Walton's Game Observations – Monday – Cards 6-4

Returning home, Albert Pujols powered the Cardinals over the Chicago Cubs by a 6-4 score Monday afternoon.

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Chicago Cubs by a 6-4 score at Busch Stadium Monday afternoon. The Cardinals' best record in baseball is now 88-50 as they took the first of this three-game midweek series and of the ten-game homestand as they reached a new high-water mark for the season in wins over .500 at 38 games.

Jeff Suppan vs. took on Cubs' ace Mark Prior. Each lasted six innings, leaving the game tied at two. It was Suppan's 15th quality start of the season. Jason Isringhausen created his own save situation in the ninth, but Julian Tavarez bailed him out for his fourth save. Ray King got the win.

Albert Pujols showed why he should be the league Most Valuable player with a three-run home run in the eighth to break a 2-2 tie. He also singled and walked and drove in a third run. David Eckstein singled, doubled and scored twice. Abraham Nunez had two hits and a walk.

Monday's lineup
Eckstein, Nunez, Pujols, Edmonds, Walker, Grudzielanek, Rodriguez, Diaz and Suppan.

On to the game…

Cards first – A hit
Albert singled with two outs, but Edmonds fanned to end it.

Cubs second – RISP wasted
Nomar Garciaparra doubled with one out, but was stranded right there.

Cards third – Non-Walker walker
John Rodriguez walked with two outs, but did not advance.

Cubs fourth – Nada
Lee singled with one out and was erased on a fielders' choice by Jeromy Burnitz. That was it.

Cubs fifth – Erased
Todd Walker drew a leadoff walk, but his stolen base attempt failed miserably. He was out by a mile. Perhaps it was a missed hit and run play.

Cards fifth – Deadlock broken
Suppan singled with two out. Eckstein followed with a single, too. Nunez shot a ball past the rookie shortstop, Ronny Cedeno, to score the first run of the game. Cedeno tried to ole' the ball, but that didn't work. With the runners moved up, Pujols was intentionally walked to load the bases. A wild pitch scored Eckstein, who collided with Prior at the plate, but Nunez was tagged out at the plate to end the inning. Cards 2-0.

Cubs sixth – Two-out trouble
Cedeno walked with two outs. Then, Nunez made a fielding error, allowing Derrek Lee to reach. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Burnitz hit a 3-1 pitch for a game-tying single. Nomar singled to put two on base again. That got the bullpen up. That was it, as both runs were unearned. Tie 2-2.

Cubs eighth – Bases loaded scare
Brad Thompson took over for Al Reyes. Jerry Hairston was hit by a pitch and was sacrificed to second. Lee was intentionally walked. Ray King took over and got the second out, as both runners moved up. Nomar was walked intentionally, but unintentionally to load the bases. Todd Walker was retired to end the threat.

Cards eighth – Can you spell M-V-P?
Leading off, Eckstein walked and Nunez reached on an infield single. Albert collected them all with a three-run homer to left center off reliever Roberto Novoa. Against Will Ohman, Edmonds followed with a home run of his own, after three strikeouts earlier. So continued the hit parade with a two-out single. Diaz was hit by a pitch to drive the third pitching change of the inning. Luna was retired, but the damage was done. Cards 6-2.

Cubs ninth – Izzy time very shaky again
With a four-run lead, closer Jason Isringhausen put the tying run at the plate with no outs after allowing three straight singles to load the bases. Light-hitting Henry Blanco, Corey Patterson and Neifi Perez were on for Jerry Hairston, who walked to drive the first run in. Exit Izzy, enter Julian Tavarez. A sac fly scored another. But, Derrek Lee ground into a double play, as Grudz was positioned perfectly. Cards 6-4.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
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: Chris Carpenter vs. Victor Zambrano 7:10pm FSNM
Friday vs. Mets: Jason Marquis 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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