The St. Louis Cardinals are National League champions and World Series contenders Sunday night, after a wild Home Run Derby opening from both teams turned into one more brilliant outing from the Cardinals' infamous bullpen and the Redbirds held down the Milwaukee Brewers 12-6.
The Cardinals got on the board early, with Lance Berkman singling to score Jon Jay and David Freese homering to drive in three runs and make it 4-0 after the top of the first. But it was immediately apparent that four runs wouldn't be enough: Corey Hart homered to lead off the game for the Brewers, and after Rafael Furcal made it 5-1 with a homer of his own the Brewers cut the lead to 5-4 in the bottom of the second.
Then, as it had been the entire series, it came down to the bullpen. Despite a series that saw them thrown constantly into early-inning situations the visibly tired relievers of the Cardinals' revamped bullpen locked things down one more time. Fernando Salas and Marc Rzepczynski each went two innings to get the ball to Octavio Dotel, who continued to have Ryan Braun's number; Lance Lynn; and Jason Motte, who went the entire series without allowing an earned run.
The back and forth continued throughout, but the Cardinals found themselves in their strongest position of the night when Albert Pujols homered and Allen Craig hit a squib grounder through the box to increase their lead to 9-4. The scoring didn't end until the eighth inning, when Albert Pujols drove in pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso to make the score 12-6.