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Redbirds' bats silenced in Game 310/26/2004 11:53 PM ET
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Never mind the little things -- though they've been a problem. It was the big things that tripped up the Cardinals in Game 3 of the World Series on Tuesday night. Jeff Suppan was unable to hold down the Majors' most prolific offense, and the National League's best lineup couldn't touch Pedro Martinez.
As a result, the Cards lost, 4-1, to the Red Sox at Busch Stadium, and they're now in a 3-0 World Series hole. They are one loss away from the end of an amazing season, though Boston itself proved in the AL Championship Series that a 3-0 hole is not necessarily a death sentence.
St. Louis had won its first six home games of the postseason before falling to Martinez and the rolling Red Sox. Boston has won seven consecutive games since falling behind the Yankees, 3-0, in the ALCS. Perhaps more than anything, that provides hope.
However, unless St. Louis' offense gets its act together, the Redbirds will have a hard time extending this series very long. Martinez held what was a dominant regular-season offense scoreless on three hits over seven innings. He struck out six and walked two, needing 98 pitches to complete his assignment.
St. Louis hitters have gone 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position over the past two games, scoring a total of three runs. Against Boston's aces, Curt Schilling and Martinez, they've managed one run in 13 innings.
"We really didn't score runs," said Reggie Sanders, who went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. "Off of Curt, we hit the ball real hard but we hit it right at people. The first night, we scored a lot of runs, but it obviously wasn't enough. I don't know. I think we just really need to capitalize on every situation."
As strong as Martinez was, the Cards gave him some help, making two outs on the bases. Larry Walker was thrown out on an attempt to score on a Jim Edmonds flyout to left in the first inning -- though he had no plans to try until he saw Albert Pujols bearing down on third base -- and Suppan had his own missteps.
Both miscues helped Martinez escape trouble, as five baserunners turned into no runs in the first three innings. From there, he was untouchable. Martinez dispatched the last 14 batters who stepped in against him.
"The first three innings, we easily should have put three runs on the board," Walker said. "Perhaps more, but minimum three. We should have had a 3-1, 3-2 lead in the fourth or fifth inning."
Suppan made it three Cardinals starters in three games to get an early trip to the showers. He lasted 4 2/3 innings, surrendering all four runs on eight base hits. The two-time Red Sox pitcher actually turned in the longest start by a Cardinal in the World Series. St. Louis starters have logged a total of 11 1/3 innings in the three games.
"I felt pretty good with my stuff," said Suppan, who has been the team's best starter throughout the postseason. "I thought I was down in the zone and made some pitches when I had to. They just came up big with some two-out hits."
Unfortunately for St. Louis, Suppan was most noticeable on the bases. The right-hander beat out an infield single to open the third in a 1-0 game, and Edgar Renteria followed with a double that moved him to third base. Walker grounded to second, but Suppan got hung up and was thrown out trying to scramble back to third.
"I came to the plate trying to do what I did," Walker said. "All I wanted to do was hit a ground ball to second. It was the only thing in my mind. I didn't want to hit a fly ball, have it go too shallow and nobody advance. I wanted a ground ball to get a guy over, get a guy in."
Boston was conceding the run, with its infield playing deep. Second baseman Mark Bellhorn fired to David Ortiz at first for the out, and Suppan clearly had a chance to score. However, he held up despite third base coach Jose Oquendo's signal to go home. Suppan attempted to come back to third, by which time Ortiz's throw had beaten him and he was out.
"I don't really know how to describe it to you," Suppan said. "I screwed up there."
Manager Tony La Russa said that Suppan heard "No, no" from Oquendo, when Oquendo was yelling "Go, go."
It turned out to be the last time the Cardinals posed any danger. St. Louis didn't manage another hit until Walker's solo homer in the ninth inning.
"I think they're doing a lot of good things and we're not doing enough -- I don't think we're stinking up the joint, but we're capable of playing better," La Russa said. "They're stopping us sometimes, but we're better than some of the pitches and plays and swings that we've had."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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