The St Louis Cardinals staved off elimination with a 5-3 victory over the visiting Philadelphia Phillies Wednesday, forcing a deciding Game Five in their National League division playoff series.
Cardinals third baseman David Freese drove in four runs on a two-run double in the fourth inning and a two-run home run in the sixth off Phillies starter and loser Roy Oswalt as they tied the best-of-five series at 2-2.
Bolstering the St Louis lineup was the return of left-fielder Matt Holliday, who had been sidelined with an inflamed tendon in his right middle finger. Holliday scored twice, after reaching on a base hit and a hit-by-pitch.
Freese welcomed Holliday back in the lineup.
When Matt Holliday is in our lineup it's a world of difference, said Freese. He's a beast. He's one of our big guys. He's a huge part of our success.
Holliday, for his part, enjoyed viewing Freese's heroics.
He had a fantastic game for us tonight, said Holliday. Getting a chance to watch him do that in a big situation like this was a lot of fun for me.
St Louis starter Edwin Jackson registered the win, giving up two runs on five hits in six innings with one walk and four strikeouts.
The Phillies, looking to reach the NL Championship Series (NLCS) for a fourth straight year, struck first, scoring two runs on hits from the first three batters of the game.
Jimmy Rollins led off with a ground rule double to center and scored on a triple to right by Chase Utley, who crossed home when No. 3 hitter Hunter Pence singled to center.
Jackson settled down after that and the Cardinals attack went to work, cutting their deficit in half in the bottom of the first when Lance Berkman doubled home Skip Schumaker.
St Louis took the lead in the fourth on a two-run double by David Freese down the left-field line that scored Berkman and Holliday.
The sixth inning proved pivotal, with a key fielding play by Albert Pujols holding the Phillies down in the top half.
Chase Utley drew a lead-off walk and when Hunter Pence followed with a hard hit grounder to short, Utley decided to carry on in a bold dash for third base after shortstop Rafael Furcal let loose his throw to first.
Alert first baseman Pujols moved forward to take the throw early, giving him time to gun the ball to third where Freese applied the tag on Utley.
His defense is great, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said about slugger Pujols. He's always got an awareness of what the score is, and that was classic, and that's part of his greatness. He plays the whole game in a great way.
In the bottom half of the inning, Freese struck again with the bat, belting an inside fastball onto the grassy bank beyond the center-field fence with Holliday aboard with two outs.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was asked after the game about Freese.
I don't have to say too much about David Freese, said Manuel. I think that he kind of won the game.
Scheduled starters for Friday's Game Five in Philadelphia are Roy Halladay (19-6) for the Phillies and Chris Carpenter (11-9), with the winning team advancing to the NLCS against either the Milwaukee Brewers or Arizona Diamondbacks.