Mark Mulder took on Royals ace Zack Greinke. Neither pitched particularly well, but Mulder was a tad better, going 5-2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and five walks. Brad Thompson pitched two innings of one-hit ball and Jason Isringhausen converted his tenth save in ten chances.
John Mabry was the star of the game, with three hits, including a double and a grand slam. He collected five RBI, one short of his career best, set way back in 1997. Albert Pujols also had three hits and scored twice. David Eckstein was on base three times, with two hits and a walk, but committed a two-run throwing error to make it close late.
Coming in, 11-3 is the Cards' recent record against the Royals. 12-29 is the Royals' MLB-worst record this season. Sweep, anyone?
Eckstein, Walker (dh), Pujols, Edmonds, Mabry (rf), Grudzielanek, Nunez (3b), Taguchi (lf) and Molina. Later in the game, Sanders relieved Walker at designated hitter.
On to the game…
Cards first – Mabry milestone
Eckstein singled, followed by a Walker double. After Albert struck out, things were looking down. But, Edmonds walked. John Mabry brought them all home with a grand slam, the first of his 12-year major-league career. Cards 4-0.
Cards second – RISP missed
Eckstein singled with two out and moved up on a wild pitch, but Walker ground out.
Cards third – More for Mabes
Pujols led off with a double and moved up on an Edmonds ground out. He scored on a double by Mr, Mabry. Cards 5-0.
Royals third – Coming back
Catcher John Buck had a decent chance at a lead-off triple, but conservatively stopped at second. Berroa walked and Tony Graffanino singled to load the bases. Sweeney shot a ball under Nunez' glove and it cleared the bases. Scott Rolen would have stopped that ball. A Molina passed ball moved Sweeney up to third. Mulder then walked light-hitting cleanup hitter Emil Brown, but Mulder escaped. Cards 5-3.
Cards fourth – Another RISP
Leading off, So Taguchi singled and moved up on an out, but he didn't advance beyond second.
Royals fourth – Minor issue
Buck singled with two out, but was stranded.
Cards fifth – Why stop?
Pujols singled to lead off the inning. He scored after Edmonds' ball got past Emil Brown in right. Joe Pettini, subbing for a flu-bound Jose Oquendo, tried to hold Albert, but he ran through the stop sign and easily scored. Cards 6-3.
Royals fifth – One back
Graffanino walked leading off. Sweeney slammed an 0-2 double into the left field corner. Only because the ball bounced over the wall did the Royals not get another. Emil Brown walked again to load the bases again. Dave Duncan came out to the mound again. The ball got away from Molina, but amazingly Graffanino didn't come home. Molina didn't notice that Sweeney was dead off second. All were safe. Graffanino did score on a double play. Cards 6-4.
Royals sixth – Thompson time
With two out, Mulder departed in favor of Brad Thompson, who retired Buck to end it. Buck had been two-for-two against Mulder, who left having thrown 100 pitches. Thompson also mowed them down in order in the seventh.
Cards eighth – One more
Against reliever and former Cub Andy Sisco, Nunez led off with a single and So sacrificed him to second. Molina's single past the second baseman, who had vacated his space to take a pickoff. Nunez came home. Cards 7-4.
Royals eighth – Ugly error costs two
Taguchi alligator-armed a fly by the leadoff man Brown, allowing him to take second. After fanning Matt Diaz for the second out, Thompson was relieved by Randy Flores. Flores allowed a single to Long to put runners on the corners. With two out, Eckstein made a poor throw to second on a force out. The errant throw allowed both runners to score. Al Reyes came in and escaped the jam. Cards 7-6.
Cards ninth – Izzy time
Jason Isringhausen came on to pitch the ninth. Nunez made a nice try to try to throw out Graffanino, but despite Pujols' great stretch, he was safe. However, an over-anxious Sweeney ground into a 6-3 double play on the next pitch. Emil Brown fanned looking to end it.
Upcoming action (times CDT)
Saturday @ Royals: Matt Morris vs. Jose Lima 6:10pm WB11
Sunday @ Royals: Jeff Suppan vs. Mike Wood 1:10pm WB11
Monday vs. Pittsburgh: Chris Carpenter vs. Kip Wells 7:10pm FSN Midwest
Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh: Jason Marquis vs. David Williams 7:10pm FSN Midwest
Wednesday vs. Pittsburgh: Mark Mulder vs. Mark Redman 7:10pm FSN Midwest
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.