PHOENIX -- In a masterful duel in the desert, Curt Schilling put on a dazzling playoff performance.
Schilling pitched a three-hitter in his first postseason appearance in eight years as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat Matt Morris and the St. Louis Cardinals 1-0 Tuesday night in the opener of their first-round NL playoff series.
Steve Finley was 3-for-4, including a two-out, RBI single in the fifth inning after Arizona had squandered scoring threats in the first and fourth.
Randy Johnson, the second half of Arizona's pair of aces, goes to the mound Wednesday in Game 2 against the Cardinals' Woody Williams.
Schilling improved to 2-1 in the postseason in five starts with two complete games and a 2.45 ERA.
He earned his reputation as a big-game pitcher with Philadelphia as the MVP of the 1993 NL championship series. After the best regular season of his career, the 34-year-old right-hander showed he has improved with age.
In a matchup of the season's winningest pitchers, Schilling baffled batters with a fastball that hit 97 mph, a split-finger fastball and a few slow curves. He struck out nine and walked one.
Edgar Renteria got two of the hits, a leadoff single in the third and a one-out double in the fourth.
Jim Edmonds, whose spectacular catch robbed Luis Gonzalez of at least an extra-base hit in the fifth inning, doubled with one out in the seventh. But Schilling got Mark McGwire to ground out, then struck out Renteria to end that threat.
A throwing error by shortstop Tony Womack put Fernando Vina on second with two outs in the eighth, but Reggie Sanders caught Placido Polanco's sharp liner at his ankles in right field to end the inning.
Schilling and Morris both won 22 games this year, and they lived up to their star billing.
Morris, making his first playoff appearance at age 27, allowed one run and six hits, three of them doubles, before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the eighth. He struck out six, walked two and, in what turned out to be a crucial play, hit one batter.
He grazed leadoff batter Damian Miller with a pitch in the fifth inning, then Schilling put down a sacrifice bunt with two strikes to move the runner to second.
After Womack flied to left for the second out, Finley lined a shot up the middle to drive in Miller from second.
Gonzalez nearly added to the damage with a fly to deep right- center, but Edmonds made a leaping grab at the top of the fence in front of the swimming pool to end the inning.
In all, Arizona stranded 11 batters.
Two-out singles by Womack and Finley put runners at first and third in the seventh, but McGwire, aching knee and all, made a diving stop of Gonzalez's grounder and crawled to first for the out.
The Diamondbacks stranded four runners in the first four innings, three of in scoring position with less than two outs.
With one out in the fourth, Sanders doubled into the left-field corner, his first hit off Morris in nine at-bats. Sanders made a wide turn at second, and left fielder Albert Pujols fired the ball to try to pick him off. But the throw hit Sanders in the back and bounced into short right field, allowing the runner to advance to third.
Mark Grace walked, Matt Williams struck out for the second time, then Craig Counsell grounded out to first, leaving Sanders stranded.
Morris appeared nervous at the start. He walked Womack on four pitches, then Finley bounced a double through the infield down the right field line to put runners at second and third with no outs. But Gonzalez struck out, Sanders fouled out and Grace bounced out to first.
Notes: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa went with 12 pitchers on his 25-man roster because he wanted another lefty available for an Arizona team loaded with left-handed batters. ... Morris allowed just 13 home runs in the regular season, compared with Schilling's 37, tied for most in the NL. ... The teams had not played since April 18. ... McGwire was 0-for-3 and struck out twice. In his career against Schilling, McGwire is 4-for-21, with all four hits home runs.
© 2016. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us