Walton's Game Observations – Sunday – Cards 5-4

The Cardinals salvaged a split of the four-game home series, shading the Colorado Rockies 5-4 Sunday afternoon.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Colorado Rockies by a 5-4 score Sunday afternoon with a dramatic run in the bottom of the ninth. The Cardinals' overall record is back to 21 games over .500 at 51-30 while their National League Central lead over the Cubs grew to ten-and-one-half games.

Mark Mulder took on Jason Jennings. Mulder struggled, allowing three homers in three innings and 11 baserunners during his six innings pitched. But, the Cards stayed close enough due to three shutout innings of bullpen work by Al Reyes, Julian Tavarez and eventual winner Ray King.

The offense never enjoyed a lead until the winning run scored. Larry Walker had a pair of infield hits and scored twice. Scott Rolen was on base four times with two hits, a walk and a hit by pitch. Albert Pujols had two singles, but the game-winning hit came off the bat of Abraham Nunez in the bottom of the ninth.

Sunday's lineup – Eck off, Sanders out
Nunez, Edmonds, Pujols, Walker, Rolen, Grudzielanek, Taguchi (lf), Molina and Mulder. David Eckstein received a scheduled day off as Mark Grudzielanek returned. Reggie Sanders missed his second game with an ankle sprain.

On to the game…

Rockies first – Mohr pain for Mulder
An outfielder I wanted the Cards to sign last off-season, Dustan Mohr, homered to dead center. Preston Wilson singled with two out, but was stranded. Rockies 1-0.

Rockies second – Groundhog day
Another bomb was placed in deep center, as Luis Gonzalez hit his fourth career home run leading off. Boos were audible. Mulder followed with a walk to the dangerous Desi Relaford (sarcasm intended). Nunez made a nice play, retiring Relaford at second on a grounder by Danny Ardoin. Mulder should have fielded the ball and started a double play. Rockies 2-0.

Cards second – Even Steven
Walker legged out a chopper leading off. Rolen's first-pitch double scored Walker. So singled to put runners at the corners. Molina's ground out to the right side scored the tying run. So moved up to third on a wild pitch. Didn't matter. Tie 2-2.

Rockies third – Three in three
With two down, Preston Wilson hit the Rockies' third solo shot in three innings. This one landed in the Rockies' bullpen. Mulder then walked Garrett Atkins and Gonzalez singled, but avoided further damage. Rockies 3-2.

Cards third – Two out rally fails
Albert and Larry singled with two out. Rolen was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Grudz didn't do it.

Rockies fourth – Four in four is not a good trend
Ardoin doubled into the right field corner leading off. Jennings popped out trying to sacrifice. Aaron Miles doubled past third to score Ardoin. A passed ball by Molina moved Miles to third. Mulder is all over the place with his pitches. He fanned Mohr swinging for out #2 and retired Helton on a fly ball. Rockies 4-2.

Cards fifth – Given the tie
Miles erred on Nunez' ground ball with one out. Albert singled with two down. Walker ground into a force at second, but as the ball got away, Nunez scored. Walker should have been out when he shoved the pitcher in the back, but got away it. Grudz singled up the middle, scoring Walker. Hungo pulled down #49 on the countdown clock. Tie 4-4.

Rockies seventh – Reyes right
Al Reyes took over on the mound. He retired the top of the Rockies order, including Helton swinging.

Rockies eighth – Practically perfect
Reyes did allow a runner, but again fanned a Rockie for the third out.

Cards eighth - Ran out of it
Rolen singled leading off, but after a sac with Grudz failed, Rolen was caught trying to take second when the Rockies pitched out.

Rockies ninth – Holding them
Julian Tavarez started and Ray King followed. With a runner on first with one out, the defense turned a double play.

Cards ninth – A win
Molina walked starting the inning off former Cardinal property Jay Witasick. John Mabry sacrificed him to second. Abraham Nunez' slapped the first pitch into the right field corner to score Yadi. Cards 5-4.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
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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