Walton's Game Observations – Thursday – D'bax 9-2

The Cardinals were defeated by the Arizona Diamondbacks by a 9-2 score Thursday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals were defeated by the Arizona Diamondbacks by a 9-2 score Thursday night. The Cardinals' record is now 76-45 as they won the series two games to one despite the defeat.

Trying to break a long, dry spell on the mound, Jason Marquis toed the rubber against Nationals' castoff Claudio Vargas. It didn't happen. Marquis pitched well in the middle innings, but unraveled with two out in the seventh and ended up giving up six earned runs, with the "help" of Julian Tavarez. With the loss, Marquis fell to 9-12 on the season. He has only one win in over the last two two months.

Marquis led the offense with a single, double and RBI. Needless to say, that wasn't enough. No other Cardinal hitter had more than one hit. The team had only six in total.

Sound familiar?
Mets' catcher Mike Piazza left Tuesday's game when he suffered a hairline fracture in the lower part of his left hand, according to the AP. Piazza is hoping to stay off the disabled list, but he is likely to be out of action for at least a few days. Barry Weinberg was unavailable for comment.

Remember him?
San Diego starter Woody Williams gave up six runs in five innings against the Florida Marlins Wednesday night. His season ERA is 4.94, despite starting 13 of his 20 games at spacious Petco Park. With his 15th start, a $4 million option for 2006 kicked in. On his 25th start, that goes up to $5 million. Anyone wishing the Cards kept Woody instead of Jeff Suppan, for example, who will also make $5 million next year? Williams turns 39 on Friday.

Burwell missed a trick on Sanders
In a story about Reggie Sanders' recovery, Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell used a Tony La Russa quote to gauge when a player is ready to return from injury. "You ask the guy, 'If this was your free agent year, when could you play?'" Sounds good, but the correlation Burwell failed to point out is that this is, in fact, Sanders' free agent year. Where he will play in 2006 and beyond is a very open question and one that could play an impact on the nature and timing of his return this season. P-D link

Thursday's lineup
Eckstein, Rodriguez, Pujols, Edmonds, Mabry (3b), Nunez (2b), Taguchi (rf), Molina and Marquis. Yadier Molina returned to the lineup after going onto the disabled list just prior to the All-Star break. Mark Grudzielanek got the night off.

On to the game…

D'backs first – 1-2-3
Marquis got started out of the gate well, retiring the first three hitters without incident.

Cards first – Deflated
Eckstein singled. John Rodriguez was hit on the foot with a pitch. He was checked out by Weinberg, but remained in the game. First and third with one out and no runs come in. Hope that won't be a problem later.

D'backs second – Trouble
Troy Glaus singled and Shawn Green walked with one out. Royce Clayton doubled past third and the ball jutted out back onto the field. Two runs scored as Clayton took third on J-Rod's throw home. The #8 hitter, catcher Kelly Stinnett, walked on four straight pitches. D'backs 2-0.

Cards second – Two more wasted
So took a free pass with one out. Marquis legged out an infield hit. Both were stranded.

D'backs third – Another run
Nunez and Pujols made a nice defensive play on Chad Tracy for the second out, but Luis Gonzalez hammered a ball out to right. At least it was a solo shot. Marquis walked Tony Clark and Glaus singled. D'backs 3-0.

D'backs fourth – Cards "D" working
#8 hitter Stinnett reached again as he singled to left with one out. Coming in on a ball and barehanding it, Pujols started an excellent double play to end the inning.

Cards fourth – Two runs hustled
Mabry collected a leadoff walk, but was forced out by Nunez. So singled with one out, extended his hitting streak to 11 games. As the ball got away, Nunez hustled home all the way from second. So stayed at second, but Marquis brought him home with a single. D'backs 3-2.

D'backs fifth – Marquis almost folds
Craig Counsell and Tracy led off with singles. A 4-6-3 helped a lot as Counsell took third. That was it.

Cards fifth – Some help for Albert, here
Albert doubled off the wall with one out. He was left at third as the inning ended.

D'backs sixth – Twin killers
Glaus walked leading off and he was erased in another double play, the Cards' fourth in six innings.

Cards sixth – Jobbed
Molina was called out to end the inning on a ball that outfielder Shawn Green clearly trapped. Marquis was left on deck.

Cards seventh – Albert Krucial K
J-Rod singled off reliever Tim Worrell with two out, but Albert fanned looking.

D'backs eighth – Two out meltdown
With two outs and two strikes on Tony Clark, Marquis looked like he had strike three. Home plate ump Joe West didn't give the call. Next pitch, Clark doubled into the right field corner on the very next pitch. Duncan came out to discuss. Glaus singled with two strikes to drive in the run. After Green singled, La Russa pulled Marquis in favor of Julian Tavarez. He walked Clayton. Stinnett singled in two. Why did La Russa let this matchup happen? The weak-hitting Stinnett owns Tavarez, with a 5-for-9 career mark with two homers and five RBI. Make that 6-for-10 and seven ribbies. The bases were reloaded on an infield single by pinch-hitter Alex Cintron. Exit Julian, enter Ray King. Counsell's single scored two more. D'backs 8-2.

D'backs ninth – Another solo shot
Having not pitched since Sunday, Izzy got in an inning of work. Luis Gonzalez homered for the second time this evening and Izzy hit Tony Clark with a pitch. D'backs 9-2.

Cards ninth – Early exit
Nothing happened.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Friday vs. Giants: Chris Carpenter vs. Brad Hennessey 7:10pm FSMW
Saturday vs. Giants: Matt Morris vs. Kevin Correia 12:20pm Big Fox
Sunday vs. Giants: Jeff Suppan vs. Jason Schmidt 1:15pm WB11

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

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