Oswalt fails to come up aces, Phils go to Game 5

JIM SALTER - Associated Press
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Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Oswalt throws during the first inning of Game 4 of baseball's National League division series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Roy Oswalt seemed all set to close out the Cardinals. He had an early lead, had won big games in St. Louis and had never lost a postseason start.

So much for all that history.

David Freese homered, doubled and drove in four runs as the Cardinals roughed up Oswalt and beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 Wednesday night, forcing a deciding fifth game in their NL playoff series.

Roy Halladay, who won the opener for Phillies, will face Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter.

"It might be fitting that it goes down to a fifth game," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson gave up two runs on his first five pitches, then shut down the Phillies over six innings. Jason Motte pitched a perfect ninth for his second save of the series.

It was a rare struggle at Busch Stadium for Oswalt, who was often dominant in St. Louis in his many years in Houston. Oswalt gave up five runs and six hits in six innings. He walked one batter and hit another, and they both scored.

Oswalt lamented squandering the early lead.

"It's good to get some early runs for sure," he said. "I felt pretty comfortable after that — just two bad pitches."

The last time Oswalt pitched in the postseason in St. Louis was for Houston in Game 6 of the 2005 NL championship series. Two days after Albert Pujols hit a monster homer off Brad Lidge to send that series back to St. Louis, Oswalt allowed just one run over seven innings in the 5-1 win that sent the Astros to their only World Series.

That victory came in the final game at the old Busch Stadium. He was 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in that series.

In fact, Oswalt won his first five postseason decisions, but has lost his last two — in relief in the 2010 NLCS against San Francisco, and Wednesday.

The right-hander also worked seven shutout innings against St. Louis in the Phillies' NL East division clincher in mid-September.

The Phillies scored two in the first on a double by Jimmy Rollins, a triple by Chase Utley and a single by Hunter Pence. But the inning fizzled when Pence was thrown at second in a close play on an attempted steal.

The Cardinals got one back in the bottom of the inning when Lance Berkman's two-out double scored Skip Schumaker. They took the lead in the fourth when Oswalt walked Berkman, hit Matt Holliday on the right elbow and gave up Freese's two-run double down the left-field line.

Freese made it 5-2 in the sixth with a two-out homer over the center-field wall that scored Holliday, who had singled.

"Oswalt was throwing the ball really, really well, and you get four runs on two swings," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

Freese was 2 for 13 with seven strikeouts before the double and homer.

"You go up against this staff, you're going to have to grind it out and you're not always going to have the best night, but tonight worked out," he said.

Ryan Howard struggled again for the Phillies, going hitless in eight at-bats in the two games in St. Louis with five strikeouts, including three in the latest loss. His final strikeout came in the eighth when he represented the tying run after a wild pitch by Fernando Salas trimmed St. Louis' lead to 5-3.

"The last couple days he's having trouble tracking the ball, staying on the ball," Manuel said of Howard, who is 2 for 15 (.133) for the series. "When he does that, usually he struggles."

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.

"There's not too much I can do about a squirrel running across the field," Manuel said. "Of course, being from the South and being a squirrel hunter, if I had a gun there, might have did something. I'm a pretty good shot."

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 Utley going for an extra base in the sixth. Utley drew a leadoff walk and kept running on Pence's grounder to shortstop, but Pujols alertly jumped off first base to catch the throw and made a sharp relay to third.

Game 5 will showcase two pitchers who were once teammates with the Blue Jays, and who have both been successful in the postseason. Halladay is 3-1 in four postseason games with a 2.70 ERA, including the Game 1 win over St. Louis when he gave up a three-run homer to Berkman in the first but retired the last 21 hitters.

Carpenter struggled in Game 2, lasting just three innings while giving up four runs, but he was pitching on three days' rest for the first time in his career. He is 5-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 10 career postseason games.

"It's nice to be going back home playing in front of our home fans with Roy on the mound," Utley said. "I like our chances."

NOTES: 2B Schumaker was taken out with a left hamstring cramp after a flyout in the fifth — the same at-bat the squirrel made its appearance. After disrupting play, the squirrel scampered through the stands. Schumaker is 5 for 8 in the series. ... Rollins doubled and had an infield hit his first two trips and has nine hits in the series. He has 14 multihit games in the playoffs, passing Howard for most in franchise history.