Walton's Game Observations – Sunday – Cards 3-0

The Cardinals swept the Houston Astros, winning 3-0 Sunday afternoon.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Houston Astros 3-0 Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium to sweep the three-game weekend series. In the process, the Cardinals upped their record to 59-32 – a season-best 27 games over .500. The Astros are now 14-1/2 games out of first.

Two 2005 All-Stars went to the mound as Chris Carpenter took on future Hall-of-Famer Roger Clemens. Carpenter was the better pitcher on the day and had better fielders behind him, too, as Clemens last two runs allowed were unearned.

In getting win #14, best in the League, Carpenter pitched his fourth complete-game shutout of the season on a three hitter. He faced just one over the minimum, walking none and fanning nine.

Scott Rolen collected the lone RBI with a good-to-see double. It was his first hit since July 8 and first extra-base hit since July 5. So Taguchi had a pair of singles and scored once.

Good and bad flashback
Perhaps I am the only one who missed this, but Chris Carpenter's start was the first by a Cardinals pitcher in 32 years. Rick Wise started the Mid-Summer Classic in 1973, but it hardly makes me feel better about the Cardinals having traded Hall-of-Famer Steve Carlton to get him. No, I will never get over it.

Albert milestone met
Albert Pujols' game-ending home run Friday night moved him into sole possession of fourth place on the team's All-Time Busch Stadium home runs list with 82.

Izzy moving up
When Jason Isringhausen picked up the save in Saturday's victory, it was his 127th as a Cardinal. That matches Bruce Sutter for third place on the team's All-Time Saves list.

Sunday's lineup
Eckstein, Grudzielanek, Pujols, Edmonds, Walker, Rolen, Taguchi (lf), Mahoney, Carpenter. Reggie Sanders sat due to bruised ribs for the third straight game. So Taguchi replaced him even though John Mabry hits from the left side. Grudz was moved up to the two-hole after collecting eight hits in his last four games. Mike Mahoney got his second straight start in relief of the injured Yadier Molina. Rolen made just his third appearance all season in the #6 hole.

On to the game…

Astros first – Good gloves
Craig Biggio singled to left with one out, but was easily removed via a tailor-made double play.

Cards second – Astros defense gives Cards a gift
Walker drew a one-out walk to become the first baserunner of the day against Clemens. Rolen slammed a 2-2 offering for a double into the right center gap to score Walker all the way from first. He broke an 0-for-15 stretch with the hit. So slapped an infield single to deep short, but Rolen decided not to try to take third. It didn't matter as Mahoney drew a walk to load the bases. On an 0-2 pitch, Carpenter's bouncer went to first base. Backup first baseman Mike Lamb came home, but threw wildly, allowing two to score. Astros manager Phil Garner argued that Carpenter interfered, but replays show he was running in the base line. Cards 3-0.

Astros third – Another Houston mistake
Brad Ausmus made a baserunning blunder, trying to stretch a single into a double. He hit the ball to right and Walker easily gunned him down.

Cards fourth – Mahoney's first
Mike Mahoney collected his first-ever Cardinals base hit and first MLB safety since 2002.

Astros fifth – Second Astros hit
Lamb singled to left with one out but was forced out to end the frame.

Cards sixth – Rolen still struggling
Walker legged out a chopper off the plate with one out. Rolen's double play grounder ended the inning, though.

Cards seventh – No more Clemens
So singled and Mahoney sacrificed him over. That was it for the Cards and for Clemens, too, as he departed after seven.

Cards eighth - Last baserunner
Edmonds drew a two-out walk off Chad Harville.

Astros ninth - Game, set and match
Carpenter ended the game having retired 19 of the last 20 Houston hitters.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Monday vs. Brewers: Matt Morris vs. Victor Santos 7:10pm FSNM
Tuesday vs. Brewers: Jeff Suppan vs. Doug Davis 7:10pm FSNM
Wednesday vs. Brewers: Mark Mulder vs. Ben Sheets 7:10pm FSNM
Thursday vs. Brewers: Jason Marquis vs. Chris Capuano 2:10pm FSNM

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

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