Cardinals-Cubs: Ludwick's Heroics Fall Short as Bullpen Implodes

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IApril 17, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 17: Ryan Ludwick #47 of the St. Louis Cardinals runs the bases after hitting a three-run home run in the third inning against the Chicago Cubs on April 17, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Ryan Ludwick certainly is no fluke.

The 30-year-old outfielder proved just how potent his bat can be on Friday as the Cardinals lost a nail-biter 8-7 to the Chicago Cubs.

The All-Star slugger hit a pair of homers off Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano in the third and seventh innings and finished the day with four RBI. He did strike out twice though, including a critical at-bat in the ninth inning against Carlos Marmol.

The Cardinals couldn't have been given a better opportunity to re-gain the lead as they had runners at first and second base with no outs. Rookie Colby Rasmus walked and slugger Albert Pujols was drilled with a slider in the elbow.

Ludwick's heroics could only go so far as he chased a high 93-mph fastball from Marmol. The rest of the game is history.

Zambrano, who has horrid numbers against St. Louis, lasted seven innings but gave up nine hits and seven earned runs. The Redbirds continued to use his pitching style as a band box for their offense.

As is the norm at Wrigley Field, offense for both teams played a key role. As great a day Ludwick had for the Cardinals, Chicago's Alfonso Soriano proved how clutch he can be.

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It was the bottom of the eighth inning and flamethrower Chris Perez was called upon to try and shut down the Cubs' potent offense. It has been no secret that manager Tony La Russa did not think too highly of Perez in terms of taking over the closer's duties.

So the eighth inning was his to prove his worth, which turned out to be no more than a penny with a hole in it.

Soriano drilled Perez's slider into the bleachers to give the Cubs the lead.

Perhaps the Redbirds shouldn't have let Aaron Miles go, as he was on base when Perez coughed up yet another lead in his young career.

With pitching ace Chris Carpenter out for nearly two months with a torn oblique muscle, P. J. Walters was called upon as a spot starter. The young 23-year-old had a rocky first couple of innings but settled down for the next two as he struck out seven batters but gave up three earned runs. 

Three runs is not something a major league ball club couldn't overcome, so the game was anyone's to grab.

Insert St. Louis' bullpen.

Trevor Miller turned in one inning pitched while giving up two earned runs on three hits. Mitchell Boggs, recently recalled from the minors, gave up yet another run.

The day was capped off with Perez surrendering the two-run homer to Soriano to earn the blown save and the loss.

The season is young and there is much more baseball left to play. However, you cannot win championships by out-slugging the entire league. St. Louis needs their own "sandman."


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