Many Cardinals fans I've heard from since the events that took place in Cincinnati said they feared the Redbirds would fall flat with a letdown after the emotionally charged series.
But the Birds showed no signs of a flop Friday night, playing a solid game as they beat the Cubs 6-3 on their home turf.
Jake Westbrook stumbled a little bit in the first inning when he allowed two runs on four consecutive hits. But he held the Cubs two runs in the first and then shut them out for the next five innings to notch his first National League win. Westbrook also walked and hit a ground rule double to help the offense. He said during his post game interview that his two bagger was the second time he had been on second base in his career and Friday was the first time the longtime American Leaguer's career that he reached third as a pro.
Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan backhands a ground ball off the bat of Blake DeWitt in the third inning Friday against the Cubs. AP photo.
The big guns in the middle of the lineup earned their hefty paychecks. Albert Pujols homered in the bottom of the first to halve the Cardinals' deficit and later collected a pair of singles. He scored three times and had one RBI as he raised his batting average to .314. Matt Holliday was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, a run scored and an RBI. He's hitting .438 during an eight-game hitting streak.
Yadier Molina, who got a lengthy and enthusiastic standing ovation when he came to the plate for the first time Friday in response to his standing up to Reds loudmouth Brandon Phillips during the Cincinnati series. He was 1-for-2 on the night with a pair of sacrifice flies. Colby Rasmus walked four times.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Pujols
Cardinals Play of the Game: I can't remember who hit the ball, but Colby Rasmus was playing up the middle and had to go deep in the hole to his right to field a grounder. He came up firing against his momentum and nipped the runner at first base by half a step. It may have been his best play at short this season.
Lowlight: Florida ace Josh Johnson was unable to handle the Reds, allowing Cincinnati to keep pace with the Cardinals by winning. But the good news is that the 10 hits and six runs Johnson allowed ballooned his ERA from 1.97 to 2.27... And that strengthens Cardinals hurler Adam Wainwright's Cy Young case by giving him the lowest ERA in the NL, 1.97.
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