Walton's Game Observations – Wednesday – Cards 8-3

Chris Carpenter pitched the Cardinals over the Pittsburgh Pirates by a 8-3 score Wednesday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates by a 8-3 score at PNC Park Wednesday night. The Cardinals' best record in baseball is now 80-47 as they took two of the first three games in the four-game midweek series.

Chris Carpenter took on Kip Wells and won his major-league best 18th game of the season and tenth in a row. Carp allowed three runs on only four hits in eight innings. Rob Mackowiak had three of the hits, including a double and a triple. Al Reyes mopped up.

Despite the fourth and fifth hitters going 0-for-9 with a walk, the rest of the hitters came through. David Eckstein had three hits, including a triple, scored one and drove in two. John Rodriguez and Albert Pujols each singled and homered and scored twice. J-Rod drove in three.

It will be fully documented elsewhere, but the anger between the two teams came to a head before the game as former Cardinal hitting coach and current Pirate hitting coach Gerald Perry struck Cardinals hitting coach Dave Duncan in the face. Duncan was apparently expressing concern with Manager Lloyd McClendon about Rick White throwing at the Cardinals Tuesday night, when Perry walked up and seemed to sucker-punch Duncan, who then struck McClendon. As expected, there were plenty of discussions among all parties including the umpiring crew as everything was supposedly sorted out.

Hayes in the doghouse?
Dan reported that La Russa walked out of an interview with Jim Hayes of FSNM because of the brawl. He made it sound like La Russa didn't like Hayes' questions. That wasn't it. Turns out that La Russa was on camera as the fight broke out and jumped up and ran off to defend his team.

A final shot for Larry?
Dan mentioned that Larry Walker expects to have a fourth cortisone shot in his ailing neck prior to the playoffs.

Edmonds contract status
Jim Edmonds is under contract for 2006 with a 2007 option but has wanted an extension for some time. Hungo made a strong point, which surprised me, but with which I agree 100%. Given Edmonds' age, there is no reason to hurry to sign him. It should be revisited in another year.

No controversy for Al
Dan expressed outrage over the fact that Julian Tavarez' suspension last season for pine tar on his cap was the same ten games as a first-time steroid user receives. He asked Hungo for his view. While it would have been very easy and understandable had Hungo agreed, he instead said "I don't want to get involved in that." OK.

Wednesday's lineup – Molina up and So out
Eckstein, Walker, Pujols, Edmonds, Nunez (3b), Rodriguez (lf), Molina, Luna (2b) and Carpenter. It was the first time all season that the catcher hit higher than eighth. So Taguchi was out of the lineup with a sore right hand/wrist. He was hit by a Ryan Vogelsong pitch during the ninth inning of Tuesday night's game, but did end up entering Wednesday's game in the seventh.

On to the game…

Cards first – Retaliation with the bats
Eckstein led off with a single and moved to third as the right fielder, rookie Nate McLouth, allowed the ball to get past him. Larry Walker collected the 1300th RBI of his career on another single to right. Pujols singled to put runners on the corners. Edmonds walked to load the bases with no outs. Nunez then fanned. J-Rod eased the tension by slapping a first-pitch single that was good for two RBI. Molina's single to right scored Edmonds. Carpenter drew a two-out walk to reload the bases and send Eckstein up a second time in the inning. He singled to short center to score the fifth run. Wells was pulled for Ryan Vogelsong, who retired Walker for the third out. Cards 5-0.

Bucs first – Shaky start for Carp
Carpenter walked the leadoff man, Chris Duffy. McLouth singled off Carpenter's foot. The ball ricocheted to Nunez, who might have had a play at first except that he did not handle the ball cleanly. Rob Mackowiak had a two-out run-scoring single, but Molina collected the third out on the continuation of the play as his throw erased McLouth sliding into third base. Cards 5-1.

Cards third – One on
Molina walked with one out. Luna forced him at second base. That was it.

Cards fourth – And another
Walker singled with one down. Neither Pujols nor Edmonds did anything.

Bucs fourth – Shaky "D" costs one
Eldred reached as Molina missed strike three. Carpenter was charged with a wild pitch as Eldred legged out the pitch in the dirt. That hurt badly as Mackowiak shot the next pitch to left center. In front of the wall, J-Rod stretched awkwardly, but missed as Eldred scored. It looked to be a tough play, but catchable. Cards 5-2.

Cards fifth – J-Rod takes run back
J-Rod homered to deepest centerfield. Cards 6-2.

Bucs seventh – Nice try
Mackowiak shot a ball to the top of the wall in deepest center. Edmonds leapt high, but just missed a great catch. Mackowiak scored on a ground out by Ty Wigginton. Hungo pointed out that Carp's ERA will rise as a result of this outing. Cards 6-3.

Cards eighth – Eckstein's big night
Luna walked with one out and stole second base. Once again, an Eckstein shot got past the outfielder, this time Duffy. Eckstein ended up at third with a triple as the ball rolled to the wall. Luna scored easily. Cards 7-3.

Cards ninth – One more time
Albert clobbered a 2-0 pitch off closer Jose Mesa up into the right field seats for a solo shot. 34 home runs and 97 RBI for Albert. He also scored his second run of the night and 103rd of the season. John Mabry singled but was stranded. Cards 8-3.

Bucs ninth – It was over prior to this
Al Reyes retired the Pirates in order in a non-save situation.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Thursday @ Pittsburgh: Matt Morris vs. David Williams 7:05pm FSNM
Friday @ Washington: Jeff Suppan vs. Estaban Loaiza 7:05pm FSNM
Saturday @ Washington: Mark Mulder vs. Ryan Drese 1:15pm Big Fox
Sunday @ Washington: Jason Marquis vs. Tony Armas, Jr. 1:05pm WB11

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

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories