Mark Mulder faced Greg Maddux. Only a brief rough spot in the second inning was the difference between victory and defeat for Mulder, who tossed a complete game in just 96 pitches. He scattered ten hits, but was helped by double plays in each of the final three innings.
The bats were pretty quiet, especially disconcerting since Maddux lasted just 5-2/3 innings. Albert Pujols had a pair of singles and a solo homer. So Taguchi had a single, a double and a stolen base. Abraham Nunez had two singles, but fanned with the tying run on third base to end the game.
One Duncan in; another one out
Dave Duncan's suspension was cut to two games and he served the second of two games out. Gerald Perry's eight game suspension was upheld. Duncan's son, Chris, is one of the September call-ups and at one point late in the game Wednesday night was in the on-deck circle.
Eckstein, Nunez, Pujols, Edmonds, Mabry (rf), Taguchi (lf), Molina, Luna (2b) and Mulder. Mark Grudzielanek sat out due to minor back soreness.
On to the game…
Cubs first – Luna gloves one
After a two-error night in right field Tuesday night, Luna played second base on Wednesday. He made a nice running catch against the stands to retire leadoff man Jerry Hairston on the first pitch of the game.
Cards first – At least they had a hit
Nunez reached via a one-out infield chopper over Maddux. Albert fanned and Edmonds bounced out.
Cubs second – Sloppy D costs two
Michael Barrett reached via a one-out single, bounced up the middle. Burnitz ground into a double play, except the fact that Pujols dropped Eckstein's relay. Neifi Perez shot a double over Edmonds' head. When Edmonds had a bit of a problem getting the ball in, it allowed Burnitz to score without drawing a throw. It could have been scored as two errors so far. Rookie Matt Murton blooped a two-strike single to right that brought a sliding Perez home just ahead of Mabry's throw and Molina's tag. Cubs 2-0.
Cards second – Break not capitalized upon
So singled with one down and stole second on a call that replays seemed to show he was out. Molina walked, but Luna and Mulder couldn't do anything.
Cubs third – No 1-2-3 yet
Derrek Lee singled with two outs. That was it, though.
Cards third – "If I didn't have bad luck…"
Eckstein shot a ball of Maddux' foot for a single. It extended his hitting streak to 12 games. Nunez and Pujols singled to load the bases. A 1-2-3 double play really, really hurt matters. Mabry whiffed to end the promising inning gone bad.
Cards fourth – A baserunner
Molina walked with one out. Nothing else happened.
Cubs fifth – Small doings
Hairston singled to right with two down and was stranded.
Cards fifth – Another isolated runner
Albert singled with two out, but Edmonds flied out.
Cards sixth – Mad Dog and Cards threat both muzzled
So slammed a one-out double that just evaded a diving Murton in left center. He moved to third on the second out of the inning. Greg Maddux left to a standing ovation from the Busch crowd. John Rodriguez pinch hit for Luna against Michael Wuertz. He was walked, but Mulder fanned.
Cubs seventh – Nope
Burnitz singled to right leading off. A 6-4-3 took care of that.
Cards seventh – #37 for #5
On a 2-0 count with two out, Albert shot a laser beam 402 feet into the seats. It was Pujols' 37th home run of the season. Cubs 2-1.
Cubs eighth – JimEd's standing O
Edmonds received a standing ovation when he made a twisting, diving, rolling, slamming into the wall catch off Jose Macias in dead center. Hairston singled with one out, but Ronny Cedeno ground into an inning-ending double play.
Cubs ninth – Mabry busy at third
Lee singled off third baseman Mabry's glove, leading off. Nomar added a single. On a Barrett grounder, Mabry fielded the ball and just beat Lee to the bag for the first out. Burnitz singled over who else but Mabry? The bases were loaded. Mulder escaped via his third double play in a row.
Cards ninth – Last threat
Cubs closer Ryan Dempster came in to pitch. The first hitter, J-Rod, ground to second, but Perez' throw to first was high, pulling Lee off the bag. Skip Schumaker pinch-hit, likely with bunt orders. Schumaker bunted too hard, as Dempster erased J-Rod at second. An 0-2 wild pitch barely enabled Skip to steal second base as catcher Barrett leapt in disbelief. Eckstein ground out as Schumaker took third. Nunez took a called strike three on a low pitch to end the game. He and La Russa protested briefly as the umpires left the field. Game over.
Upcoming action (times CDT)
Thursday vs. Mets: Chris Carpenter vs. Kris Benson 7:10pm FSNM
Friday vs. Mets: Jason Marquis vs. Jae Seo 7:10pm FSNM
Saturday vs. Mets: Jeff Suppan vs. Steve Trachsel 6:15pm WB11
Sunday vs. Mets: Matt Morris vs. Pedro Martinez 1:15pm WB11
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.