NLCS Game 5 - St. Louis 5, Houston 4
Houston Leads Series 3-2
I learned a valuable lesson tonight. Never start writing your game recap until there are three outs in the ninth inning.
Well into five paragraphs of a story about the projected 4-2 victory by the Astros (and their first-ever National League Championship), Albert Pujols came up phat with a deafening 3-run homer to put St. Louis up 5-4 off the normally reliable Brad Lidge. The big shot came in every kid's dream situation: bottom of the ninth, 2 outs, down by 2, two runners on. All that was missing was the full count.
But on an 0-1 pitch, Lidge's offering flew down the middle of the plate, and Pujols knows exactly what to do with such foolish pitches.
At that moment, Houston hadn't been that quiet since Apollo 13 entered the Earth's atmosphere.
After Houston snagged an early 1-0 lead in the first, St. Louis inched ahead in the third by a Mark Grudzielanek base hit to right, which plated Eckstein and Larry Walker.
The SuperStars were unable to break Chris Carpenter in the first six innings, but in the seventh Lance Berkman provided a roaring 3-run jack to left, giving the former Colt .45s a 4-2 advantage.
That seemed to be plenty of offense as late as 2 outs in the ninth. Then Lidge (0-1) game up a seeing-eye base hit between short and third by Eckstein, then a Jim Edmonds walk brought up the MVP-caliber Pujols to provide his aforementioned ninth inning heroics on Lidge's hanging pitch down the middle of the plate.
So while I should be pissed off for having to write this story over again, I should be thankful that (a) the Astros didn't come back again, saving yet another overhaul, and (b) I get to watch a Game 6 in St. Louis. Scheduled to start the game are Game 2's pitchers, Roy Oswalt for Houston and Mark Mulder for the Cardinals (Wednesday, 8 p.m., FOX)
Meanwhile, the White Sox get to spend another day in the Jacuzzi.