10/09/06 12:39 AM ET
Lack of production proves Pads' demise
Friars go 2-for-32 with runners in scoring position in NLDS
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
In the ninth, pinch-hitter Ryan Klesko crushed a double to center with one out against Adam Wainwright and stopped at third when Josh Barfield lined a single to center -- the team's second hit of the series with runners in scoring position, Russell Branyan having delivered the first with his two-run double in Game 3.But Khalil Greene, who never really had a chance to find his stroke with a debilitating hand injury, struck out looking and Roberts tapped out to Pujols at first to touch off the latest October celebration in the Show Me State. "We created some good situations there late in the ballgame," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "We just didn't deliver -- and it probably was the downfall really for the whole series. "We had numerous opportunities to break games open, but they made pitches when they had to. They did a great job on our hitters and kept us from scoring." In Game 4, both the Padres and Cards struck quickly. In the top of the first, after singles by Giles and Gonzalez, Carpenter lost command of the strike zone, walking Bard on four pitches and then Branyan on a full count to force in a run. Mike Cameron's speed accounted for the second run when he beat a relay to first on what could have been an inning-ending double play, Gonzalez scoring the second run on the force. After Geoff Blum's walk loaded the bases again, Barfield grounded into a force to end the threat. Williams, like his former Cards teammate Carpenter, fought his control out of the chute. Preston Wilson singled with one out and moved up on Pujols' infield out. After Jim Edmonds was hit by a 3-2 pitch, Williams walked Encarnacion and surrendered a two-run single to center to Ronnie Belliard, who was out trying to take second on the throw. Carpenter and Williams both settled into grooves until the Cards came alive in the sixth. After a walk to Pujols on five pitches, Encarnacion went the other way with his triple into the right-field corner, scoring Pujols. Cla Meredith was summoned to replace Williams, and the rookie side-armer who worked magic all through the second half of the regular season pitched in tough luck on this occasion. First Meredith hit Belliard in the hip with a 2-2 pitch. Then Spiezio lined a 1-2 pitch past the pitcher's glove into center, scoring Encarnacion and sending Belliard to second. Yadier Molina's line single to right loaded the bases for Carpenter, who grounded wide of third. Branyan's hurried throw sailed wide of the plate for an error, Belliard scoring. After Eckstein's squeeze brought home Spiezio with the final run, Meredith struck out Wilson to finally end the inning. The damage had been done, and the end was near. It was a season rich in memorable moments and scenes, from Trevor Hoffman eclipsing Lee Smith as the all-time saves leader and Piazza providing power and presence to breakout performances from an impressive array of young talents. "You've thrown your body around and been banged up all season to get to this point," Cameron, a driving force all season, said, "and then it's all over so quick. When you have a taste of it like this, it makes it tougher to move on. This was a character-building type thing. "The San Diego Padres have a lot of pieces in place to have a legitimate chance every year. Hopefully, they'll keep the right things in order to try to make it happen again. There's been a lot of support for this team, and I really think the foundation is there for a good run. "It's just a shame we couldn't keep this good thing going."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.