Walton's Game Observations – Friday – Cards 6-0

The Cardinals came back strong after being shut out Thursday and returned the favor by defeating the Colorado Rockies 6-0 Friday night at Busch Stadium.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Colorado Rockies by a 6-0 score Friday night, tying the four-game weekend series at one game apiece. The Cardinals' overall record is back to 21 games over .500 at 50-29 while their National League Central lead over the Cubs grew to nine-and-one-half games.

Chris Carpenter took on Joe Kennedy. Carp collected his league-leading 12th win (along with Dontrelle Willis and Livan Hernandez), staking his claim for an All-Star Game selection and possible start. Carpenter fanned nine Rockies, while allowing just five hits and walking out two in 7-2/3 shutout innings. In the process, he lowered his season ERA to 2.60. Ray King and Julian Tavarez closed them out.

Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen led the offense with two hits and a walk each. It was great to see Rolen contribute again. Albert scored twice and drove in a pair. His solo shot in the first proved to be all the runs Carpenter needed. Later, Carp even drove in a run himself.

Friday's lineup – Outfield shuffle
Eckstein, Grudzielanek, Pujols, Sanders, Rolen, Walker, Taguchi (cf), Molina and Carpenter. Larry Walker back in, Jim Edmonds out as scheduled and So Taguchi over from right to center.

On to the game…

Rockies first – Big start for Carp
Carpenter fanned the first two hitters before apparently fanning Todd Helton, too. But, instead of a strikeout, it was a walk. Rolen made a nice barehanded defensive play on the third out.

Cards first – This is why he bats third
With two down, Albert slammed his 21st home run just inside the left field foul pole. Cards 1-0.

Cards second – One in one, two in two
Rolen led off with a walk and Walker was hit by a pitch. Then, So singled to right, collecting a very strange RBI. Rolen thought about coming home, but stopped after rounding third. When Brad Hawpe threw into second base instead of to the cut-off man, Rolen scampered home. Hungo blamed it on Hawpe being a rookie. Bull. He should know which player to throw to before making it to the majors. It was just a bad play. Molina singled to load the bases with one out. On a fielders' choice force-out at home by Carpenter, the catcher Ardoin never stepped on the plate and never tagged Walker, but Walker never touched the plate, either. No one paid any attention. So then scampered home on a wild pitch. Cards 3-0.

Cards third – Another baserunner
Rolen singled up the middle with two outs, but Walker grounded out.

Rockies fourth – Major threat rebuffed
Miles singled leading off the fourth. It was the Rockies' first hit of the night. Preston Wilson singled to right with one out to put the runners on the corners. Carpenter then walked Hawpe to load the bases, but he retired Desi Relaford to escape.

Cards fifth – Hawpe flashes leather
Eckstein singled leading off. With two outs, after making a bunch of throws over to first, Kennedy wild-pitched him to second. However, Hawpe made a great play, going into the seats to pull in the third out.

Rockies sixth – Another threat turned back
Carp made a diving play and threw to first from the seat of his pants, just missing getting Aaron Miles leading off. Helton singled. After a force out at third, a 6-4-3 double play ended the jam.

Cards sixth – Carp helps himself
Walker singled past the pitcher with one out. So followed with a walk. Molina dropped a single in to short right, loading the bases for Carpenter. His sac fly scored Walker and put runners on the corners with two down. Cards 4-0.

Cards seventh – Kennedy impeached
Pujols walked with one out. He aggressively took third base on a Sanders single to center. Rolen collected the RBI. Kennedy left office. Cards 5-0.

Rockies eighth – King over Helton
Eddy Garabito singled leading off. Ray King began to warm up. With one out, Eckstein bobbled a grounder, getting the lead runner. La Russa came out to get Carpenter, who left to a standing ovation. King did his job, fanning the Rockies' best hitter, Helton, for the third out.

Cards eighth – One more time
Pinch-hitter John Mabry doubled to right as Hawpe almost made another fine catch. Eckstein walked. Albert the RBI machine knew what to do. His two-out single to right scored Mabry. That's 66 RBI for Albert. Cards 6-0.

Rockies ninth – Tavarez tops
Julian Tavarez pitched the final inning, getting the Rockies 1-2-3 and ending it with a strikeout.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Saturday vs. Rockies: Jason Marquis vs. Jamey Wright 6:15pm FSNM
Sunday vs. Rockies: Mark Mulder vs. Jason Jennings 1:15pm WB11
Monday @ Diamondbacks: Matt Morris vs. Brandon Webb 5:10pm FSN Midwest
Tuesday @ Diamondbacks: Jeff Suppan vs. Shawn Estes 8:40pm FSNM
Wednesday @ Diamondbacks: Chris Carpenter vs. Javier Vazquez 9:10pm FSNM/ESPN2
Thursday @ Diamondbacks: Jason Marquis vs. Claudio Vargas 8:40pm FSNM

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

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