Getting out of a first-inning jam sometimes turns out to be the difference in baseball games that feature opposing aces. The Padres know just how close they came to giving the St. Louis Cardinals the game Tuesday night, but Jon Garland suffocated the bats of the Cardinals. The Padres’ bullpen held on to beat the Cardinals 1-0.
Felipe Lopez led off the game with a single to center. After Ryan Ludwick flied out, Albert Pujols reached on an infield single. Garland then walked Matt Holiday to load the bases. Jon Garland then showed a sense of urgency striking out the next two batters to get out of the inning.
Garland said that striking out the last two hitters in the inning gave him a boost that lasted the remainder of the contest.
“A tremendous lift,” Garland said of the two strikeouts. “I don’t want to say they let me off the hook because they are out there battling. But it’s a big pick-me-up for the whole team. Getting out of it, the energy just picked everybody up.”
The win was Garland’s sixth straight. He gave up six hits to the Cardinals, and was the benefactor of two inning-ending double plays. sinker was effective enough to lower his ERA to 2.10.
Jerry Hairston Jr.’s solo homerun in the second inning proved to be the difference in a game that both pitchers hurled close to perfect games. Hairston knows the atmosphere of games like these can totally hinge on one pitch.
“If he doesn’t get out of the first inning, the whole complexion of the ball game could change,” Hairston said. “But that’s why he’s our ace. He was struggling there, but he still found a way to get it down.”
David Freese was disappointed in his plate appearance, realizing that he had a chance to put his team ahead early in a game that Adam Wainwright made few mistakes.
“Bases loaded and we couldn’t put the ball in play,” Freese said. “He was real effective and did what he had to do to grab the win.”
Wainwright lasted seven innings allowing just one earned run, off four hits, and threw 67 of his 102 pitches for strikes. The St. Louis ace struck out 12 and issued just one base-on-balls.
San Diego manager Bud Black could tell early in the game that it would be a pitchers duel.
“As you got through the first couple of innings, you could sense that both pitchers felt they had to match each other,” said Black.
Garland is in the midst of his longest winning streak since he won eight in a row with the Chicago White Sox. He had lost his last three meetings with the Cardinals before the win Tuesday night.
The Padres will run out Kevin Correia against the Cardinals’ Jamie Garcia in their next meeting. MLB Sportsbooks have slated the St. Louis Cardinals as the favorite in Wednesday night’s game with the San Diego Padres at -120.