Cardinals rally with small ball

Saturday, April 9, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- The National League's top-hitting lineup won its final home opener at Busch Stadium without any big hits.

Larry Walker tied the game with a four-pitch walk from Aaron Fultz in the eighth inning, and Albert Pujols followed with another walk that forced in the go-ahead run Friday in the Cardinals' 6-5 win over Philadelphia.

"It turned out to be a pretty smart move, pitching around me to get to Albert. Just kidding," Walker said. "The fact Albert steps in, someone of his caliber, plus the noise our fans are making, you put those two things together and it makes for a pretty dicey situation."

The defending NL champions trailed 5-1 after five innings, but Philadelphia failed to hold a lead for the third straight game and dropped to 1-3.

Mark Mulder had a mediocre Cardinals' debut, allowing five runs -- four earned -- and nine hits in six innings. He finished poorly for Oakland last season, going 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA in his last seven starts, and wasn't any better Friday, walking four and striking out just three.

"I'm not very happy with it," Mulder said. "I just tried to battle and hang in there."

New St. Louis shortstop David Eckstein reached base in all five plate appearances, making it eight in a row over a two-game span on three singles, a double, three walks and a hit by pitch.

New Cardinals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek booted Bobby Abreu's double-play grounder, which could have helped Mulder escape what turned into a two-run first. Grudzielanek went to the mound to apologize soon after the misplay.

Philadelphia took a four-run lead into the sixth before Reggie Sanders hit an RBI double off Cory Lidle that went off the center-field wall, the ball popping out of Jason Michaels' glove as he made contact.

Pujols hit into a run-scoring double play off Terry Adams in the seventh, and the Cardinals went ahead with a three-run eighth.

Grudzielanek, Sanders and pinch-hitter Yadier Molina loaded the bases with consecutive singles off Ryan Madson (0-1). Roger Cedeno, another pinch hitter, had a sacrifice fly that pulled St. Louis to 5-4.

"No defense for a walk," Fultz said. "With all the excitement, I was trying to throw too hard and cutting everything."

Phillies closer Billy Wagner didn't warm up until the ninth, even though Walker is 4-for-7 for his career against Fultz and Pujols is one of the most dangerous hitters in the major leagues.

"I wanted Billy to start the ninth," Manuel said. "I wanted him to start the ninth fresh."

Jason Isringhausen took over from Al Reyes (1-0) and made the ninth inning an adventure, walking Placido Polanco leading off, giving up a one-out single to Pat Burrell and throwing a wild pitch that put runners on second and third.

After intentionally walking Jim Thome to load the bases, he retired David Bell on a foulout on the next pitch, then struck out Kenny Lofton for his second save.

David Bell got his first two RBIs of the season for the Phillies, and Lidle allowed one earned run, five hits and three walks in 5 1-3 innings.

After Grudzielanek's misplay in the first, Burrell's sacrifice fly and Bell's RBI single gave Philadelphia a 2-0 lead.

Scott Rolen hit a run-scoring groundout in the bottom half, but Bell and Michaels hit RBI singles in the third and Michaels hit another run-scoring single in the fifth, with Molina missing a sweeping tag attempt on Abreu and losing his grip on the ball.

Notes: Cardinals representing Busch's four decades -- Red Schoendienst, Bob Gibson, Bob Forsch, Tom Pagnozzi and Pujols -- threw simultaneous ceremonial first pitches. ... At each game of the final season at Busch, a celebrity will turn a number on the right-field wall that represents the countdown. Football Hall of Famer Jackie Smith, who played for the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals, did the honors after five innings Friday. ... Bell is 8-for-19 against Mulder. ... Reyes allowed two hits in two scoreless innings with three strikeouts for his first victory since July 14, 2001, when he was with the Dodgers.

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