Thompson, Reyes nail their roles
To offset the Cubs lovefest that goes on around here. Thompson, considered a temporary pitcher until the "real" pitchers show up, threw 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball against the defending NL champs. Cards move to 2-1 with a series win against the Rockies.
STLtoday - Thompson, Reyes nail their roles
The Cardinals' somewhat controversial decision to put Brad Thompson, more often than not a reliever, in the rotation and starter Anthony Reyes in the bullpen was golden on both counts Thursday.
Sinkerballer Thompson, who almost always pitches well against Colorado, shackled the Rockies on six hits and no runs for 6 2/3 innings as the Cardinals won the decisive game of their first series of the season at Busch Stadium, 3-0. Thompson struck out six and allowed just one fly-ball out.
"He pitched just like he did all spring," said manager Tony La Russa.
After veteran lefthander Ron Villone extricated Thompson from a mild seventh-inning scrape, Reyes entered in the eighth. He faced only three batters, who were all strikeout victims, including Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton. "It was a beautiful thing to see," said La Russa.
"You kept saying, 'Wow.' Three times," La Russa added. "And we didn't do him too many favors. Eighth inning of a close game and he has to face the top of the lineup.
"There was never a question of his toughness. His toughness is major-league plus, and he's shown that over and over again."
Jason Isringhausen finished up for his first save of the season.
Thompson, like Todd Wellemeyer, is thought by many to be a stopgap starter until the succession of hurlers led by Joel Pineiro, Mark Mulder, Matt Clement and Chris Carpenter comes back. But in three starts so far, Wellemeyer, Kyle Lohse and Thompson have given up only one run in 16 2/3 innings.
Yet, Thompson said, "It's still an audition every time I go out there."
For seven games against the hard-hitting Rockies in his career, Thompson has an ERA of 1.50, his lowest against any National League team, and a 2-0 record.
"This is the best I've seen him," said Colorado manager Clint Hurdle. "We took more funny swings today than we took against a righthander in a long time."
Matt Holliday, the 2007 league batting champion, who was 0 for three Thursday and one for 10 in the series, said, "(Thompson's) ball was sinking pretty good. Got a pretty good change-up. He pitched well, kept the ball down.
"Maybe I just (stunk) this week. They pitched me tough the first couple days. I got myself out a couple times. A lot of us would like to have better swings. It's cold. They pitched us tough. You've got a group that's not swinging the bats the way they want. It's a bad combination."
Thompson also gave the Cardinals some bonus coverage Thursday. Having worked on streamlining his move to first, he picked off Ryan Spilborghs after Spilborghs had led off the game with a single. Then, allowing that he was taken aback by the outcome, Thompson's fifth-inning single scored Ryan Ludwick for Thompson's first career run batted in.
In addition to the contributions of Villone, Reyes and Isringhausen, Thompson received offensive help from Troy Glaus, who drove in a run with his first two hits of the season, and Rick Ankiel, who singled in the other run.
Then there was the defensive combination of left fielder Skip Schumaker and catcher Jason LaRue.
Schumaker admittedly is pressing after starting out zero for 11 in his trial as the Cardinals' leadoff man. He has drawn three walks, one in each game, although he said, "I haven't done my job, as far as I'm concerned."
But after making a diving catch in Monday's game, which didn't count, Schumaker preserved the three-run lead by throwing out Helton at the plate in the sixth as Helton tried to score on Garrett Atkins' two-out single to reasonably deep left. LaRue made the play complete by drifting to the first-base side of the plate to receive the throw and then lunging back to tag Helton on the hand for the out.
"Unbelievable play," Thompson said. "All-round amazing. That was fun to watch from back (behind the plate)."
Schumaker said, "The better play was LaRue's. I threw it on the wrong side. He did all the rest."
Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.
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