his bus in the home fourth.
Wainwright yielded consecutive singles to Eric Hosmer, Tommy Pham, and Mitch Moreland. With the bases juiced, Wil Myers grounded into a force out at third base to bring the first Padres run home. With one out and runners on first and second, a wild pitch by Wainwright gave San Diego their second run of the inning.
After issuing a walk to Austin Nola, Wainwright came out of the game. Austin Gomber walked his first man, no. 9 hitter Jake Cronenworth, but recovered to strike out Trent Grisham and Fernando Tatis Jr. to get out of the jam.
Gomber returned to pitch the fifth. A throwing error by shortstop Paul DeJong put Manny Machado on first. Gomber induced a double play by Eric Hosmer to eliminate the threat, but then gave up singles to Tommy Pham and pinch hitter Jurickson Profar. Gomber was removed and replaced by Ryan Helsley, who fanned Wil Myers to end the threat.
The Cardinals gave themselves breathing room by adding two runs in the top of the sixth to increase the lead to 6-2, but the jubilation and their second four-run lead were both short lived. Genesis Cabrera walked Nola and Cronenworth to open the home sixth. After fanning Grisham, Cabrera departed in favor of Giovanny Gallegos. The recipient of the “game ball” after Game 1 went from hero to goat by giving up back-to-back home runs to Tatis Jr. (three runs) and Hosmer, which tied the score at 6-6. After Pham doubled, Gallegos struck out Profar to end the inning.
Things went from bad to worse in the seventh and eighth as Daniel Ponce de Leon yielded three runs on Hosmer’s second solo shot and a two-run blast by Tatis Jr. in the seventh. Kodi Whitley surrendered a two-run home run in the eighth to Myers with one of Tyler Webb’s runners aboard. Ponce de Leon took the loss.
Overall, the pen yielded nine runs, all earned, in 4 2/3 innings. The final five Cardinals relievers of the night were all scored upon, giving up five home runs.
St. Louis’ offense was plentiful but could not keep pace with the powerful Padres attack. Tommy Edman singled to center in the first and Yadier Molina later singled to drive him home to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead. Matt Carpenter doubled to lead off the second and Harrison Bader singled to center to plate Carpenter. Kolten Wong then thumped a two-run home run to right field for the 4-0 cushion.
The Redbirds did not add on until the sixth inning. Paul DeJong and Carpenter walked to begin the frame. Dexter Fowler’s line drive double to right field scored DeJong. Wong plated Carpenter on a ground out to the pitcher.
After the Padres scored seven in the sixth and seventh, the Cardinals attempted to rally in the final two innings. In the eighth, Carpenter was hit by a pitch and Fowler followed with a single. Bader and Wong hit sac flies to bring the Cardinals to within one run, 9-8. However, the long ball subsequently yielded by Whitley negated this rally.
In the ninth, the final Cardinals rally began with a solo home run by Paul Goldschmidt. With the lead down to 11-9, Dylan Carlson drew a walk and Molina singled. The attempt ended there as DeJong popped out, Carpenter struck out, and Fowler grounded out against former Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.
With his two hits Thursday night, Molina racked up yet another career milestone, becoming just the fifth player in MLB history to collect 100 hits in the post-season. It occurred in the catcher’s National League-record 100th playoff contest.
Wong drove in four runs and Bader plated two. Both of Goldschmidt’s hits went for extra bases, a double and a home run. Carpenter scored three times. However, as a team, the Cardinals offense’s ongoing problem bringing runners in continued as the team was just 4-for-18 with runners in scoring position. Even so, scoring nine runs should be enough to win.
The Cardinals must now win on Friday to advance to the Division Series. St. Louis will have Jack Flaherty on the mound for that crucial, must-win game. San Diego’s starter remains unlisted, but their bullpen is stretched and their best starters, Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet, are injured and not on the roster.
Friday’s game: at Padres at 6:08 p.m. Jack Flaherty (0-0, 0.00) vs. TBA. ESPN/ESPN Radio/KMOX
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