Walton's Game Observations – Monday – Cards 4-3

The Cardinals came back twice to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates by a 4-3 mark Monday evening.

The St. Louis Cardinals prevailed over the Pittsburgh Pirates by a 4-3 score at Busch Stadium Monday night. The Cardinals' best record in baseball is now 92-53 as they won the first of a three-game midweek series.

Mark Mulder faced Mark Redman. Mulder kept his team in the game, pitching seven while allowing nine hits and a walk along with three hit batsmen. Still, he was in line for the win before Julian Tavarez and Ray King gave back the lead in the eighth. Due to a scoreless ninth inning, Jason Isringhausen received his first win of the season.

The bats were quiet, with only four singles coming into the ninth. However, Skip Schumaker's double and John Rodriguez' single were the final difference-makers. Albert Pujols had a pinch single and RBI.

Another Albert supporter
SI.com's John Donovan expresses his MVP preference, though he has no vote. link

Big night ahead for Eck?
David Eckstein came into the came 12-for-22 with a .955 slugging percentage against Redman.

Beaning hangovers
Tavarez had beaned former Met Edgardo Alfonzo in 2002 when the pitcher was a member of the Florida Marlins, so there was built-in concern on the part of the Mets, reported Dan McLaughlin. Hungo added that he asked La Russa, who confirmed that he as a player was hit not once, but twice in the head with pitches.

How bad is it?
The Pirates are the only NL team coming into the night who are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs – both as division winner and wild card.

Monday's lineup – Reggie's Return
Eckstein, Edmonds, Taguchi (rf), Molina, Sanders, Seabol, Nunez, Luna (2b) and Mulder. A pretty wacky lineup against the lefty. Mark Grudzielanek missed his sixth straight game due to back injury. Larry Walker sat for the second straight game. Albert Pujols did not start due to a sore upper right leg that is unrelated to his heel spurs. He may miss all of this series. Jim Edmonds returned after a day off.

On to the game…

Bucs second – Big jam
Craig Wilson was hit by a pitch and took third on a single by Humberto Cota. Luna seemed unprepared to make the throw to third, even though So got the ball in quickly. Ty Wigginton hit a 3-2 offering up the middle for an RBI single. A third straight single, this one by Brad Eldred loaded the bases with no out. A base hit and RBI for Rob Mackowiak occurred on a throw that Seabol couldn't handle. A 1-2-3 double play created breathing room and Nate McLouth fanned to end it. Bucs 2-0.

Cards second – SOS – Standing O for Sanders
With one out, Sanders stepped to the plate accompanied by a raucous welcome from the Busch fans.

Bucs third – Doubling down
Freddy Sanchez led off with a double to left that went over Sanders' head. He was stranded.

Cards third – A hit and a hit was it
Luna was hit by a pitch to become the first Cards baserunner. Eckstein then had the first Cards safety of the game. That was it.

Bucs fourth – Another mess for Mulder
Wigginton singled and tried to score from first on a double by Eldred, but a perfect relay by Eckstein and holding onto the ball on a jarring collision by Molina meant an important out at the plate. Eldred took third on a wild pitch before Mackowiak walked. After a sac moved Mack up, McLouth was hit by a pitch to load the bases again, but a force out ended it.

Cards fourth – Stealing a run
So lead off with a single. A dropped ball by Wigginton allowed So to take second as Molina was thrown out. Sanders ground out, as So moved up again. He alertly scored on a wild pitch. Bucs 2-1.

Bucs fifth – HBPs mount
With one out, Mulder hit Craig Wilson on the ankle for his second hit by pitch in the game and fourth overall. Cota took his place via a fielders' choice. Taguchi made a nice catch in right for the third out, or as Dan predictably said, "a dandy".

Cards fifth – One runner
Leading off, Nunez walked. Nunez flied out and Mulder had to run the bases in return for not being able to sacrifice.

Bucs seventh – Two on
Bay and Craig Wilson singled with two out, but did not advance.

Cards seventh – Albert again
Sanders led off with a walk and Schumaker pinch ran. Mabry greeted deposed Pirates closer Jose Mesa with a single. Nunez almost beat out a sac bunt to put two in scoring position with one out. Luna's sac fly knotted the score. Pujols pinch hit. Even though first base was open, the Pirates pitched to him. His broken bat blooper to right scored Mabry. Cards 3-2.

Bucs eighth – King brain cramps the lead away
Wigginton led off, greeting Julian Tavarez with a ground rule double that went over new left fielder Skip Schumaker's head. A chopper by Eldred over Nunez put runners on the corners. Enter Ray King. He induced a comebacker, but inexplicably threw to first instead of looking at the runner coming home from third. Wigginton scored the gift run. Mulder lost his win. Tie 3-3.

Bucs ninth – Izzy time
Jason Isringhausen retired the Bucs in order.

Cards ninth – Cards win
After showing bunt, Schumaker slapped a one-hopper off the wall. Mabry moved him over to third. After Nunez was intentionally walked, J-Rod's single ended the game. Cards 4-3.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh: Chris Carpenter vs. Ian Snell 7:10pm FSMW
Wednesday vs. Pittsburgh: Jason Marquis vs. Oliver Perez 2:10pm WB11
Thursday @ Cubs: Jeff Suppan vs. Mark Prior 7:05pm FSMW
Friday @ Cubs: Matt Morris vs. Glendon Rusch 2:20pm WB11
Saturday @ Cubs: Mark Mulder vs. Greg Maddux 12:15pm Big Fox
Sunday @ Cubs: Chris Carpenter vs. Carlos Zambrano 1:20pm WB11

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

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