10/11/11 1:18 AM ET
No harm in Jackson's brief outing for Cards
Bats come through to ensure Game 2 starter can breathe easy
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Albert Pujols provided plenty of action with five RBIs, and the Cardinals' offense pounded out 17 hits in a 12-3 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park to gain a split in the first two games in the National League Championship Series.
Granted, it would have been an even better night for Jackson had he participated in more than 4 1/3 innings. Because he didn't go the requisite five frames, Jackson didn't factor into the decision. The win went to Lance Lynn, who bailed Jackson out by working Rickie Weeks into a disputed double-play grounder to end the fifth.
But Jackson could enjoy the way the night ended, and that's what counts.
"Overall it was good, because we got a win," Jackson said. "It's always tough to come out early when you have an offense that's scoring like that, but it's not always about a personal thing. It's a team game."
That's not to say Jackson didn't contribute.
Jackson, in his fifth career postseason game and second start, worked Jonathan Lucroy and Brewers pitcher Shaun Marcum into fly balls to end the second inning with two on base. After Prince Fielder doubled and Weeks homered to open the fourth, a wobbly Jackson made it through the frame with no further damage.
But like in Game 1, when Cards starter Jaime Garcia lost the lead and ultimately took the 9-6 loss because of three straight bad pitches in the fifth inning, Jackson quickly went from in control to needing to be rescued.
Jackson walked fifth-inning leadoff man Corey Hart, worked Nyjer Morgan into a fly ball, then gave up a ground-rule double to center to Ryan Braun. In a similar situation Sunday afternoon, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa let Garcia pitch to Fielder, who homered to give the Brewers a lead they never relinquished.
This time, La Russa pulled Jackson, who allowed two runs on seven hits over those 4 1/3 innings. Left-hander Arthur Rhodes walked Fielder on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases, but Lynn ended the inning with a first-pitch curveball to Weeks -- even though television replays showed that Weeks beat the relay throw to first, but didn't receive a favorable call from first-base umpire Sam Holbrook.
Jackson said had he not walked Hart to start the inning -- the only walk he allowed -- the Cardinals might not have been in such a difficult position.
"In this game, things happen quickly," Jackson said. "You never really want to start an inning off with a walk. It allows them to get a big hit like they did. Then you have a left-hander coming up, and obviously, Tony wanted a left-hander to pitch to him. You put yourself in that situation, it's kind of tough to be mad."
In Jackson's first postseason start, in Game 4 of the NL Division Series, he held the Phillies to two runs in six innings for a victory. This start was more of a learning experience, but at least it was a happy one.
"I had one walk and it led to a big inning," Jackson said. "For the most part, you just have keep the ball down and make pitches. I got out of some jams, but I had a tough night -- one to shake off and get ready for the next one."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.