It was a nail biter. But the Cardinals made it worth it to stay up late Monday, beating the Dodgers 3-2 in Los Angeles.
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And what was even better than that was staying up just a little bit longer to watch the Padres score their only runs of the night with two outs in the ninth inning to beat the Cubs 4-1 and hand the Redbirds a sixth game of padding to their NL Central lead.
The Cardinals were confounded by L.A. knuckle baller Charlie Haeger for most of the game. He pitched seven innings and allowed only five hits. But one of them was a timely two-run homer from Rick Ankiel and the another was a solo shot from Albert Pujols.
Ankiel said after the game that he approached his at bats against the Dodgers knuckleballer as if he was playing wiffle ball. He waited for the ball to get deep in the strike zone, tried to be selective and when he found something he liked, he let it rip.
The Cardinals bullpen threw all of four pitches in the ninth. The first came from Trever Miller, who got an out. Manny Ramirez over eagerly popped up the first pitch he saw and Ryan Franklin took two more tosses to get the third out.
Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel celebrates with catcher Yadier Molina after hitting a two-run homer Monday against the Dodgers. AP photo.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Chris Carpenter pitched eight strong innings, allowing only five hits and two runs. He struck out eight and walked one, an intentional pass of Manny Ramirez in the first inning.
Lowlight: The bad news is that the straw that stirs the drink, cleanup man and left fielder Matt Holliday, fouled a ball of the top of his foot in the eighth inning and had to leave the game. Hopefully it was for precautionary reasons. But the ball hit flush on the tip of his shoe, so it is certainly possible that he broke a toe.