PHOENIX (Ticker) -- After getting knocked down by the first half of a vaunted 1-2 pitching punch in the series opener, the St. Louis Cardinals got off the canvas and dealt the Arizona Diamondbacks' postseason hopes a potentially devastating blow.
Woody Williams continued his torrid pitching with seven-plus superb innings -- outdueling a shaky Randy Johnson -- as the Cardinals posted a 4-1 triumph over the Diamondbacks and evened their National League Division Series at one game apiece.
Williams (1-0) was masterful as he continued to pay dividends for St. Louis, which acquired him from the San Diego Padres on August 2. He went 7-1 down the stretch, and all he did Wednesday was defeat a future Hall of Famer with his team down one game to none.
"Randy Johnson or whoever, it just feels like a dream come true to pitch in a postseason game," Williams said. "I haven't accomplished a whole lot (in my career), but this is the thing that has meant the most to me."
"We were very aware of Randy Johnson," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa added. "I mean, you know you are going to have a tough day at the ballpark. ... But we knew the guy who was going to take the mound for us. He's got no fear and he's a dead game competitor. Based on what we've seen for two months, we thought he would give us a chance to win."
The 35-year-old Williams allowed four hits and a walk and left with a 3-0 lead. He tied a season high with nine strikeouts and retired 11 of the first 12 batters as St. Louis built a 3-0 lead.
"I think the main thing for me the last six weeks or so is just control and being able to spot my fastball," Williams said. "I consider myself a fastball pitcher, believe it or not. I don't have the radar readings like most of these guys, but everything I do goes off my fastball."
Steve Kline recorded the final six outs and notched the save in his first career postseason appearance.
Pujols' first career postseason hit came off Johnson, whose major league-record posteason losing streak was extended to seven games. Johnson (0-1) was not terrible, allowing three runs and six hits in eight innings. He walked two and struck out nine but put his club in an early hole from which it never escaped.
"My psyche is not hurt," Johnson said. "It's obviously upsetting that we lost. But I'm going to give a lot of credit to Woody Williams, he pitched an outstanding game. ... Woody Williams pitched better. He shut our offense down and I just didn't. If someone is to blame, I guess I am."
"Today we didn't score a run until he was out of the game," Arizona manager Bob Brenly said. "If you don't score, you can't win. I think it's unfair to point at that record and infer that somehow it's all Randy's doing. He has pitched well enough in the majority of his postseason games to win those games if we score any runs for him."
The series shifts to St. Louis for Game Three, where the Cardinals will send 16-game winner Darryl Kile to the mound. Arizona was planning to counter with Miguel Batista, but Brenly used the righthander in the ninth inning Wednesday.
Brenly said Batista still will get the ball Friday for Game Three.
"Today was his normal throwing day," Brenly explained. "He threw only eight pitches, so he is good to go on Friday."
Lefthanded-hitting Fernando Vina set an early tone with a base hit off Johnson to start the game. Placido Polanco grounded into a double play, but Edgar Renteria walked on a full count and Pujols lofted another 3-2 pitch just over the wall in the right-field corner for a 2-0 lead.
"I just try to do the best I can to help the team like I have all year," Pujols said. "Nothing has changed, I'm doing the best I can."
"He's gotten so many clutch hits," La Russa added. "I would hate to disrepect some of the other huge hits that got us here, but this was a good one."
Williams helped himself by battling Johnson to open the third. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Williams lined a double to center field and took third on a bunt by Vina. Polanco followed with a long fly ball for a 3-0 cushion.
Williams did not allow a hit until two outs in the fourth and through six innings had surrendered just two singles and a walk.
Mark Grace singled with one out in the seventh, but Williams got the next two batters and came out to start the eighth. Pinch hitter Craig Counsell opened the inning with a single and La Russa turned to Kline.
Pinch hitter Greg Colbrunn singled to right and, in a questionable move, leadoff hitter Tony Womack sacrificed on a 1-0 pitch. Danny Bautista laced a 3-2 pitch to third, but Polanco made the play as Counsell scored. Kline retired Most Valuable Player candidate Luis Gonzalez on a grounder to first.
"I put the bunt sign on right there," Brenly admitted. "I just felt at that point in the ballgame if we could score a couple of runs and turn it into a one-run ballgame in the ninth inning that we had a chance to win."
"I didn't think that guy was going to swing at the first pitch," Kline said. "Colbrunn hits me pretty well, then I fell back in a comfort zone. They took Finley out, who hits me pretty well. If they get one run in that inning, big deal. The key was to get three outs that inning."
Gonzalez, who hit .325 with 57 homers and 142 RBI during the season, is 0-for-8 in the series. Arizona is 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position in the first two games.
"We're OK," Gonzalez said. "We just left a lot of opportunities on base. (Williams) had pinpoint control. Where Marrero was setting up, that's where he was hitting. They're pitching me tough. I just got to make adjustments. I'm not going to worry about it. I know I don't have any hits in this series.
"You want to pick up runners in scoring position, but you're not going to do it every time. I'm not going to start panicking now, I played 162 games in the season. I know my teammates are counting on me."
Arizona hurt itself with some poor decision-making in the ninth. Mike Morgan took over for Johnson and walked Jim Edmonds. Craig Paquette reached on an infield single and Brenly turned to lefthander Greg Swindell.
J.D. Drew squibbed a ball back to the mound, but Swindell opted to get the forceout at second. Brenly went to Batista and his thought process was no better. Batista got pinch hitter Kerry Robinson to bounce back to the mound and had Edmonds trapped off third base. But he fired late to first and Edmonds raced home for a 4-1 lead.
"I didn't have a good grip on the ball," Batista said. "I didn't want to throw it away or throw it into center field. I tried to throw it to first after I checked the runner at third. I didn't have a chance at second after I bobbled it, so I just threw it to first, but Mark (Grace) was off the bag."
Kline tossed a perfect ninth with the help of a diving catch by Edmonds in center field.