Super Subs Help Cards Tie Mets in NLCS
Saturday, October 14th 2006, 7:53 am
By: News On 6
NEW YORK (AP) _ Super subs So Taguchi and Scott Spiezio saved St. Louis on a night when Mets closer Billy Wagner wobbled, allowing the Cardinals to head home with a split in the NL championship series.
Taguchi hit a tiebreaking homer off Billy Wagner leading off a three-run ninth inning, lifting St. Louis to a 9-6 victory Friday night that tied the NL championship series at one game apiece.
NL Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter faltered, but the Cardinals tied the game after trailing 3-0 and 4-2, then came back again in the seventh after falling behind 6-4.
During the regular season, Taguchi isn't much of a power threat: He homered just twice in 316 at-bats this year. But he's 2-for-2 with a pair of homers in the postseason, also connecting off San Diego's Scott Linebrink in Game 3 of the first round.
Wagner entered with the score 6-all in the ninth. Taguchi, 0-for-5 against him in his career, worked the count full and, on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, drove the ball over the left-field wall.
``I can't explain. It's unbelievable,'' Taguchi said. ``Who expected that I would hit a home run? Maybe nobody. Even me.''
Albert Pujols then singled and scored on a double by Spiezio, whose seventh-inning triple off Guillermo Mota had tied the score. Juan Encarnacion followed with a run-scoring single off Wagner, who had gotten the save in New York's opening 2-0 win Thursday night but was booed when he walked back to the dugout after being removed with two outs.
``They must have fouled off 60, 70 pitches,'' Mets manager Willie Randolph said. ``We made some bad pitches at the wrong times.''
Spiezio, playing because slumping All-Star third baseman Scott Rolen was benched, nearly had a home run in the seventh _ but right fielder Shawn Green got his glove above the wall, and the ball ricocheted off the thumb of his glove, then hit the top of the fence and bounced back onto the field.
Right field umpire Tim Welke got the initial call right and, after Cardinals manager Tony La Russa came onto the field, the umpires huddled and upheld the decision, which replays showed was correct.
``I was sitting on everything,'' Spiezio said. ``I was trying to shorten my swing even more.''
Yadier Molina had a two-run double in the second and Jim Edmonds hit a two-run homer in the third for St. Louis, and Josh Kinney got the win by pitching a scoreless eighth _ getting Carlos Beltran to ground into an inning-ending double play with two on.
Carlos Delgado drove in four runs with a three-run homer and a solo shot off Carpenter, but John Maine lasted just four innings and while he gave up two hits, each drove in two runs. He walked five and threw 92 pitches _ three more than Tom Glavine needed to get through seven shutout innings the night before.
Carpenter had trouble controlling his curveball and with plate umpire Jim Joyce's tight strike zone, allowing five runs, six hits and four walks in five innings.
Because of Wednesday's rainout, there is not a travel day. When the series shifts Saturday night to the new Busch Stadium not far from the Mississippi River, Steve Traschel (15-8) pitches for the Mets against Jeff Suppan (12-7).
It was 54 degrees at gametime, down 13 from the opener. Shortstop Jose Reyes wore a black ski cap with a Mets logo during batting practice, and some of the umpires wore gloves during the game.
Rolen, 1-for-14 in the postseason as he tries to play with a sore left shoulder, was dropped after going hitless in the opener. New York was missing left fielder Cliff Floyd, who reinjured his left Achilles' tendon in Thursday's opener.
New York broke on top quickly. Reyes doubled leading off, Beltran walked with one out and Delgado hit a 440-foot, opposite-field drive into the left-center field bleachers for a 3-0 lead.
But Delgado made a key error in the second. Edmonds walked leading off and Spiezio hit a grounder down the first-base line that should have been one out and possibly two. The ball glanced off Delgado's glove for an error that put runners on second and third, and Encarnacion followed with a walk that loaded the bases. Maine got Ronnie Belliard to hit an infield popup, but Molina hit an opposite-field double to right, closing the Cardinals to 3-2.
Endy Chavez, Floyd's replacement, was 0-for-11 against Carpenter coming in but doubled to right leading off the bottom half and scored on Reyes' single for a 4-2 lead. That was the last hit Carpenter allowed until Delgado's second homer.
Pujols walked with one out in the third after his foul pop down the left-field line fell just beyond the gloves of Reyes, Chavez and third baseman David Wright. Edmonds then hit a ball to center that carried a little bit over the center-field fence for his 12th postseason homer.
Delgado homered into the left-field seats for a 5-4 lead in the fifth, and Paul Lo Duca added an RBI double off Josh Hancock that scored the speedy Reyes from first in the sixth _ the first run in the postseason off the Cardinals' bullpen, which had thrown 16 scoreless innings.
But Pujols, on the 11th pitch of his at-bat, ended an 0-for-12 slide with a two-out single in the seventh off Mota, who then walked Edmonds. Behind in the count 0-2, Spiezio pulled a changeup foul, then sent the ball soaring to right, when Green stopped it from being a homer. With the go-ahead run at third, Aaron Heilman came in and retired Encarnacion on a groundout.
With the potential go-ahead run in second in the eighth, Heilman got David Eckstein to ground out on the 12th pitch to him. New York got two on with one out in the eighth, but Beltran grounded into a double play.
Notes: The only other multihomer game for the Mets in the NLCS was by Rusty Staub in Game 3 in 1973 against Cincinnati.