08/02/08 12:32 AM ET
Izzy nails down Cards' win over Phils
Closer earns first save since May 5; Ludwick homers twice
By Lee Hurwitz / MLB.com
Several times they led in a save situation, prompting Isringhausen to warm up before the Redbirds tacked on enough runs to make it unnecessary for the closer to have a triumphant return.
But in a tight spot on a muggy evening against the red-hot Phillies, Isringhausen got his chance to reclaim his title as closer -- a position he has held throughout his 13 year career.
Isringhausen entered in the eighth for a four-out save that drew a standing ovation from a crowd of 44,234. Recording his first save since May 5 and 293rd of his career, Isringhausen sealed the Cardinals' fourth win in their past five games, beating the Phillies, 6-3.
"You take the quality of the opponent, the performance in the game and at home, where our fans are kind of waiting to see how it goes before giving him their tender love and care," manager Tony La Russa said, "I thought it was huge."
Inheriting Pat Burrell on first base, Isringhausen emphatically struck out Jayson Werth to end the eighth. He walked two batters in the ninth before coaxing Shane Victorino into a groundout to second base to end the game.
"Except for the walks, I was happy with everything," Isringhausen said. "I just got a little tired, I guess. But I got the outs that I needed when we needed them and we got a win."
It has been a long way back for Isringhausen, who spent time on the disabled list and lost his job to Ryan Franklin. But on a night built for star-studded performances, Isringhausen became one of the many Cardinals to bask in the spotlight.
Ryan Ludwick, a formerly embattled castaway, continued to shine in what has become his coming out party to everyone else in the Majors. Ludwick earned his fifth career multi-home run game against no easy opponent.
"I'm definitely a different hitter than when I was 25," Ludwick said. "I think with some experience, I'll be a different hitter when I'm 32.
"I think I had a lot of confidence coming into this year. I think that was the main issue for me -- proving to myself that I can play at this level."
Battling Cole Hamels in the fifth, Ludwick took advantage of a changeup for a solo home run. He added another solo shot three innings later off Ryan Madson for his 25th blast of the year.
On the heels of a disappointing loss in Atlanta, the Cardinals needed to back the Phillies into a corner. Sure enough, they did exactly that.
Kyle Lohse unconsciously rocked the Philadelphia hitters to sleep through his first five innings. At one point, Lohse retired 13 of 14 hitters and did not give up his first hit until Hamels singled with two outs in the fifth.
Aiding Lohse against one of the tougher pitchers in the game was rookie outfielder Joe Mather. With two runners on, Mather waited for his pitch and drove a fastball off Hamels into the Phillies' bullpen for a three-run shot. It was his fifth of the year and second since he was recalled from Triple-A Memphis on June 22.
"I think [Mather] is capable of hitting anywhere," La Russa said. "He's, boy, this is at least three years now that he's putting it together and at every classification. He's a very good all around player, that's another thing to his benefit."
Yadier Molina added a sacrifice fly in the third, and after Ludwick's home run, Lohse suddenly found himself backed by a 5-0 lead.
Primed for his 13th win of the season -- which puts him one short of tying a career high -- Lohse began to lose his control in the sixth. Lohse allowed back-to-back doubles, a two-run home run and another double before La Russa lifted him for Russ Springer.
"I felt good early," Lohse said. "Maybe threw too many pitches and wore myself out. But I was throwing good in those innings ... I got us through just enough tonight."
Handing the game to a bullpen that has blown 25 saves and lost 23 games with three-plus innings to go against one of the National League's best lineups, La Russa put his faith in his relievers and they did not disappoint.
Springer, rookie Jaime Garcia and Isringhausen combined for 3 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball. Garcia pitched 1 2/3 innings and gave up a walk in only his third big league appearance before setting the stage for Izzy.
But even though Isringhausen could finally celebrate for the first time in three months, the jubilation won't last for long.
"Well it's not over yet," Isringhausen said. "I've got to keep getting the job done or I won't be in that role. I realize that."
Lee Hurwitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.