Boooo. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The Marlins sent their ace Josh Johnson to the mound in their finale with the Cardinals Thursday afternoon, so it wasn't a far-fetched idea to think the Fish were in position to take a third win in the 4-game series. But at the end of the afternoon, the Cards' lineup (and more specifically Berkman and Holliday) overpowered JJ and led to an even split of the series.
Josh wasn't his normal beastly self Thursday, but he managed to hold the Cardinals to two runs through seven innings. The Cards took an early lead on three consecutive one-out singles in the first. Hits by Colby Rasmus and Albert Pujols put runners at the corners for Matt Holliday, who singled to drive in the first run of the game.
While Josh labored to keep the Marlins in the game, Jake Westbrook kept the Marlins lineup in check, and didn't allow a hit through the first four innings. In the fifth, the Fish made up for lost time and took the lead with four consecutive two-out singles by Greg Dobbs, John Buck, Omar infante and JJ himself.
The Marlins held their 2-1 lead until the bottom of the sixth when a leadoff walk to Rasmus, who eventually came around to score, resulted in a tie ballgame. The Fish would get that run back in the top of the seventh and take a 3-2 lead when Buck doubled and Infante (who was 2 for 3 with 2 RBI in the game) singled him home.
You can't really blame Josh for wanting to pitch the eighth, or the Marlins for letting him, especially after the bullpen blew the lead in his last start. But the Cardinals would score four runs on four hits in the inning, and take a three-run lead.
St. Louis tied up the game the exact same way that they got on the board in the first, with three consecutive one-out singles by Rasmus, Pujols, and Holliday. That was it for Josh Johnson, and Mike Dunn came out of the bullpen to face Lance Berkman. Berkman took the first pitch deep to make it 6-3, Cards.
JJ was charged with five runs on eight hits in his 7 1/3 innings. He walked four and struck out 7, and raised his teeny ERA all the way up to 1.68.
So the Fish dropped the series finale, and settled for a split with St. Louis.