ST. LOUIS — Big swings by a slumping hitter, clutch innings by a journeyman pitcher. Suddenly, the Cardinals are looking very dangerous.
As for the Phillies? Things have turned downright squirrelly.
David Freese, shut down by Philadelphia's aces the first three games, became a hometown star Wednesday night. He homered, doubled and drove in four runs as St. Louis defeated nemesis Roy Oswalt and forced a deciding fifth game in their NL Division Series by beating the Phillies 5-3.
"This is what you worked for," said Freese, a St. Louis-area prep star who came to the Cardinals in a trade for Jim Edmonds after the 2007 season. "Just to do this in front of the fans of St. Louis and a bunch of friends and family, it's amazing."
Centerfielder Jon Jay made a sliding catch on Placido Polanco's soft fly for the final out and was already pointing his index finger before he got to his feet.
"We're not looking at this like we're just happy to be here and it's David and Goliath," Cardinals slugger Lance Berkman said.
Now it's back to Philadelphia for Game 5 on Friday night.
"Might be fitting that it goes down to the fifth game," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's up to us to go get it."
The 102-win Phillies were picked by many to win it all. First they must dispose of the wild-card Cardinals, who clinched a playoff spot on the last day of the season and have gotten the best of two members of Philadelphia's star-studded rotation.
An omen, maybe: Right after Oswalt threw a pitch in the fifth, a squirrel darted across the plate.
Oswalt argued, unsuccessfully, that the creature's dash had distracted him on a pitch called a ball.
"I didn't want to stop in the middle of my motion, so I threw it," Oswalt said. "I was wondering what size of animal it needed to be for it not to be a pitch."
Manuel argued, to no avail.
"Of course, being from the South and being a squirrel hunter, if I had a gun there, might have did something," Manuel said. "I'm a pretty good shot."
Albert Pujols was 0-for-4 in what could have been his final home game with the Cardinals. He received thunderous cheers every time up from a standing-room crowd of 47,071.
Former Ray Edwin Jackson gave up two runs on his first five pitches but wound up pitching six solid innings to win his first playoff start. He outdueled Oswalt, who had been 5-0 with a 3.25 ERA in 10 postseason starts, the biggest closing out old Busch Stadium and the Cardinals in 2005 to get Houston to its first World Series.
"It's good to get some early runs, for sure," Oswalt said. "I felt pretty comfortable after that. Just two bad pitches."