ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- By the time the St. Louis Cardinals got
into the game, they nearly were out of it.
Barry Bonds' two-run triple highlighted a four-run second inning
as the San Francisco Giants jumped on Matt Morris early and
posted a 9-6 triumph over the Cardinals in Game One of the
best-of-seven National League Championship Series.
After St. Louis seemed to sleepwalk through four innings, an
inside pitch from Cardinals reliever Mike Crudale to Kenny
Lofton seemed to energize the home team and its fans.
Lofton, who had homered in the third, was buzzed by a tight
fastball from Crudale and exchanged words with catcher Mike
Matheny. The benches emptied and managers Dusty Baker and Tony
La Russa had a heated discussion.
"I didn't overreact," Lofton said. "First pitch after the guy
hits a home run and the next time they throw inside, you look at
that. ... I think when people are upset, they do things out of
the ordinary and, you know, we were kicking their butts at the
time and they just had to do something to try to upset me or
(tick) me off."
"I didn't think he overreacted at all," Baker added. "What are
you going to do when a guy throws the ball up around your head?"
Matheny said it was just a matter of strategy.
"We've got to pitch inside, we're going to pitch inside all
series long," he explained. "I guess he thought that was a
little too close, and he has that freedom to respond however he
But the emotion came too late for the Cardinals, who trailed 5-0
and 7-1. Morris, St. Louis' unquestioned ace, was the reason
for the early deficit, getting hammered for seven runs and 10
hits in 4 1/3 innings.
After besting likely Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson in Game
One of the Division Series with Arizona, Morris (1-1) was
utterly ineffective, walking four and surrendering a pair of
"He wasn't sharp," La Russa said. "Location. His stuff was
good, he just made a lot of location mistakes, and they are a
good club and made him pay."
"My ball was just up," Morris said. "Everything, every pitch
that was hit was up in the zone, over the plate. I mean, some
pitches that should be hit. ... The bottom line, I put our team
in a bad hole."
Giants starter Kirk Rueter (1-1) wasn't sharp, either, allowing
five runs and nine hits in five innings. He also served up two
home runs but was backed by a stellar effort from his bullpen.
Felix Rodriguez allowed a hit over two scoreless innings and Tim
Worrell surrendered a two-out solo homer in the eighth. With
the Giants holding a three-run lead, Baker turned to closer Robb
Nen, who worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth to notch his
third save of the postseason.
"They've got a great lineup," Rueter said. "I'm just glad our
guys jumped out early. I probably fell into a little bit of a
trap where I didn't want to walk guys when we've got a big lead.
I don't know if this is a very good team to keep throwing
strikes to and just letting them hit it. They hit a couple
balls out, but we had a big enough lead and the bullpen came in
and did a great job."
Coming off his first postseason series win, Bonds contributed to
a big night by the middle of the San Francisco order, going
1-for-2 with three walks, two runs scored and two RBI. Jeff
Kent, Bonds and Benito Santiago combined for six hits, six RBI
and four runs scored.
Game Two is Thursday, with the Cardinals giving the ball to
injury-plagued righthander Woody Williams, who did not pitch in
the NL Division Series. He will be opposed by Jason Schmidt.
"We are up 1-0," Baker said. "We still have potentially six
games to go and hopefully, we can get to four before they get to
The last nine teams that have won Game One of the NLCS have gone
on to the World Series.
"It doesn't mean anything to me, actually," Baker said. "I
mean, I've been on some World Series teams that won the first
two games and ended up losing four in a row. So you've got to
win one before you can win two, and then you win two and then
three and then four. You've got to take them one win at a time,
just like a countdown to the finish line. We haven't won
The Giants got on Morris from the start. Lofton opened the
contest with a walk and was bunted over. After a groundout by
Kent, Morris pitched around Bonds, but the strategy backfired
when Santiago beat out a squib down the third base line for a
"I just swung on top of the ball," Santiago said. "And anything
you can do to get the RBI in, that's a plus."
The Cardinals had a chance to answer in the bottom of the first,
loading the bases with two outs. But Tino Martinez, who went
0-for-11 in the Division Series, flied out to center. Martinez
was 1-for-4 and left five runners on.
"If Tino has the uniform on, then he's one of our keys," La
Russa said. "That comment is going to be the same for Fernando
(Vina). ... Whoever plays for us, they are keys. There's no
extra pressure on Tino."
"This team has bounced back from losses all year," Martinez
said. "We never let one loss affect another one. These guys
know it's one game at a time and we'll come back tomorrow and
play a good game."
Morris appeared to regain his form in the second, striking out
the first two batters. But Lofton singled and stole second and
Rich Aurilia singled for a 2-0 lead. Kent followed with a base
hit up the middle and Bonds hit a line drive to the right-center
field gap that went for a triple when center fielder Jim
Santiago followed Bonds' triple with a single to right.
St. Louis got on the board in the bottom of the second, drawing
within 5-1 on an RBI groundout by Vina.
Lofton homered to right with two outs in the third and admired
it a bit in the batter's box. He is 9-for-24 with eight runs
scored this postseason.
"Kenny is a big-time player, big-game player," Baker said.
"He's been in the playoffs many, many times and he thrives on
being that catalyst. That's why we got Kenny when he did. We
got him as soon as possible. Kenny has been great for us, both
offensively and defensively."
Morris escaped a jam in the fourth but allowed a homer to David
Bell in the fifth. Crudale came on and retired Rueter before
firing a pitch up and in to Lofton, who took umbrage.
After peace was restored and the crowd got back in the game, St.
Louis got to Rueter for a pair of runs in the fifth as Edmonds
doubled with two outs and Albert Pujols lofted a 1-0 pitch over
the wall in center field to get the Cardinals within 7-3.
Crudale gave up a costly two-run homer to Santiago in the sixth.
The blast proved key when Miguel Cairo, filling in for injured
third baseman Scott Rolen, tied a postseason record with his
eighth straight hit - a two-run homer to left.