Phillies ace Roy Halladay gave it his best shot, battling his old friend Chris Carpenter in a duel for the ages. In the end, Carpenter won the battle, tossing a three-hitter and giving up zero runs, while Halladay gave up six hits and one run.
The wild-card Cardinals hit the Phils early in the first inning, when Rafael Furcal led off with a triple followed by a double by Skip Schumaker. It was all the Cards got the entire night, and it ended up being all they needed.
One run wouldn't seem enough against a lineup that features seven regulars who've been All-Stars. But nearly everyone except Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino struggled.
Phils fans in the parking lot before the game talked about trying to unnerve Carpenter the way they famously did to Burt Hooton in Game 3 of the 1977 NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers at old Veterans Stadium.
They certainly played their part Friday night, making plenty of noise and waving their white-and-red rally towels. But in the end, Carpenter never flinched.
After Victorino lined a one-out double in the second, Carpenter retired Raul Ibanez on a foul pop and Placido Polanco on a grounder.
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The Phillies had runners on first and third with two outs in the fourth, but Ibanez flied out to the warning track in right field.
Carpenter allowed a one-out single to Utley in the sixth, but Molina threw him out trying to steal second. Carpenter pumped his fist and hollered at Molina, who became the first catcher to nail Utley stealing this season. Utley had been 14 for 14, and 56 for 58 dating back to 2009.
Furcal made an outstanding play to rob Ruiz of a hit in the eighth, diving to his left on a grounder up the middle and throwing the catcher out.
Carpenter was over 100 pitches when he took the mound in the ninth. He retired Chase Utley on a fly to the warning track in center and got Hunter Pence on a grounder.
Up next was Ryan Howard. He continued his postseason woes, grounding out to end the game and injuring his Achilles tendon coming out of the batter’s box. He will undergo an MRI on Saturday.
As he limped a few steps and then crumpled to the ground, the Cardinals celebrated as the stunned crowd looked on in silence.
It was certainly an amazing season for the Phils. The team won their fifth straight National League East title as well as a club-record 102 games. Yet after Friday night’s loss, one painful reality remains; none of these things really matter.
With all the hype going into the season, nothing less than another World Series championship is acceptable. Everyone expected the Phils to win it all and this season will certaily be considered a disappointment.
But cheer up Phils fans. As the old cliche goes, there's always next year. And with all the talent that remains on this team, the Phils are certainly more than capable of winning the big one next time around.
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