Jason Marquis came in trying to win his first game in a month. Arizona starter Claudio Vargas entered the contest with an ERA over seven on the season, yet he cut right through the Cards' line-up. However, he tired in the eighth and the D'backs pen failed to hold the lead. The game was tied going into the ninth.
Marquis went eight one-run innings, allowing just four hits and one walk. He fanned seven, but did not figure in the decision. Overall, Cardinals pitching allowed the D'backs just seven runs in four games, taking three of four. But, the final run was a walk-off home run by Luis Gonzalez leading off the bottom of the ninth. Ray King took the loss.
Along with Marquis, the defense was the star, as All-Star starters Jim Edmonds and David Eckstein each made highlight reel plays in the field. While Edmonds was shaken up on his play, he stayed in the game. Yadier Molina was not so lucky, as he left the game after being hit in the left hand by a pitch in the eighth inning.
John Mabry had three hits and Reggie Sanders collected the sole RBI. La Russa made an odd decision to let Marquis hit instead of So Taguchi or Mark Grudzielanek with two out in the top of the ninth and the lead run at third. Very curious.
Weird Wednesday factoids
Some strange things happened in Wednesday's 2-1 win. First of all, no Redbird runners were stranded the entire game. Their three hits was their lowest total of the season. But, who won't take the "W"?
Closer Jason Isringhausen had been stuck on 199 career saves and 22 on the season for a week. Prior to finally getting #200 Wednesday night, Izzy' last save was on June 28th against the Reds. Between those events, it was feast or famine for the Redbirds. They won three games by a combined 27-6 margin, lost twice and came from behind in the ninth for another. Izzy's last save prior to that was on June 19.
Dellucci's stock rises
Rangers' outfielder David Dellucci, rumored by the P-D as a Cardinals trade target, hit two home runs Wednesday and has five in his last six games and seven in his last twelve. Overall, he has only 61 in over 1800 career at-bats since 1997. However, his seventeen this season already ties his career best, set last year.
All-Star Chris Carpenter won his 13th game of the season Wednesday night. With those 13 wins before the All-Star Game, Carpenter joins an elite group of just two other St. Louis pitchers who have had that many wins heading into the break. Joaquin Andujar was 15-4 in 1985 and 13-6 the previous season plus Kent Bottenfield posted a 14-3 mark heading into the break in 1999. Not surprisingly, all three times, they were on the NL All-Star team.
Albert gets deserved night off
Albert Pujols' 17-game hitting streak ended Thursday night as Javier Vazquez held him to an 0-for-3 showing. Albert's 17-game stretch was the second 17-game hitting streak of his career and was his 12th career hitting streak of ten or more games. During the 17-game span, Pujols batted .422 (27-for-64) with six home runs.
Eckstein, Edmonds, Sanders, Walker, Rolen, Mabry (1b), Nunez (2b), Molina and Marquis. Albert missed his second start all season. Sanders made his first appearance in the three-hole. Slumping Mark Grudzielanek took the night off. Reserves John Mabry and Abraham Nunez hit sixth and seventh, respectively.
On to the game…
Cards first – Not Albert
Edmonds walked with one out. So much for Sanders in #3 hole, as he ground into a double play.
D'backs second – A hit
Luiz Gonzalez singled with two outs. He was stranded.
Cards third – RISP with two outs
Mabry doubled with two out. Nunez couldn't get him home.
D'backs third – Marquis stumbles and Edmonds hurt
Leading off, Kelly Stinnett slammed a 3-1 pitch over the wall in right. It is Arizona's first lead of the series. The pitcher Vargas singled and was balked to second. He should have taken third on an out, but didn't. Chad Tracy walked. With two outs, Edmonds made another spectacular diving catch near the track in right center. He either got the wind knocked out or re-injured his ribs. I hope for the former and fear for the latter. Edmonds stayed in the game. Glaus fanned swinging to end it. Could have been far worse. D'backs 1-0.
Cards fourth – Another two-out RISP
Walker ripped an easy double into the right field corner with two out. Rolen was unable to drive him in.
Cards sixth – Bad call hurt
Edmonds walked again with two out. The Cards only have two hits off Vargas! Sanders hit what looked to be an RBI double down the left field line, but third baseman Joe Brinkman called it foul. Sanders took strike three looking.
D'backs sixth – Harmless runner
Despite a great play in the hole by Eckstein, Glaus legged out an infield single with two out. It didn't matter.
Cards seventh – C'mon guys, help Mabry
Mabry singled with two outs. He now has two of the Cards' three hits. How about some lead-off baserunners?
D'backs seventh – Eck's defense superb
For the second out, Eckstein made a great play as he dived headlong near the third base line to catch the ball and retire Luis Terrero. Marquis fanned Kelly Stinnett to end the frame. It was his seventh K of the night.
Cards eighth – Yadi hurt
Molina was hit on the left hand with a pitch and was taken out of the game immediately (after touching first base). What a dopey rule. Hector Luna pinch ran. Marquis was allowed to bat. Instead of sacrificing, Marquis swung away and flied out to center. Bad decision. A hit and run by Eckstein on 2-0 worked perfectly, putting runners on the corners and ending Vazquez' night. Armando Almanza retired pinch-hitter Albert Pujols on a first-pitch pop-up. He hit for Edmonds, in what could be considered a surprise. Jose Valverde was called on to pitch to Sanders. Reggie came through again, with his 25th two-out RBI this season. That is the best on the team. Runners on first and second. Walker took a free pass to load the bases for Rolen. His line shot was speared by Glaus to end the threat. Tie 1-1.
Cards ninth – Marquis fails last chance
Mabry led off with a single. Nunez continues to show excellent fundamentals as he laid down a perfect bunt. Mabry took second as Nunez almost beat the throw. After Luna ground out, La Russa let Marquis bat with two out and a runner at third. There is almost no one left on the bench – just So and Grudz. Marquis fanned on a high, outside heater. Then, La Russa pulled him from the game for Ray King.
D'backs ninth – King konged
Ray King served up a lead-off, walk-off home run to All-Star Luis Gonzalez to end the game and the series on a down note. D'backs 2-1.
Upcoming action (times CDT)
Friday @ Giants: Mark Mulder vs. Jason Schmidt 9:15pm FSNM
Saturday @ Giants: Matt Morris vs. TBD 3:05pm Big FOX
Sunday @ Giants: Jeff Suppan vs. Noah Lowry 7:05pm ESPN
Monday: Off day
Tuesday: All-Star Game
Wednesday: Off day
Thursday: Off day
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.