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Lack of clutch hitting dooms Cardinals again

Posted: Monday October 25, 2004 12:15AM; Updated: Monday October 25, 2004 12:51AM
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  Larry Walker
After a 4-for-5 effort in Game 1, Larry Walker has held hitless in four at-bats in Game 2.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

BOSTON (AP) -- The National League's best offense is off to a feeble start in the World Series, and the St. Louis Cardinals' chances are sagging along with it.

A lineup that featured three MVP candidates in Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds was hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position Sunday night, failing to capitalize on the second straight four-error game by the Boston Red Sox defense.

"We hit some balls right at guys, and when they needed to make pitches, they did," Edmonds said. "They took advantage of their situation and we didn't."

This after stranding nine runners, four each by Pujols and Rolen, in an 11-9 loss in Saturday night's opener.

The result: The Cardinals are in a 2-0 hole as the best-of-seven series moves to St. Louis, and history is against them. Of 33 teams who dropped the first two games on the road, only five have rebounded to win the championship.

"That is tough," No. 6 hitter Reggie Sanders said. "We've been able to capitalize on situations like that. But we're going home, and we're ready to be home."

They're 6-0 at home in the postseason, and they have to hope that the familiar surroundings will rejuvenate their offense.

"We're tough mentally. We're not down at all," Sanders said. "I think the most important thing for us is to continue to play good, solid baseball, and we're doing that, and things will turn around."

The Cardinals were unable to mount any sustained rallies in the first two games.

Larry Walker was 4-for-5 Saturday night with a home, single and double, but there wasn't enough support.

Pujols was 3-for-4 with two doubles and scored a run in Game 2, but Rolen and Edmonds were 0-for-7 and the top six St. Louis hitters were a combined 3-for-21. In two games, Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds were 4-for-23.

"It's more frustrating because it's something that we can control," manager Tony La Russa said. "I thought we had a bunch of terrific at-bats and we did enough offensively to get more than two runs."

The Cardinals have missed their regular leadoff hitter, Tony Womack, dropped to seventh in the order because of concerns about a balky lower back.

Edgar Renteria had two hits in Game 1 but was 0-for-3 Sunday and is clearly more comfortable as the No. 6 hitter.

The Cardinals also couldn't take advantage of having a designated hitter in Boston's Fenway Park, since their top power threat off the bench is John Mabry, who hit only 13 homers.

"I just agree with what the Red Sox have said: It changes their club," La Russa said. "We're used to playing without it. Whatever it does to them, we'll see."

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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