Each team had six at-bats with runners in scoring position in the first two innings. The Cardinals went 0 for 6, with none of the six at-bats producing a ball that left the infield. The Phillies, on the other hand, went 3 for 6, the big blow a two-run single up the middle by Ryan Howard. Through two innings, the Phillies were leading 4-0, and the assumption throughout Citizens Bank Park was that the game was over.
Cardinals veteran right-hander Chris Carpenter, pitching on three days’ rest for the first time in 340 big league starts (regular and postseason combined), needed 23 pitches to record his first out, put himself in a 4-0 hole before he batted for the first time, and ultimately lasted only three innings.
Both Carpenter and Lee had issues with home-plate umpire Jerry Meals’s strike zone, and La Russa went so far as to rip Meals during his mid-game interview on TBS.
“Whatever the strike zone is, we’ll adjust,” La Russa said after the game, in regards to Meals’s strike zone. “[But] he had to figure out what the strike zone was.”
Against the Cardinals’ bullpen, the Phillies’ offense — which had produced 15 runs in the first 11 innings of the series — went cold. At one point, 15 consecutive batters went down, and when shortstop Jimmy Rollins finally broke the string with a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh, putting the tying run on base, he was promptly picked off trying to steal.
La Russa emptied his bullpen as only La Russa can, at one point using four different relievers in a four-batter span to navigate the dangerous heart of the Phillies’ order in the eighth.
A light, cold rain was falling by the time the Phillies went down in order in the ninth inning against Cardinals closer Jason Motte. As the Cardinals shook each other’s hands on the infield, the Phillies scurried back to their clubhouse, tagged with a loss they could not have seen coming just a couple of hours earlier.