October 18, 2006


Cardinals ready to finish off Mets

Pujols HR blow helps capture Game 5


AssociatedPress/Chris Carlson
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright celebrates after getting the final out in the Cardinals 4-2 win over the New York Mets in Game 5 of the NLCS Tuesday.

AP Baseball Writer

ST. LOUIS — One win from the World Series, with their ace on the mound. Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals are all set to finish off the Mets.
A big swing by Pujols and another playoff gem from a rejuvenated Jeff Weaver sent St. Louis to a 4-2 victory over New York on Tuesday night and a 3-2 lead in the NL championship series.
Chris Carpenter, last year’s Cy Young Award winner, can close it out Wednesday night in Game 6 at Shea Stadium, which would give the Cardinals their second pennant in three years and a date with the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.
“Couldn’t ask for a better situation,” Weaver said.
Pujols was in a good mood, too, and he actually had a few nice things to say about Tom Glavine this time.
After claiming Glavine “wasn’t good at all” in the opener even though he pitched seven shutout innings, the 2005 NL MVP finally touched up New York’s soft-tossing lefty with a rally-starting homer in the fourth.
“He doesn’t give in too much,” Pujols said. “I’m just glad it went out of the park.”
The Cardinals also got timely hits from Preston Wilson and Ronnie Belliard, and an insurance homer by pinch-hitter Chris Duncan. With the red-clad crowd of 46,496 twirling white towels, St. Louis’ young bullpen held on in the late innings after getting roughed up during New York’s 12-5 victory in Game 4.
Now, the Mets must count on rookie right-hander John Maine on Wednesday as they try to force a Game 7 at home.
“We’re backed into a corner,” David Wright said. “We’re going to go out there and play relaxed, play loose tomorrow, try to come out swinging and break their hearts.”
The second rainout of the series Monday night gave Glavine and Weaver a chance to pitch on regular rest instead of only a three-day break. And for the second time in the series, the clubs will travel without a day off.
Making his 35th postseason start, the most in major league history, Glavine got just 12 outs.
“They hit my bad pitches. I made a few mistakes tonight and didn’t get away with them,” he said. “I didn’t feel like they made all that many adjustments. I made a mistake to Albert, he hit it. I made a mistake on Preston and he hit it for a double. All the other ones were kind of bloopers and groundballs that went through holes.”
Weaver, on the other hand, earned his second impressive playoff victory.
“I think one advantage of playing a team in a long series like this is the opportunity to pitch twice. You get a pretty good read off of their approach last time,” Weaver said. “I knew what they had hit before.”
Pujols’ homer put St. Louis on the board and snapped Glavine’s 22-inning scoreless streak that dated to his final regular-season start at Washington.
“I think we made him work,” Pujols said. “We hit the ball the other way and he obviously left a couple of balls up. We took advantage.”
The 40-year-old Glavine threw four-hit ball in Game 1, beating Weaver 2-0 on Carlos Beltran’s two-run homer.
But Weaver got the best of this matchup. Cast off by the Los Angeles Angels this summer to make roster room for little brother Jered, the St. Louis right-hander kept Beltran and Carlos Delgado in check, yielding only two runs and six hits in six strong innings.
“I don’t even remember the first half of the season,” Weaver said. “Just continued to believe in myself that eventually things would turn around.”
The Mets put runners at second and third with one out in the eighth, but Randy Flores retired Shawn Green on a shallow fly and rookie Adam Wainwright struck out Jose Valentin looking to preserve a two-run lead. Wainwright fanned Jose Reyes to end the game for his second save of the postseason.
“He’s got so much composure in the toughest situations, so we’ve gotten a tremendous lift from those guys,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.
In this postseason, Cardinals relievers have held opponents to 0-for-31 with two outs and runners in scoring position.
“We didn’t have too many opportunities,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “The bullpen did a great job.”
Weaver is 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA in three playoff starts. He tossed five innings of two-hit ball to beat San Diego 2-0 in Game 2 of the first round.
“The biggest key to our win was the way he pitched,” La Russa said. “The more you think about what he did, the more credit he deserves.”
Valentin’s two-run double in the fourth put New York ahead. But while the Mets have scored in 10 innings during the series, seven times St. Louis has responded with at least one run in its next at-bat.
Sure enough, Glavine couldn’t hold the lead. Pujols pulled a 2-2 pitch barely over the left-field fence in the fourth, his first home run since Game 1 against the Padres and his 12th overall in the postseason.
“Albert just got enough of it, and you get something going,” La Russa said. “That got us going and really perked us up.”
With two outs, Scott Rolen walked, Jim Edmonds singled and Belliard bounced a tying single through the right side as Delgado broke for first base instead of toward the ball.
The Cardinals chased Glavine in the fifth, taking a 3-2 lead on Wilson’s RBI double. Duncan, the son of St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan, homered off Pedro Feliciano in the sixth.
Glavine threw only 40 of his 80 pitches for strikes, allowing three runs and seven hits in four-plus innings. He also failed to tie former Atlanta teammate John Smoltz for the most wins in postseason history at 15.
Notes: Eckstein got up slowly after a diving stop in the first. ... Ex-Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog, who led the team to its last World Series title in 1982, threw out the first pitch.




Eagles, Lions blank foes

The McGraw Central and Cincinnatus Central girls’ soccer teams found Central Counties League success by the same score Tuesday afternoon.
The unbeaten Eagles from McGraw, who have already wrapped up a third consecutive league championship, scored their 12th shutout of the season (in 16 games) and improved to 11-0 league by beating visiting Stockbridge Valley 5-0.
Cincy’s Red Lions, meanwhile, traveled to Otselic Valley and came home with a 5-0 victory to improve to 8-3 in league play and 9-7 overall.
The Red Lions visit the Eagles Thursday in the regular-season CCL finale for both teams.
McGraw 5, SV 0: Nicole Law led the way with two goals and an assist to lead the way for the winners, the fourth-ranked Class D team in the state.
Her goals, both unassisted, came just over three minutes apart —with 13:33 and 10:29 left in the first half — after the Eagles had taken a 2-0. That early edge came on on goals by Monica Byron (assisted by Heather Rogers) and Jen Rutan (off a Law assist) in the first 17 minutes.
Jaimie Harriger wrapped up the scoring with 1:16 left in the first half with another unassisted tally.
Keeper Chelsea Hayes made two saves, one of them a diving stop of a second-half shot headed toward the left post, and shared the shutout with Kailee Williams, who didn’t have to make any saves after coming in late in the contest. McGraw piled up a 17-2 shot advantage.
“We have some people on the bench — Heather Rogers at forward-midfield, and midfielders Katie Niver and Lisa Soshinsky — who are playing better and better, which makes me feel that we’re ready for sectionals,” said Eagles coach John Rutan, whose team should earn the top seed in the upcoming Class D tournament.
Cincinnatus 5, OV 1: KaraBeth Eaton scored twice and added an assist and JaLynne Smith had two goals as the Red Lions triumphed. Smith scored off a corner kick by Eaton six minutes in, and Eaton gave the Red Lions a 2-0 halftime lead with an unassisted tally 12 minutes before intermission.
Jolene Eaton, KaraBeth’s sister, made it 3-0 with her goal 10 minutes into the second half before KaraBeth Eaton scored with 20 minutes left and Smith tallied with nine minutes remaining.
Cincy keeper Savannah Ward made one save to record the shutout. CINCY BOYS STILL ALIVE: Due to incorrect information provided to the Standard, Tuesday’s article on CCL boys’ soccer noted that McGraw had already clinched its fourth straight league championship. In fact, the Eagles are currently 9-1 in league play while runner-up Cincinnatus finishes at 9-2-1, including a forfeit by Brookfield of today’s scheduled game.
McGraw will thus clinch the title by winning either of its remaining games (both at home), today with Stockbridge Valley and Friday with Otselic Valley.




Red Dragon stickers ranked No. 1 in polls

As the lone unbeaten remaining in Division III, the SUNY Cortland field hockey team has claimed the top spot in the latest National Field Hockey Coaches Association national poll.
The 13-0 Red Dragons received 27 of 50 first-place votes in the poll and received 951 points. The College of New Jersey (11-1), which will host Cortland on Oct. 29, is second with 908 points and 10 first-place votes.
Cortland is one of only two unbeaten NCAA schools at any level, along with Division II Bloomsburg (Pa.).
Cortland is the nation’s top-ranked Division III team for the first time since the final regular-season poll of the 2001 season. That year, the Red Dragons went on to win the national title.
Ninth-year head coach Cynthia Wetmore’s squad will host Morrisville this afternoon at 4 p.m. and Wilkes Saturday at 1 p.m. Cortland will also host St. Lawrence on Oct. 25 and Hartwick on Nov. 2 in addition to its trip to New Jersey.
The NCAA Division III playoffs begin with first-round games on Nov. 8, with four-team regionals slated for Nov. 11-12. The national semifinals and finals will be held at William Smith College in Geneva on Nov. 17-18.
DRAGON FROSH HONORED: Red Dragon freshman forward Mallory Morris has been selected the SUNY Athletic Conference women’s soccer Player of the Week.
Morris, out of Elizabeth Lewis High School, scored her first collegiate goals in back-to-back Cortland wins last week.
On Friday, she netted a goal in a 3-0 victory over Potsdam. The next afternoon, she scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win over Plattsburgh. That victory clinched a SUNYAC playoff berth for the Red Dragons, who are 5-3-1 in league play and 7-6-1 overall.
Cortland has a conference contest this afternoon, the women traveling to Oswego for a 3 p.m. match. Red Dragon men will be home this afternoon, facing Oswego at the same starting time.