for this game

Young frustrates Cards as Padres stave off elimination

Oct 7, 2006 - 9:12 PM ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- Chris Young was not bowled over by the sea of red.

Making his first playoff appearance, Young pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings as the San Diego Padres stayed alive in the National League Division Series with a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Padres manager Bruce Bochy called on Young, a 6-10 righthander, to shut down the Cardinals, who had a chance to complete a three-game sweep of the series in front of their home fans.

Facing a sellout crowd clad in red with his team on the brink of elimination, Young was not even slightly intimidated by the surroundings. He yielded just four hits, struck out nine and completely silenced the middle of the Cardinals' batting order - Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen and Juan Encarnacion. The four combined to go hitless in 15 at-bats.

"I just tried to keep them off-balance," Young said. "They have a real good lineup but I had good stuff today."

The lone hits off Young (1-0) were a pair of singles by David Eckstein and a single and a double by Ronnie Belliard.

"(Young) did a good job mixing it up," Eckstein said. "Every once in a while, he'd ramp up on a fastball, then he'd throw one about 88, then mixing in his slider and changeup. You think you see him pretty good then all of a sudden the ball is by you."

Bochy could not have had a better pitcher at his disposal. Young was 6-0 with a 2.41 ERA on the road this season.

"We have all the confidence in the world in this kid," Bochy said. "He's had a great year for us and he continued today with the way he threw the ball. Chris went out there and did what we needed. He put zeroes on the board."

The Padres had scored a total of one run in losing the first two games of the best-of-five series at home. They had a batting average of .164 and were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

But one three-run inning was all the Padres needed to get their first win of the series and force Game Four, which will be played here on Sunday.

"(Young) gave us the game we needed today," San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "He gave us the momentum we needed and hopefully we can run with that."

Russell Branyan provided the big hit in the fourth inning with a two-run double off Jeff Suppan (0-1).

Gonzalez singled with one out and Mike Cameron walked before Branyan doubled into the right field corner. Branyan, who was 1-for-9 in the series before his hit, raced to third when Belliard hesitated before making a relay throw.

"(Suppan) surprised me with a 1-1 fastball (that) he painted inside corner on me," Branyan said. "I had to collect my thoughts because he surprised me with that pitch. Then he went back off-speed and I was able to get a changeup down in the zone, a 3-2 pitch, and keep it fair."

"With Branyan (I threw) a changeup, cut it, and he was able to put the bat head on the ball," said Suppan, who lasted just 4 1/3 innings.

Geoff Blum followed with a sacrifice fly to cap the three-run inning.

Alan Embree replaced Young after Belliard doubled with two outs in the seventh and struck out pinch hitter Scott Spiezio to end the inning.

Pinch hitter So Taguchi led off the eighth inning with a home run off Padres reliever Scott Linebrink. It was the first at-bat of the series for Taguchi, who hit just two homers in 316 at-bats this season.

But Linebrink ended the inning by getting Pujols on a double-play grounder.

Trevor Hoffman, the all-time saves leader, retired the side in the ninth for his fourth career postseason save.

"We still feel like we're in this thing," Hoffman said. "A lot of people have written us off. It's the old cliche 'one game at a time.' That's the approach we're taking."

The Padres had lost eight straight playoff games against St. Louis, including a sweep in last year's NLDS. The Cardinals never trailed in the 2005 series - or this one - before Branyan's hit.

St. Louis sends ace Chris Carpenter, the Game One winner, to the mound in Game Four. The Padres counter with former Cardinal Woody Williams on Sunday.

Game Five, if necessary, will be Monday in San Diego.

Saturday's contest looked like it would be another exercise in frustration for the Padres, who failed to score after putting runners on second and third with none out in the first inning.

Brian Giles was retired on a comebacker and Mike Piazza hit a grounder to first which Pujols fielded and threw to the plate to get Dave Roberts. Piazza was then picked off first base by catcher Yadier Molina to end the frame.

The Padres left 14 on base for the game and went 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position, leaving them 1-for-25 in the series. Fortunately, Branyan's hit was all they needed to win Game Three.

"We just kept putting runners on base," said Branyan, who was acquired from Tampa Bay on August 24. "Fourteen runners on base, you score three runs, you do the math. You don't really want that type of percentage, but we'll take it in a victory."

Pujols, who was 5-for-8 with a home run and three RBI in the first two games, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. The second strikeout came with runners on first and second and one out in the sixth inning.

Then with the crowd of 46,364 chanting "MVP, MVP," Pujols grounded into a double play in the eighth after Linebrink walked rookie Chris Duncan.

"We just didn't get that many opportunities," Pujols said. "And when we got our opportunities, we didn't come through."

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!