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ST. LOUIS (AP) — David Freese homered, doubled and drove in four runs as the St. Louis Cardinals tagged playoff nemesis Roy Oswalt and beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 Wednesday night, forcing a deciding fifth game in their NL division series.
Center fielder Jon Jay made a sliding catch on Placido Polanco’s soft fly for the final out, and was already pointing his index finger before he got to his feet.
Now it’s back to Philadelphia for Game 5 on Friday night. Roy Halladay, who won the opener for the Phillies, will face St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has already called it a dream matchup.
The 102-win Phillies are favored to win it all. But first they must dispose of the wild-card Cardinals, who clinched a playoff spot on the last day of the season and have gotten the best of two members of the Phils’ star-studded rotation.
And suddenly, this first-round series has gotten squirrelly for the Phillies. An omen, maybe: Right after Oswalt threw a pitch in the fifth, a squirrel darted across the plate.
Albert Pujols was hitless in four at-bats in what could have been his final home game with the Cardinals. He received thunderous cheers every trip to the plate from a standing room crowd of 47,071, second-largest at 6-year-old Busch Stadium.
Pujols made his presence known on defense, catching Chase Utley going for an extra base in the sixth. Utley drew a leadoff walk and kept running on Hunter Pence’s grounder to short, but Pujols alertly jumped off first base to catch the throw and made a sharp relay to third for the out.
Edwin Jackson recovered from a rocky beginning to win his first playoff start with six solid innings. Jason Motte worked a perfect ninth for his second save of the series.
Phillies cleanup hitter Ryan Howard was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. He is 0 for 8 the last two games with five strikeouts and has hit only one ball out of the infield.
Oswalt had been 5-0 with a 3.25 ERA in 10 previous postseason starts, the biggest closing out old Busch Stadium and the Cardinals in 2005 to get Houston to its first World Series. The right-hander also worked seven shutout innings against St. Louis in the Phillies’ NL East-division clincher in mid-September.
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