TRY AS THEY may, the San Diego Padres couldn't get the job done against Mark Mulder (1-0) and the Cardinals as St. Louis claimed a 6-2 victory to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 series.
Mulder scattered 8 hits over 6 2/3 innings, allowing just a single run.
But it wasn't until St. Louis' fifth run of the game that was driven in by a base hit. A third-inning by Padre SS Khalil Greene's faulty attempt to start a double play opened the gates to establish a 2-0 lead.
The Male Parents' starter Pedro Astacio (0-1) only lasted four innings while giving up four runs — two unearned — and throwing 80 pitches.
The Cardinals aim to finish off the Padres on the road at PETCO Park Saturday night at 11 p.m. (ESPN). Their executioner of choice is Matt Morris, while San Diego will begin their attempt at a three-game comeback with ex-Cardinal Woody Williams.
WHILE THE ROOKIES have been the story of the '05 Braves, it took a mixture of the youth movement and a vintage moment by a Braves starter.
Rookie backup catcher Brian McCann clocked a 3-run home run while 2nd-year first baseman Adam LaRoche smashed a deep double to drive in two more runs, all off the ageless Roger Clemens (0-1) to give the Braves a 7-1 victory.
But John Smoltz (1-0) turned in a strong start reminiscient of his postseason starts in the 90s by lasting seven innings and giving up just one run. Smoltzy earned his career 15th postseason win, passing Andy Pettite for the all-time most in a career. And Andruw Jones — once known as a 19-year old hitting home runs in the World Series — went 3-for-4 and scored three runs.
It was Smoltz's first postseason win since the '99 World Series against the Yankees. The pitcher he faced? Clemens.
Game 3 will be played Saturday at 7:30 p.m., when the Astros' Roy Oswalt faces off against the Braves' Jorge Sosa.
4:05 p.m. ET: Chicago White Sox (Freddy Garcia) at Boston Red Sox (Tim Wakefield) on ESPN
--The Sox are 2-0 and look to close out the series with a win at Fenway.
8:05 p.m. ET: Los Angeles Angels (Paul Byrd) at New York Yankees (Randy Johnson) on ESPN
--With the series tied at one game apiece, the scene shifts to the East coast.