Cheap Seats

Game 114: Cardinals 4, Phillies 1

Jake Westbrook walked the first batter he saw Saturday and that man came around to score.

But after spotting the Phillies that first inning run, he allowed only two more hits over the next 6 2/3 innings to lead the Cardinals to a 4-1 road win.

Westbrook struck out only three. But 18 of the 23 outs he recorded came from ground balls. And several of them were deftly fielded by Cardinals rookie Ryan Jackson who made his major league debut at second base.

The Redbirds were held scoreless under rainy skies for the first five innings and it looked like they were in danger of losing a 1-0 game shortened by weather.

But in the sixth Jon Jay led off with a single to short and Allen Craig hit a ball off the top of the wall in right field. Needing a sacrifice to tie the game and an outfield single to put the Birds ahead, Matt Holliday launched an opposite field homer off Phillies starter Cliff Lee and put the Cardinals ahead for good.

Craig, Holliday and Beltran hit consecutive singles in the top of the eighth to give the Redbirds and insurance run. Lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski got the last out of the bottom of the eighth and Jason Motte nailed down the ninth to put the Birds back to 10 games over .500 and five games behind the Reds who beat the Cubs.

Pittsburgh lost, however, and St. Louis was able to to pull within a game and a half of the Pirates.

Jackson was hitless in three at bats during his major league debut. But he looked comfortable at the plate and in the field. Jackson made a fielding error in the fourth inning. But he came back to make the play on the very next out and handled eight chances overall on the night. His only other blemish came on a double play attempt in the first.

Not used to playing second base, the natural shortstop got the force out at second on a grounder. But he didn't lead Furcal by enough and the St. Louis shortstop was trapped on the bag when the runner arrived at second to disrupt him.

After the game Holliday was interviewed on television and asked about his winning home run. His reply: "Jake pitched a great game for us tonight."

Don't know why so many people seem not to like Holliday. In addition to being a great producer, he's a super team player. How many other players would defer the credit when they hit the winning homer?

Cardinals Star of the Game: Westbrook.

Cardinals Play of the Game: Holliday's homer.

Lowlight: Shortstop Rafael Furcal was hitless in three at bats and his average continued to sink to the .263 mark.