Chris Young shut down the Cardinals’ offense for 6 2-3 innings, Russell Branyan’s two-run double gave the NL West champions their first lead of the series and the Padres beat St. Louis 3-1 on Saturday, pulling to 2-1 in their NL playoff.
Stopping the Cardinals from sweeping the Padres in the first round for the second straight year, San Diego got Hoffman on the mound for the first time this week.
“Anytime he comes into a game,” San Diego’s Mike Cameron said, “that’s a real good sign for us.”
St. Louis sends ace Chris Carpenter to the mound in Game 4 on Sunday, when the Padres will try to force the series back to San Diego for a fifth game Monday.
“I think Chris is as good as anybody in baseball,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “So I always think we have a chance, a good chance. It’s a game we hoped not to play.”
“Probably as much as having confidence in Woody, we think Jake could use another day,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s pitched a lot down the stretch, and we’re in a situation where we need to win two games.”
Carpenter will be made his third straight start against the Padres, including his final regular-season outing.
“No matter what game it is and how many times you’ve seen them, the goal is to execute pitches and execute your game plan,” Carpenter said. “If you can do that you’ll have success. If you don’t, you won’t.”
Williams won 18 games for the Cardinals in 2002 and was their Game 1 World Series starter in 2004.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “I can’t get too emotional about it.”
Young, a 6-foot-10 right-hander, was the NL’s best road starter, going 6-0 with a 2.41 ERA. Making his first postseason appearance, the 27-year-old allowed four hits, walked two and struck out nine, fanning Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen twice each. He is 9-0 in 24 road outings dating to June 25, 2005.
“I don’t think he’s difficult to hit,” Pujols said. “I saw the ball good, but I chased some bad pitches, and when you chase bad pitches you actually make the guy difficult.”
Bochy had been 0-8 against the Cardinals in the playoffs, with his team also getting swept in 1996.
“No getting away from it, they’ve had their way with us,” Bochy said. “We’re hearing ‘Who’s your Padre?’ There’s a real sense of relief to finally win a game against these guys in the playoffs. it took a well-pitched game.”
Hoffman led the NL with 46 saves this season and set the career record with 482, passing Lee Smith. He pitched only one inning in last year’s series against St. Louis.
“It felt good to finally get out there,” Hoffman said. “Everything was working for me.”
San Diego won despite stranding a division series-record 14 and going 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position, leaving the Padres at 1-for-25 in the series. San Diego scored one run in losing the first two games at home.
Pujols, who had five hits in the first two games, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a double-play grounder. The second strikeout came with runners on first and second for the second out in the sixth, and Jim Edmonds followed with a flyout to the wall in left.
San Diego went ahead when Adrian Gonzalez singled with one out in the fourth, Cameron walked and Branyan drove the ball into the right-field corner. Branyan took third on the throw, with second baseman Ronnie Belliard leaping and then stumbling to retrieve the off-line relay from right fielder Juan Encarnacion, and scored on Blum’s fly.
Taguchi, who homered only twice in 316 at-bats during the regular season, homered leading off the eighth and Chris Duncan walked with one out. But with the crowd of 46,634 chanting “M-V-P!” Pujols grounded into a double play.
Seven pitches by Hoffman, and the Padres were celebrating. But it was muted.
“We’re not going to get excited just yet,” reliever Alan Embree said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Roberts, 7-for-11 against Suppan during the regular season in his career, singled in all three at-bats against him. … Cardinals Hall of Fame SS Ozzie Smith threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock, making his first appearance since a lower abdominal injury on Sept. 28, escaped a bases-loaded situation in the fifth to keep the deficit at 3-0.