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Padres stave off elimination, beat Cards in Game 3

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The San Diego Padres got the ball to Trevor Hoffman, and baseball's career saves leader did the rest.

Chris Young shut down the Cardinals' offense for 6 2/3 innings,
Russell Branyan's two-run double gave the NL West champions their
first lead of the series and the Padres beat San Diego 3-1
Saturday, pulling to 2-1 in their NL playoff.

Stopping the Cardinals from sweeping the Padres in the first
round for the second straight year, San Diego got Hoffman on the
mound for the first time this week.

"Anytime he comes into a game," San Diego's Mike Cameron said,
"that's a real good sign for us."

St. Louis sends ace Chris Carpenter to the mound in Game 4 on
Sunday, when the Padres will try to force the series back to San
Diego for a fifth game Monday.

"I think Chris is as good as anybody in baseball," Cardinals
manager Tony La Russa said. "So I always think we have a chance, a
good chance. It's a game we hoped not to play."

Woody Williams, who got knocked out in the second inning in Game
3 last year, will start for the Padres. Game 1 loser Jake Peavy
would go in Game 5.

"Probably as much as having confidence in Woody, we think Jake
could use another day," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's pitched a
lot down the stretch, and we're in a situation where we need to win
two games."

Carpenter will be made his third straight start against the
Padres, including his final regular-season outing.

"No matter what game it is and how many times you've seen them,
the goal is to execute pitches and execute your game plan,"
Carpenter said. "If you can do that you'll have success. If you
don't, you won't."

Williams won 18 games for the Cardinals in 2002 and was their
Game 1 World Series starter in 2004.

"It's going to be fun," he said. "I can't get too emotional
about it."

San Diego was 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position in the
series before Branyan's fourth-inning hit off loser Jeff Suppan put
the Padres ahead 2-0. Geoff Blum followed with a sacrifice fly.

Young, a 6-foot-10 right-hander, was the NL's best road starter,
going 6-0 with a 2.41 ERA. Making his first postseason appearance,
the 27-year-old allowed four hits, walked two and struck out nine,
fanning Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen twice each. He is 9-0 in 24
road outings dating to June 25, 2005.

"I don't think he's difficult to hit," Pujols said. "I saw
the ball good, but I chased some bad pitches, and when you chase
bad pitches you actually make the guy difficult."

Alan Embree finished the seventh, Scott Linebrink allowed an
eighth-inning homer to pinch-hitter So Taguchi and Hoffman finished
the five-hitter with a perfect ninth for his fourth postseason
save.

Bochy had been 0-8 against the Cardinals in the playoffs, with
his team also getting swept in 1996.

"No getting away from it, they've had their way with us,"
Bochy said. "We're hearing 'Who's your Padre?' There's a real
sense of relief to finally win a game against these guys in the
playoffs. it took a well-pitched game."

Hoffman led the NL with 46 saves this season and set the career
record with 482, passing Lee Smith. He pitched only one inning in
last year's series against St. Louis.

"It felt good to finally get out there," Hoffman said.
"Everything was working for me."

San Diego won despite stranding a division series-record 14 and
going 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position, leaving the Padres
at 1-for-25 in the series. San Diego scored one run in losing the
first two games at home.

Pujols, who had five hits in the first two games, was 0-for-4
with two strikeouts and a double-play grounder. The second
strikeout came with runners on first and second for the second out
in the sixth, and Jim Edmonds followed with a flyout to the wall in
left.

Suppan escaped a second-and-third, no-outs jam in the first when
Brian Giles hit a comebacker, Dave Roberts hit into a forceout at
the plate and catcher Yadier Molina picked off Mike Piazza at
first.

San Diego went ahead when Adrian Gonzalez singled with one out
in the fourth, Cameron walked and Branyan drove the ball into the
right-field corner. Branyan took third on the throw, with second
baseman Ronnie Belliard leaping and then stumbling to retrieve the
off-line relay from right fielder Juan Encarnacion, and scored on
Blum's fly.

Taguchi, who homered only twice in 316 at-bats during the
regular season, homered leading off the eighth and Chris Duncan
walked with one out. But with the crowd of 46,634 chanting
"M-V-P!" Pujols grounded into a double play.

Seven pitches by Hoffman, and the Padres were celebrating. But
it was muted.

"We're not going to get excited just yet," reliever Alan
Embree said. "We've still got a lot of work to do."

Game notes
Roberts, 7-for-11 against Suppan during the regular season
in his career, singled in all three at-bats against him. ...
Cardinals Hall of Fame SS Ozzie Smith threw out the ceremonial
first pitch. ... Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock, making his first
appearance since a lower abdominal injury on Sept. 28, escaped a
bases-loaded situation in the fifth to keep the deficit at 3-0.