Braves 8 (81-61), Cardinals 6 (73-66)
WP: Moylan (6-2)
LP: Carpenter (15-6)
SV: Wagner (33)
The importance of tonight's win really cannot be understated. This win was *huge*. After a loss last night where the team looked uninspired after the first inning, the mojo came back to Turner Field in the 6th inning. The Braves were down 4-2, and Chris Carpenter was dealing. Brooks Conrad pinch hit for Peter Moylan and singled. Then Omar Infante singled. Jason Heyward singled in Conrad, and it was a one run game all of a sudden. Martin Prado came up and doubled in Infante to tie the game...and then the bats really went off. Brian McCann hit a deep fly ball to right that John Jay misplayed, allowing Prado and Heyward to score. 6-4. Derrek Lee singled in McCann. 7-4. After a couple of sacrifices, it was 8-4. Just like that, the Braves had a nice lead and things looked good. Offensive highlights...well, Nate McLouth got the scoring started with a second inning solo homer, and at this point, I think he's got his swagger back and should be playing daily...he's 5 for his last 12. Better than Rick Ankiel, thats for sure. Lee had a couple of singles to continue his hot streak, and Prado got back on track with a couple of doubles. Heyward also reached twice. Yeah...I'll take it. Runs are runs. Only 3 men stranded tonight, and a perfect 5/5 with runners in scoring position. This...is improvement!
Pitching...rough night, as expected when you allow 6 runs. Mike Minor allowed 4 runs in 5 innings, but only walked 1 and struck out 4. More concerning? The 2 homers allowed, including one to pitcher Chris Carpenter. Can't let the bad hitters beat you...and that nearly happened tonight. The pitch Carpenter hit wasn't even a good one...chest high, a little off the plate. But he pushed it out of the park...a little depressing. Bullpen was alright. Peter Moylan threw a scoreless 6th in relief of Minor to pick up the win, striking out 2 and only throwing 13 pitches. The well-rested Jonny Venters...didn't pitch as such, getting into a jam and allowing 3 baserunners and 2 runs (1 earned) to make the game close. Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner? 6 up, 6 down, 19 pitches, 2 strikeouts. Thats what they're getting paid the big bucks for.
Phillies won, so the Braves are still a game back in the east. Giants and Padres are scoreless in the 3rd, Braves came into the night a game up in the wild card...some breathing room there would be nice. Pitching matchup tomorrow is Jake Westbrook for the Cardinals, and Tommy Hanson for the Braves. Westbroook has 6 quality starts in his 7 tries since becoming a Cardinal...that's not a good omen for the Braves. Hanson's last 2 starts have been quality after a pair of stinkers...he'll need a good one to match Westbrook. Its a 4 PM start, and I'm blacked out, so it looks like I'll be going through nefarious means to watch the game...gotta love MLB blackout rules!