Walton's Game Observations – Tuesday, May 3

Jason Marquis pitched eight-plus three-hit innings to lead the Cardinals over the Reds 4-2 Tuesday night.

The first-place St. Louis Cardinals assured a win of their weekday series against the Cincinnati Reds as they prevailed by the score of 4-2 Tuesday evening at the Great American Ball Park. The Cardinals' record is now 17-8 as they lead the division by five games over the Cubs and Brewers.

Jason Marquis took on Aaron Harang. Marquis had given up nine runs in his last two starts and 12-2/3 innings, so his winning performance was gratifying. Marquis allowed just three hits in just over eight innings in taking his fourth win of the season. He and four relievers were needed to escape the Reds threat in the ninth. Al Reyes got the final out for his second save of the season.

The timely hitting continued for the second straight night as the Cards scored the first two runs with two outs. Marquis and Reggie Sanders had two hits, each with a single and a double. Abraham Nunez also had two hits, including a home run. Sanders and Nunez split the RBIs two and two.

Timing is everything
Was there a game Monday? Seriously, the first game I miss all season and it was one of the more wild ones in recent memory. My brother-in-law called during the ninth inning just as I walked in the door from returning from Atlanta, so at least I got to see the end. In case you've been on Pluto, the Cardinals set a team record by coming back from a six-run deficit in the ninth inning. Coming in, they trailed the Reds 9-3, but ended up winning 10-9.

Never before
The Cardinals have been in existence since 1892, yet what happened Monday night in the ninth inning has never occurred. The Elias Sports Bureau confirmed the six-run comeback was the largest ninth inning come-from-behind win in franchise history.

Edmonds among elite
From Lee Sinins: Jim Edmonds passed Al Simmons and Greg Luzinski and tied Jeff Kent for 96th place on the all time HR list, with 308.

Womack moved
As part of a shakeup of the slumping New York Yankees lineup, former Cardinals second baseman Tony Womack has been shifted to left field. What versatility!

Albert's streaks continue
Albert Pujols hit in his 14th straight game and reached base in his 33rd consecutive regular season contest Tuesday night. Coming into Tuesday, he was hitting .400 (20-for-50) with three home runs during the streak. Pujols remains the only Cardinal to play in every game this season.

Pujols' pace
From Rob Blackstein at CREATiVESPORTS: Albert Pujols just might be getting better. If things stay as they are, he'll set a new career best with 56 doubles and will drive in 134 runs for another new mark. And while he's only headed for 70 walks (you'd have to assume, however, that as games begin to get more serious, he'll be pitched around more often), he will strike out just 49 times this year, his lowest ever.

Series last year
The Cardinals put up a 14-5 record against the Reds last season, which is their best record against a National League Central opponent. Of that, they had a 7-3 winning mark at Great American Ball Park. The two teams will face each other 16 times this season.

Big starts and big finishes
The Cardinals have already plated 18 first inning runs, topped only by their 21 ninth inning runs scored. In fact, the Cards have outscored the opposition 21-to-1 in ninth inning scoring this year.

We need more clutch
Coming into Tuesday, the Cardinals have left runners on base in 30 of their 36 innings played on the current road trip, stranding 39 runners, including 13 in Sunday's loss to the Braves.

Tuesday's lineup – Two regulars out
Eckstein, Nunez (3B), Pujols, Edmonds, Sanders (RF), Mabry (LF), Grudzielanek, Molina and Marquis. Scott Rolen missed his second straight game due to pain in his upper back which began during his second at-bat Sunday. Rolen was also 1-for-12 against Harang for his career. Larry Walker also sat out with a groin strain. Nunez got the start as he came into the game with a .407 career mark in 27 at-bats at Great American.

On to the game…

Cards first –Albert again
Albert Pujols singled with two out in the inning, but Edmonds fanned swinging.

Reds first – Griffey on and off
With one out, Griffey was walked, but was erased in a double play.

Reds second – Molina pickoff
To lead off the inning, Austin Kearns singled. Adam Dunn walked, but was picked off first by Yadier Molina. Two more outs quickly followed.

Cards third – Marquis the hitter
After a one-out single by Marquis, Eckstein ground into a double play to end the inning.

Reds third – Another harmless walk
With two outs, Ryan Freel represented Marquis' third walk of the game. He was forced out by Griffey.

Cards fourth – More Albert
Albert singled past short with one out. He seemed to hold his side after a big swing and miss earlier in the at-bats, as if he may have pulled a muscle. But, Pujols must be ok, as he stole second base with two out and scored on a bloop single to left by Sanders. It was his 12th RBI of the season and fourth in seven days after going the entire previous week without one. Reggie stole second on the next pitch to get into scoring position for Mabry, who walked. But, Grudz lined out to the pitcher. Cards 1-0.

Reds fourth – Battle with Dunn Won
After going 3-0 on Adam Dunn, Marquis got him on the tenth pitch of the at-bat. It was a fly ball to the fence in deepest left-center hauled in by Edmonds for the third out.

Cards fifth – Another two out run
With two down, Eckstein doubled on a ball that just eluded Dunn's glove. Nunez' line-drive single to center brought him home. Cards 2-0.

Reds sixth – Molina stars again
Ryan Freel was hit by a Marquis pitch on the left hand with one out, but Molina easily threw out the speedy Freel trying to steal second. Good thing, as Griffey singled on the next pitch. Molina has thrown out 12 off 22 runners trying to steal against him in his short career.

Cards seventh – Handing it back
In what may or may not have been a surprising coincidence, the first Cardinals hitter, Mark Grudzielanek, was hit by a Harang pitch on the hand, just like Freel was the previous frame. Molina bunted him forward and he took third on a fly to deep center by Marquis, but that was it.

Reds seventh – Grudz strikes back
Grudz made a great slide and throw from his knees on the third base side of second to retire Kearns leading off. Albert also made a nice catch and stretch.

Cards eighth – Sanders career milestones
On the first pitch of the inning by reliever Joe Valentine, Nunez homered over Kearns' head in right on a ball that just made it over the wall. Edmonds walked. Sanders collected his 300th career double and career hit #1500 as Edmonds scored. Mabry walked and avoided a double play on a force out by Grudz. Molina easily bounced out on the first pitch he saw. Cards 4-0.

Cards ninth – Marquis: Two hits allowed and two hits made
As he was cruising, despite having thrown 111 pitches, Marquis was allowed to bat first. His double was smacked off the outfield wall for his second hit of the night. Eckstein bunted him over, but neither Nunez nor Albert could get him in.

Reds ninth – Five pitchers for three outs
When Freel singled to lead off the ninth, Marquis was lifted. Ray King then walked Junior Griffey. Albert couldn't handle Casey's line shot and King was late covering the bag. King picked up the throw he dropped and almost threw wild to third as a run scored. With runners on the corners, King exited in favor of Julian Tavarez. He fanned Kearns looking on a full-count change-up. Randy Flores was called in to get Dunn, but walked him. Joe Randa worked Flores for ten pitches before he flew out to Edmonds, but another run scored on a sac fly. Al Reyes retired D'Angelo Jimenez, who represented the winning run, to end the game. Cards 4-2.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Wednesday at Reds: Mark Mulder vs. Brandon Claussen 6:10 pm FSN Midwest/ESPN
Thursday vs. Padres: Matt Morris vs. Brian Lawrence 7:10pm FSN Midwest
Friday vs. Padres: Jeff Suppan vs. Woody Williams 7:10pm FSN Midwest
Saturday vs. Padres: Chris Carpenter vs. Adam Eaton 1:15pm FSN Midwest
Sunday vs. Padres: Jason Marquis vs. Tim Redding 1:15pm WB11

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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