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10/03/06 8:04 PM ET

Padres Short Hops: Game 1

Missed opportunities, Carpenter's pitching doom Friars

SAN DIEGO -- Fielding the Padres' Game 1 loss to the Cardinals on a short hop ...

In 25 words or less ...
Too many swings and misses vs. Chris Carpenter. Big missed opportunity with two on in the fourth when Russell Branyan struck out to end the threat.

Frozen moment
After catcher Mike Piazza kissed the net and couldn't snare Albert Pujols' foul popup on a 1-1 pitch, the Redbirds slugger cracked a two-run homer in the fourth with Chris Duncan aboard. A mere fleeting seconds in time, but now a vastly enduring moment.

Big number
Twelve hits by the Cardinals proved too much for the Friars, especially two singles, a double and a homer in the three-run fourth frame. Those middle-inning blows were timely and decisive, while San Diego's chances were late and mostly futile, with run-scoring opportunities lost in the seventh and eighth innings, with four runners left on the bases.

Game balls (out of five)
Dave Roberts, five. The leadoff hitter was the lone Padre to solve the mystery of Carpenter's baffling pitches, as he tripled, singled twice and scored a run.

Brian Giles, three. Giles' sixth-inning sacrifice fly brought home San Diego's lone run, and he also doubled in the eighth.

Branyan, one. Branyan tripled in the seventh with one out, but unfortunately was left stranded.

Jake Peavy, one. Peavy pitched three scoreless innings, but the Redbirds' three-run fourth proved to be all the runs they neeeded.

Sense of October
The Padres were bolstered by a sellout crowd of 43,107, which produced thunderous applause, yet it didn't help with the game on the line in the seventh with the bases loaded and only one out. Mark Bellhorn struck out and Todd Walker grounded to Belliard, who made a super slide toward right field, grab and throw.

Lines of the Game
Adrian Gonzalez
4 AB, 0 R, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 2B, 0 RBIs
Comment: Gonzalez hit .304 this season with 82 RBIs, yet fanned twice against Carpenter and grounded out, leaving three runners stranded.

5.1 IP, 5 R, 11 H, 1 BB, 2 Ks
Comment: Good for the first three innings, but Peavy allowed nine hits in fourth, fifth and sixth. He had a so-so season and followed suit in the NLDS opener.

"They played our type of game today. They played a great ballgame. They pitched, they played defense, they robbed a bunch of runs from us. Any of those hits get through, you get a little rally going. You never know what could have happened."
-- Gonzalez

Next step
The Padres are now well aware the Cardinals' end-of-September slump is over -- this is a new, more intense "season" now. Veteran David Wells will perhaps pitch his last game in Game 2 on Thursday, and he needs to be at his best -- and keep Pujols from hitting the long ball.

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.