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

The Cardinals defeated the Chicago Cubs by a 5-4 score Sunday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals were defeated by the Chicago Cubs by a 5-4 score at Wrigley Field Sunday night. The Cardinals' record is now 74-44 as they lost three of the four game weekend series.

Going for his 100th career win, Matt Morris opposed Mark Prior. It was not to be for Matty Mo, as he allowed 11hits and five runs in 5-1/3 innings. It could have been even worse. The Cubs had runners on base in every inning.

12 Cardinals hitters fanned on a night they only garnered eight hits. Mike Mahoney homered and had two RBI. David Eckstein and Jim Edmonds each had two hits and a walk, but the Cards had trouble stringing them together.

Delgado drugged up and pulled down
Former Cardinals infielder Wilson Delgado, playing for Florida's Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque, received his second suspension for breaking the minor league drug policy. Earlier this season, Delgado was given a 15-day suspension for using steroids and this time, it is a 30-day time out. He is the first two-time offender. Can you imagine how bad Delgado would be if he was clean?

Congrats to Eck
Former Cardinals closer Dennis Eckersley's #43 was retired by the Oakland A's on Saturday. Eck collected Cy Young and MVP awards in 1992 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame last year.

AFL schedule announced
Though not specifically stated in this article, the teams who will be joining the Cardinals in stocking the Surprise Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League will be the Royals and Angels from the American League plus the Phillies and Astros from the NL. Rosters will be announced on the 22nd. AFL schedule

Angels learned about Borbon
The Angels have released reliever Pedro Borbon, Jr. from their Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake after he registered a 6.75 ERA in eight games. They could have asked us first and saved the trouble. No word on whether or not Estaban Yan had recommended him to the Halos.

Pujols on MVP
With the national TV cameras rolling, Albert Pujols talked about the MVP and was very gracious about his competition and teammates. He knows what he is doing.

Sunday's lineup
Eckstein, Rodriguez (lf), Pujols, Edmonds, Nunez, Grudzielanek, Taguchi (rf), Mahoney and Morris. Jon Miller called Mahoney "Skip" during the pre-game lineup intro. What a Freudian slip that was. Suppose the Cards could just go with eight hitters?

On to the game…

Cards first – Missed opportunity
Albert walked with two out, as Prior worked him carefully. A hit-and-run with Edmonds worked perfectly to put runners on the corners. The Cards need to strike now against Prior. Nunez was over-aggressive, swinging at a slider that bounced in the dirt, before lining to Todd Walker at second on Prior's 25th pitch of the inning.

Cubs first – Morris in and out of trouble
Lead off man Matt Lawton singled up the middle on an 0-2 count. Walker stroked a first-pitch single to left. A strikeout of a Derrek Lee, fly balls by Aramis Ramirez and Jeromy Burnitz ended the threat.

Cards second – Welcome, "Babe" Mahoney
With two outs, Mike Mahoney stunned everyone by homering into the left field bleachers. Amazing. Needless to say, it was his first major league homer. In fact, it was only his second extra-base hit in the bigs. Cards 1-0.

Cubs second – What lead?
The glow lasted one pitch, as Nomar Garciaparra doubled off the centerfield wall. A 2-0 pitch to Corey Patterson left the park. Three more outs collected without additional incident. Cubs 2-1.

Cards third – Not this time
Eckstein reached on a bloop single to right. After a J-Rod fly, Albert ground into a routine 4-6-3.

Cubs third – No 1-2-3 yet
Ramirez singled just past a diving Eckstein's glove with one out. That was it.

Cards fourth – Pushing the envelope
Edmonds drew a leadoff walk but was thrown out trying to steal on a failed hit-and-run with Nunez, who fanned. Grudz singled to right with two out but remained there.

Cubs fourth – Blanco blue
Henry Blanco singled with two out.

Cards fifth – Not enough
Eckstein took a two-out walk.

Cubs fifth – Almost disaster
Lawton homered to left leading off. Walker singled. Lee hit what was originally called a home run to left, but was clearly foul. Fortunately, home plate umpire Bruce Froemming reversed the call. Ramirez hit into a nicely-executed 5-4-3 to end the inning. Cubs 3-1.

Cards sixth – Really small ball
Edmonds singled to right with one out. La Russa had removed his dark glasses, so we have to assume the Cardinals are not running. Nunez took a free pass on Prior's 103rd pitch of the evening. Roberto Novoa began to warm up for the Cubs. Grudz slammed a pitch off Ramirez' glove at third to load the bases. So golfed a ball to right. Strangely, Edmonds tagged up, but Burnitz throw home was offline as Edmonds slid in safely. Babe Mahoney stepped in with one out. He ground into what looked to be a double play, but Ramirez decided to throw to first. The throw was low and late. Lee saved a run with a diving grab at first. Morris fanned for the third time. Marquis, he ain't. Tie 3-3.

Cubs sixth – One batter too many for Morris
Burnitz singled off Morris' left hand or wrist for a single. Al Reyes began to throw as Morris was checked out by the trainer, La Russa and Duncan. Morris stayed in to yield a single to Nomar Garciaparra. It was Morris' tenth hit allowed. Patterson avoided a double play by speeding to first on a grounder and stole second to put two runners in scoring position with two out. Blanco walked to load the bases. Jose Macias pinch hit for Prior. This could be the game's turning point as Morris was left in. Macias singled up the middle to score two and end Morris' night. No way should Macias beat you. No more than Neifi Perez, I guess. Randy Flores came in with two lefties coming up and one out and induced a Lawton double play to end the bleeding. Cubs 5-3.

Cards seventh – No knock on Wood
Kerry Wood came in to relieve Prior and made quick work of the top three hitters. He adds a real dominating dimension to the set up role.

Cubs seventh – More runners
Al Reyes pitched. Walker singled off a diving Grudz for an infield single. He moved up on a wild pitch. Coulda been a passed ball if it matters. With two out, Ray King was brought in and got the final out.

Cards eighth – 3 Ks
Wood blew Edmonds away, but Nunez drew a walk. Grudz and So also fanned.

Cubs eighth – Another threat
Ray King remained on the hill. Nomar reached on a single to left and took second on a wild pitch. With one out, Cal Eldred was brought in. Grudz muffed a grounder by Todd Hollandsworth for a single that put runners on the corners. That was it, though.

Cards ninth – Last threat
Skip Schumaker and John Mabry pinch hit against Cubs closer Ryan Dempster. Schu should have been out, but as Nomar's throw went into the dugout, he took second base. Mabry fanned but Eckstein singled past short. With hope, Izzy began to throw in the pen. J-Rod ground out as Schumaker scored. Albert Pujols came up as the Cards' last chance and launched a broken-bat grounder to second to end the game. Cubs 5-4.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Monday: Off day Tuesday vs. D'Backs: Jeff Suppan vs. Brad Halsey 7:10 p.m. FSN Midwest
Wednesday vs. D'Backs: Mark Mulder vs. Brandon Webb 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Thursday vs. D'Backs: Jason Marquis vs. Claudio Vargas 7:10 p.m. FSNM/ESPN

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

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