Pujols’ bat puts hurt on Brewers
Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 7:02 pm
By CHRIS JENKINS
AP Sports Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Thanks to Albert Pujols’ monster night, the St. Louis Cardinals have done exactly what they set out to do in the NL championship series: Erase the Milwaukee Brewers’ home-field advantage.
After a 12-3 victory over the Brewers in Monday night’s Game 2, the Cardinals are headed home tied in the series with ace Chris Carpenter taking the mound in Game 3. Things are looking a lot brighter than they did after blowing a big lead in the first game of the series.
“If you want to make it a competitive series, winning a game here, that’s a big step in the right direction,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
Carpenter faces Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo on Wednesday night.
Sweep three games at home and the Cardinals move on to the World Series — but in a matchup of two intense NL Central rivals who have played each other evenly all season, nobody’s counting on that.
“It’s a pretty evenly matched series,” Cardinals slugger Lance Berkman said. “I would imagine that this thing is a long way from being over.”
It was a temporary setback for the Brewers, who remain confident despite some cracks developing in their starting pitching beyond Gallardo and Zack Greinke.
“Sometimes, you’re going to get spanked a little bit,” center fielder Nyjer Morgan said.
Pujols certainly spanked the Brewers’ pitching in Game 2 — over and over and over. The three-time MVP went 4-for-5 with a home run, three doubles and five RBIs.
His big hits came one night after Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder bashed the Brewers to a 9-6, come-from-behind victory in Game 1.
This time, the big bats couldn’t bring Milwaukee back — even at Miller Park. Milwaukee was the best home team in the majors all season and the Brewers had won all four home games in the playoffs until Monday.
“It wasn’t joyful,” Fielder said. “You’ve just got to deal with it and move on.”
Until Monday, Pujols hadn’t been producing runs in this year’s playoffs.
He was 1-for-4 in Sunday night’s loss, hitting into a double play with runners on first and third in the seventh inning. A run scored on the play, but it seemed to be an indication that Pujols wasn’t quite on his game. He came into Monday with only one RBI in the Cardinals’ first six postseason games.
“You learn from the mistakes that you made,” Pujols said. “Yesterday was just so tough. Going to bed, I was just thinking about some of the opportunities I had to help our ballclub win. I turned that page, knowing today was a new day.”
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, of course, has seen such things from Pujols before.
“The last time we saw them at their place he was swinging the bat just like this,” Roenicke said. “You can’t make mistakes to him. You have to hit spots. You have to keep it down in the zone. He doesn’t miss too many mistakes.”
Rickie Weeks hit a two-run homer in the fourth for Milwaukee, then was involved in a disputed play in the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Weeks grounded into a double play, though replays showed he was safe.
Weeks — hobbled by the lingering effects of a midseason left ankle injury — appeared to beat the throw to first base and seemed upset when he was called out.
“Big part in the game, whether he’s safe or out,” Roenicke said. “You guys saw the replay. That was a big play.”
Published in The Messenger 10.11.11