MEMPHIS, TN - In their first of two meetings over the weekend, St. Louis proved just how tough it is to compete at the major league level as the Cardinals slugged their way to a 13-1 drumming of the Redbirds Friday night.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the game following a two-run shot by designated-hitter, Ryan Ludwick, in the top of the second and refused to let up, scoring eleven more largely unanswered runs in the outing.
The 'Birds only attempt to hold off St. Louis' early advances came with catcher Matt Pagnozzi's RBI-single later in the second, but their efforts proved to come up well short as the Cards answered Memphis' strike with another two-run inning in the third.
The Redbirds hole got even deeper following four- and five-run performances by St. Louis in the fourth and seventh innings, respectively.
The root of the Cards run can be traced to Ludwick, whose inital home run gave St. Louis a lead they would not release.
The shot caught the attention of Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who notes that although Ludwick might prefer batting in his home ballpark in St. Louis, he feels pretty comfortable at AutoZone Park, too.
"He likes hitting here a lot," La Russa said. "He likes Busch better, but he certainly likes hitting in this ballpark."
National League MVP Albert Pujols, made himself comfortable as well, going 3-for-5 with a home run and six RBI, a performance that no doubt brought a smile to the many Cardinals fans in attendance.
Helming the mound for St. Louis was former Redbird P.J. Walters, who allowed just four hits and one run, unearned, over seven innings of action in the start.
Getting the nod for the Redbirds in the loss was left-hander Ian Ostlund, who recieved the rare start after spending all of 2008 as a reliever. The lack of starting experience was fairly evident, as the southpaw finished the night allowing four runs on four hits in just over two innings of work.
Ostlund's early exit translated into a busy night for the 'Birds bullpen, which called on five relievers in the outing. Among those chosen to chew up some innings was fellow lefty Charlie Manning, whose brief appearance translated into four earned runs and four walks in just over one inning. Rounding out the rest of the night's staff were Matt Scherer, Royce Ring, Marco Gonzalez and Chris Perez, combining for a total of five earned runs and five strikeouts in five innings.
At the plate, the Redbirds finished the night with five hits and five strikeouts, stranding 8 runners. The 'Birds few offensive bright spots came from outfielders Brian Barton and Shane Robinson, who each nabbed two hits apiece to go along with the team's lone RBI by Pagnozzi.
The Redbirds have the chance to avenge their loss when they face-off against the Cardinals in their second meeting, Saturday at 1:05 p.m. Slated to start for the Redbirds is right-hander Mitchell Boggs, who will be pitted against Cardinals ace Joel Pineiro in the match-up.