Walton's Game Observations – Sunday – Cards 4-1

Jason Marquis' second straight complete game fueled the Cardinals over the Houston Astros by a 4-1 score Sunday afternoon.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Houston Astros by a 4-1 score at Minute Maid Park Sunday afternoon. The Cardinals' best record in baseball is now 87-50 as they won their fourth straight series to complete their road trip, taking this three-game weekend series two games to one.

Jason Marquis defeated Wandy Rodriguez. Marquis spun his second consecutive complete game, allowing just five hits, while striking out five in just 98 pitches total.

Jim Edmonds and Yadier Molina each collected two RBI. Abraham Nunez had a perfect day, with three hits and a walk. David Eckstein had a single and a double.

Sunday's lineup – Lefty order
Eckstein, Edmonds, Pujols, Molina, Grudzielanek, Taguchi (rf), Nunez, Luna (lf) and Marquis.

On to the game…

Cards first – Doubled up
David Eckstein led off with a single to center, but Albert ground into a double play to end it.

Astros first – Another, another
Chris Burke singled to left with one out. And, another twin killing the other way had the same result.

Astros second – RISP opportunity
Lance Berkman singled leading off. He tried to take third on a single to left, but was tagged out at third on a nice throw by Luna. Jason Lane took second on the throw and moved up on a ground out, but Adam Everett fanned to end the threat.

Cards third – So close, but so far
Nunez reached leading off via a swinging bunt toward third base. Luna just missed a double over third base that was called foul before grounding into a twin killing. Marquis ground out, completing the three-inning minimum-batter stretch.

Astros third – High speed ballet
The speedy Willy Taveras was retired on a nice tumbling catch by Taguchi in right as Grudz leapt over him to end the inning. Taveras then made his own nice leaping catch against the wall on a ball to deepest left center by Edmonds.

Astros fourth – Deep fly
After retiring seven in a row, Marquis allowed a first-pitch Lance Berkman solo homer to left with two down. To his credit, Marquis settled down to get Lane to end it. Astros 1-0.

Cards sixth – Wandy, Wandy what went wrong?
Nunez walked leading off. Luna was plunked on the hip with an inside fastball. A Marquis sacrifice was ideal. However, Eckstein then fouled out on a bunt attempt for the second out. It may have been a squeeze play, but even if so, it was a bad decision with two strikes. Edmonds made it all better, hitting the next pitch to right for a two-run single. Following a Pujols walk, clean-up man Molina singled up the middle for an RBI – barely. Pujols was almost caught overrunning second base before Edmonds trotted home. Cards 3-1.

Cards seventh – Caught stealing
So singled leading off against reliever Brandon Duckworth, but was caught trying to steal second base. He was easily nailed on a pitch out. Nunez singled. Marquis was hit on the hand by a pitch while swinging. At least that is what the home plate ump, Greg Gibson, ruled. Marquis then fanned.

Astros seventh – Harmless hit
Jason Lane singled to left with two outs, but was stranded when Marquis retired Luke Scott.

Cards eighth – Another run
Eckstein doubled to left, hustling a single into two bases and moved up on an Edmonds out. Albert drew an intentional pass. Molina made them pay, when he shot an RBI single to left after fouling off a squeeze attempt. Albert stole third, but So made the third out. Cards 4-1.

Cards ninth – Bottom of the lineup active
Nunez singled and a fielders' choice by Luna exchanged baserunners. Marquis sacrificed him to second, but Eckstein popped out.

Astros ninth – 1-2-3, 1-2-3
Marquis completed the five-hit gem by retiring the 1-2-3 batters in 1-2-3 order.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Monday vs. Cubs: Jeff Suppan vs. Mark Prior 1:15pm FSNM
Tuesday vs. Cubs: Matt Morris 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: Jeff Suppan vs. Jae Seo 6:15pm WB11
Sunday vs. Mets: Matt Morris vs. Steve Trachsel 1:15pm WB11

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

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