Mark Mulder took on Ramon Ortiz. The Reds' heavily-skewed lefty lineup ripped Mulder up and down. Mulder had season worsts in hits allowed (12) and runs allowed (seven) in just four innings and got what he deserved, his fifth loss of the season. Adam Dunn led the way with two home runs and it went down hill from there.
Ortiz, who came into the game with a 6.51 ERA and having allowed 20 earned runs in his last four starts, held the vaunted Cards offense without a hit until the fifth inning. Ortiz had one win in his previous seven starts and two all season before Wednesday. Losing to Randy Johnson is one thing. Ramon Ortiz is something entirely different. And it isn't pretty.
On the positive side, the bullpen allowed just two baserunners in four scoreless innings, but that wasn't enough. Unlike the previous night, when the Cardinals offense took the end of the game off, on Wednesday they didn't get started until the latter innings, yet still had a decent chance to win. Abraham Nunez had two hits and a run scored. Mark Grudzielanek had a solo home run. Not much else went well.
Wednesday's lineup – Another new position for Seabol
Eckstein, Edmonds, Pujols, Sanders, Walker, Grudzielanek, Nunez (3b), Molina and Mulder. Scott Rolen took a planned day off. Jim Edmonds returned from his rib injury. Larry Walker came back after missing two games.
On to the game…
Reds first – Lead taken
With one out, Rich Aurilia and Sean Casey singled. Joe Randa's two-out RBI single scored the first run. For the second game in a row, the Reds score one in the first. In between, Mulder struck out the side. Reds 1-0.
Cards second – Never mind
Sanders walked on four pitches and Walker also drew a free pass, making a promising start. Then, it fell apart. Grudz lined out and Nunez ground into a double play.
Reds second – Two-out trouble
Adam Dunn homered to center while leading off. Jason LaRue followed with a double. He got to third with two outs. Aurila's RBI single scored LaRue. Casey singled and Junior Griffey's double cleared the bases. Randa took a free pass before Wily Mo Pena fanned to finally end it. Reds 5-0.
Reds third – Two more
For the second inning in a row, Adam Dunn led off with a home run. This time, it was to right. LaRue singled and Ortiz doubled. It is time to pull Mulder. Please. No such luck as Aurilia singled with one out to score another. This game feels lost again. Reds 7-0.
Cards fourth – Mowing them down
Sanders walked with two outs. Didn't matter. No hits yet. Making Ortiz look like Johan Santana.
Cards fifth – A decent rally
Grudz homered to left leading off. Nunez' infield single put him on and he took third on a Molina double. Mulder was pulled for pinch-hitter Scott Seabol, who didn't move the runners up. Nunez scored on an Eckstein out to deep short. Molina took third on the play and scored on an Edmonds' single. Good to see him back. Wish Albert could have scored two more, but it didn't happen. Reds 7-3.
Cards seventh – Finally nothing
Nunz reached via a lead-off single but Molina;s double play ended the threat almost before it started. After two spotless innings, Al Reyes left for pinch-hitter So Taguchi. May as well of had Reyes hit.
Reds seventh – King kabong
With Ray King on the mound, Pena collected a two-out walk. He was stranded.
Cards eighth – Not enough
For being the closer of the future, Ryan Wagner has looked awful. He hit Eckstein with a pitch and walked Edmonds. Albert stroked an RBI single. With David Weathers in, Reggie Sanders singled to load the bases. Here we go. Walker ground into a fielders choice at second, by Felipe Lopez' errant throw allowed Albert to come in. However, with a chance to take the lead, Grudz and Nunez failed. Reds 7-6.
Reds eighth – Bend, but not break
Julian Tavarez made it interesting. It was no coincidence that he hit Jacob Cruz with a pitch following another LaRue double. However, as he usually does, Tavarez focused and got his three outs with no damage.
Cards ninth – Close, but…
With one out, pinch-hitter John Mabry singled. He was forced out by Eckstein. Weathers was pulled for former Cardinal Kent Mercker, who did his job fanning Edmonds swinging to get the 27th out and collect the save.
Upcoming action (times CDT)
Thursday vs. Pirates: Matt Morris vs. David Williams 7:10 pm FSNM
Friday vs. Pirates: Jeff Suppan vs. Kip Wells 7:10 pm FSNM
Saturday vs. Pirates: Chris Carpenter vs. Mark Redman 6:15 pm WB11
Sunday vs. Pirates: Jason Marquis vs. Oliver Perez 1:15 pm WB11
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.