Walton's Game Observations – Saturday – Cards 4-2

Chris Carpenter won his 20th game, leading the Cardinals over the Houston Astros and Roger Clemens by a 4-2 score Saturday night.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Houston Astros by a 4-2 score at Minute Maid Park Saturday night. The Cardinals' best record in baseball is now 86-50 as they squared the three-game weekend series one game each.

Cy Young combatants Chris Carpenter and Roger Clemens battled. Clemens left after five with a hamstring injury behind 2-1. He received a no-decision. Carpenter pitched a complete game, his seventh of the season, fanning eight in the process. He also allowed eight hits and two runs while winning his 20th game of theseason.

The Cards' offense pounded ten singles and a double by Mark Grudzielanek. Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina (two RBI) and So Taguchi each had two hits. Larry Walker scored twice.

Saturday's lineup
Eckstein, Grudzielanek, Pujols, Edmonds, Walker, Taguchi, Molina, Nunez and Carpenter.

On to the game…

Astros first – Nailed at the plate
Craig Biggio singled with one out, but the inning ended when he was tagged out at the plate trying to score from first on Lance Berkman's double. Grudz got the assist, firing the ball to Molina, who applied the tag.

Cards second – A hit
So worked Clemens in the count before singling to center with two out. Molina grounded out, though.

Astros second – Coulda been worse
Mike Lamb doubled down the left field line leading off. Luke Scott hit a ball over Edmonds' head. The ball landed on that incredibly stupid Tal's Hill in dead center as Lamb scored easily. Adam Everett singled to put runners on the corners. Brad Ausmus hit a comebacker to Carpenter, as Molina tagged Scott out. Clemens then fanned looking and Taveras flied out. Astros 1-0.

Astros third – Another DP
Ensberg walked with one out, but was erased in a double play grounder by Berkman.

Cards fourth – Lead taken
Albert singled up the middle leading off and moved up on an Edmonds ground out. Walker drew a free pass. On a pitch that only squirted a few feet away from Ausmus, Pujols hustled and just made it into third base. On a So grounder to third, the Astros came home. The throw was there in time to tag Pujols, but the ball got away. Molina's chopper scored Walker. Cards 2-1.

Cards fifth – Soft underbelly exposed
Albert singled to third with two outs. Clemens had to leave the game after straining his hamstring after five innings and 73 pitches.

Astros fifth – Two on
Leading off, Ausmus singled. Biggio hit by a pitch with two out, but the runners stayed there.

Astros sixth – Lead lost
Berkman homered leading the other way, to left, leading off. Lane walked and Everett reached via bloop single to right. Both runners moved up on Ausmus grounder. Tie 2-2.

Cards seventh – Blunder costs run
Nunez led off with a single to left. Carp sacrificed him to second and he moved to third on an Eckstein ground out. Grudz shot a ball to left center. Willy Tavarez dove for the ball, but it bounced off, allowing the run to score. Albert was intentionally walked. Edmonds singled and Grudz scored, but Albert tried to take third base and was tagged out on a very close play. As a result, Grudz' run was taken off the book because he slowed coming to the plate, not expecting Albert would try to take third. This is the third baserunning play this game where Pujols has taken a big risk and the first time it backfired. Cards 3-2.

Astros seventh – Showing leather
Nunez made a nice run, catch and throw on a Tavarez bunt leading off.

Cards eighth – Getting that run back
Walker singled leading off and took third on a Taguchi single to left. Molina singled to center, scoring Walker. So lined out on a hard-hit ball to second that turned into a double play. Cards 4-2.

Cards ninth – Two runs are it
Eckstein singled, but Grudz and Edmonds couldn't go anything.

Astros ninth – Done
Carp collected his complete game win by striking out the final batter, his eighth K of the night.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Sunday @ Astros: Jason Marquis vs. Wandy Rodriguez 2:05pm WB11
Monday vs. Cubs: Matt Morris vs. Mark Prior 1:15pm FSNM
Tuesday vs. Cubs: Jeff Suppan vs. Glendon Rusch 7:10pm FSNM
Wednesday vs. Cubs: Mark Mulder vs. Greg Maddux 7:10pm FSNM
Thursday vs. Mets: Jason Marquis vs. Victor Zambrano 7:10pm FSNM
Friday vs. Mets: Chris Carpenter vs. Kris Benson 7:10pm FSNM
Saturday vs. Mets: Matt Morris vs. Jae Seo 6:15pm WB11
Sunday vs. Mets: Jeff Suppan vs. Steve Trachsel 1:15pm WB11

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

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