SAN FRANCISCO (Ticker) -- The St. Louis Cardinals can only
hope that Game Three of their National League Championship
Series is a glimpse of things to come.
After dropping the first two games at home and playing the first
two innings of Game Three like a team put together earlier in
the day, the Cardinals regrouped and rallied for a crucial 5-4
triumph over the San Francisco Giants.
The Cardinals got back in the series by getting it together
against Giants starter Russ Ortiz (2-1), who had won his
previous eight starts. After a solo homer by Eli Marrero
snapped a sixth-inning tie, St. Louis got a stellar effort from
its bullpen to preserve the victory.
"I was able to make my pitches and he hit a harmless ground
ball," Kline said. "Our pen didn't want to give anything away
today. You're awfully jacked up in that situation, so it was
good for us all to shut them down."
"I'm seeing the ball the same, I'm just not getting at it,"
Sanders said. "I just have to start over again. Darn, I need a
blooper or something to get me going. I'm being too aggressive
up there and need to step back a bit. I'm pressing too much. I
need to start all over again."
The Cardinals have participated in six NL Championship Series
and are 6-0 in Game Threes. But they still face the daunting
task of becoming the first team to win an NLCS after dropping
the first two games at home.
Ortiz allowed four runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings with
three walks and three strikeouts.
"I just had a bad game at the wrong time," the righthander said.
"I felt fine out there. I was sharp in the first two innings.
But the last couple of innings, I didn't feel real sharp out
there. It was really about them getting timely hits in a timely
Jay Witasick (0-1) surrendered the solo homer to Marrero in the
sixth and was charged with the loss.
"Every pitch counted today and I couldn't get (Marrero),"
Witasick said. "I have to go after every hitter. This time, he
got the best of the deal. Anyone can take you deep at any
time, and it happened today. I know Eli. ... He's a lowball
hitter and he got my fastball. It was four-seamer. I'm not
going to second-guess anything I threw today."
Game Four is Sunday, with the Giants sending postseason ace
Livan Hernandez to the mound against fellow righthander Andy
Bonds was a factor yet again, hitting a three-run homer in the
fifth inning that erased a 4-1 deficit. He also walked three
times but popped up with the bases loaded and two outs in the
The Giants' slugger had just six RBI in his first 27 postseason
games but has nine in eight playoff contests this year.
"You always want to drive in runs, but in the playoffs it's a
different situation," Bonds said. "Everyone is anxious and
After Ortiz got J.D. Drew to fly out with two runners in scoring
position to end the opening inning, the Cardinals nearly came
apart in the bottom of the first.
Kenny Lofton reached on an error by shortstop Edgar Renteria and
was bunted over. Kent flied out and Bonds was walked on four
pitches. Santiago grounded to Renteria, who fired to second
baseman Fernando Vina. Vina was nowhere near the bag and
Santiago beat the relay to first to load the bases.
Finley escaped the inning when Sanders popped to shallow center
- a flyout complicated by Vina, who nearly collided with center
fielder Jim Edmonds.
The Cardinals' adventures continued in the second when J.T. Snow
and David Bell singled. Ortiz dropped down a bunt that Finley
did not move on, loading the bases with none out.
Lofton bounced into a forceout at the plate, but Aurilia made it
1-0 with a line drive to center field. On Edmonds' throw into
the infield, no one was at second base to field the ball. Kent
singled, but Ortiz had to hold at third, setting the stage for
Bonds, who popped to right on another fly ball complicated by
"After that first inning, we all came in and said, `Let's
tighten it up a bit, guys, we're not sloppy players,'" Finley
said. "There's just so much adrenaline flowing, sometimes
everything gets too fired up. I wouldn't want us to play that
way every game."
"It was a strange game defensively," Vina admitted. "We were
fortunate not to get in a huge hole, especially in the first
inning. I thought Edgar was throwing to first with two out, so
I didn't cover the bag. You always cover the bag, I should have
been there. You get so excited in the playoffs, sometimes
those things happen."
Finley reached on a wild third strike to open the third and Vina
doubled. Renteria knotted the contest with a sacrifice fly and
Edmonds put the Cardinals ahead with a grounder to shortstop.
St. Louis had a chance to pad the lead, but Tino Martinez, who
is 1-for-22 in the postseason, left two aboard.
Mike Matheny, who had not homered since April, hit a solo shot
in the fourth to extend the Cardinals' lead to 3-1. Edmonds
homered in the fourth, but Finley struggled in the fifth.
Aurilia drew a leadoff walk, Kent singled and Bonds drilled a
1-0 pitch over the right field wall to tie it.
"That homer fired up the dugout a little," Bonds said.
Witasick started the sixth and Marrero launched his second pitch
over the left field wall for a 5-4 lead.
Aurilia opened the seventh with a double and, one out later,
Bonds was intentionally walked. Santiago again beat out an
infield hit to load the bases, but Veres struck out Sanders on
four pitches and Kline got Snow to bounce to second.
After White got Aurilia to ground out with a runner at second to
end the eighth, Isringhausen pitched carefully to Bonds in the
ninth but cruised otherwise.
"One or two different pitches and we could have been down by
four or five runs," Finley said. "Our bullpen just came up
huge. After any of us got in trouble, we made the right