Walton's Game Observations – Wednesday – Bucs 5-3

The Cardinals were defeated by the Pittsburgh Pirates by a 5-3 mark Wednesday afternoon.

The St. Louis Cardinals fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates by a 5-3 score at Busch Stadium Wednesday afternoon. The Cardinals' best record in baseball is now 93-54 as they won two of the three-games in the midweek series.

Jason Marquis faced Oliver Perez. In six innings, Marquis allowed eight hits while fanning five. Three of his four runs allowed came via home runs, two by rookie Brad Eldred. Marquis also had a wild pitch and a costly error and took loss #14 on the season as a result.

The recent offensive weakness continued, with a total of six hits despite the fact that the Cards got into the Bucs' pen in the second inning. They received eight walks, but didn't make the Pirates pay. Einar Diaz had a single, double, walk and RBI. Mark Grudzielanek celebrated his return to the lineup with two singles, a walk and a run scored.

All downhill from here?
In addition to potentially clinching Wednesday, it is worthy of noting the remaining schedule. Of the 16 games remaining, only two are against teams with a winning record. (Houston the last week of the season.) Such is the joy of competing in the NL Central. Six are home and ten away.

Perry back
Pirates hitting coach Gerald Perry returned from his ten game suspension for punching Dave Duncan. His old boss, Lloyd McClendon, won't be coming back, though.

Sore about "sore knee"
Bob Carpenter recounted the story about how the recent bad blood between the Cardinals and Pirates began. While he correctly noted that Hector Luna took out Jose Castillo at second base, Carpenter gave it a home team spin by stating that Castillo was "out with a sore knee" as a result. The truth is that he suffered a season-ending torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee on August 22.

Stan the Man respected
Most of the Cardinals players came out of the dugout to salute Stan Musial, who removed the number "6" from the Busch Countdown Clock. Walt Jocketty and Bruce Manno were also caught on camera joining in the standing ovation from the boxes.

Como se dice Molina?
Why does Bob Carpenter keep pronouncing the Cardinals' catcher's last name "Mo-LEEEEEEN-ah"? Irritating.

Just wondering
…why they didn't name the new ballpark "Busch Field". Keep the important part of the name, while at the same time, giving the new place its own identity. Too late now.

Wednesday's lineup
Eckstein, Grudzielanek, Pujols, Gall (lf), Taguchi (rf), Seabol (3b), Diaz, Luna (cf) and Marquis. Mark Grudzielanek returned after missing six straight games due to a back injury. Larry Walker sat for the third straight game. Albert Pujols returned after a couple of games out as he nursed his sore upper right leg. Jim Edmonds took a break.

On to the game…

Bucs first – Good and bad start
Marquis started off with strikeouts of Nate McLouth and Jack Wilson. However, Jason Bay put a 1-0 slider into the Cardinals' pen. No sinker. Rob Mackowiak reached via a swinging bunt as Marquis slipped and fell down. Jack Wilson singled. A forceout at second finally ended it. Bucs 1-0.

Cards first – First runner
Albert drew a two-out walk.

Bucs second – Another non-sinker leaves the house
Brad Eldred slammed out a curveball to left. No sinker. Bucs 2-0.

Cards second – Ollie out
Molina drew a two-out walk. Luna was hit on the thigh by a Perez pitch. Luna stepped toward Perez, who said something that caused the home plate umpire, Eric Cooper, to immediately eject him from the game. Cooper must be bilingual. The benches were warned as Ryan Vogelsong came in to pitch.

Bucs third – Not all that wild
Mackowiak walked with two outs and moved up on a wild pitch that was at least half passed ball on Diaz. Mack was stranded.

Cards third – Leadoff runner wasted
Eckstein led off with a walk and sprinted to first base, as always. Grudz hit into a double play, though.

Cards fourth – No hitter and shutout gone
Taguchi singled up the middle with one out for the Cards first hit of the day. He stole second with two outs as catcher Ryan Doumit made a terrible throw. So scored as Diaz stuck out the bat and shot a double into the left field corner. Diaz advanced on a Vogelsong wild pitch. Luna walked, but that was it. Bucs 2-1.

Bucs fifth – Marquis hurts cause
Tike Redman reached via a leadoff pinch-hit single. On a comebacker, Marquis threw wildly to second, as both runners were safe. Bay doubled off the left field wall, scoring the run. Two more in scoring position. Marquis fanned Craig Wilson looking to end it. Bucs 3-1.

Cards fifth – Good chance missed
Eckstein led off with a walk against Josh Fogg. La Russa came out to check on Eck at first, as he was in a collision on the Marquis wild throw play in the top of the inning. Grudz singled up the middle. Eck took third on a fly ball to the track by Albert. Gall popped out and So flied out.

Bucs sixth – Third longball for bad guys
Eldred golfed a home run over the Pirates pen with one out. Bucs 4-1.

Cards sixth – Edmonds for Marquis
Diaz singled with one out. Marquis' day ended as Jim Edmonds pinch hit. Nada.

Bucs seventh – Bay is really good
Cal Eldred took over. Bay singled with two out. He was stranded.

Cards seventh – Creeping closer
Against John Grabow, John Rodriguez drew a leadoff walk. Then Grudz reached on a walk, too, and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Albert's ground out did score one, then Gall's fly ball plated a second. Bucs 4-3.

Bucs ninth – An insurance run
Freddy Sanchez singled off Nunez with Tavarez on the mound. He scored as Gall, playing left, made a diving attempt on a liner by Redman, but the ball hit off his glove. No further damage. Bucs 5-3.

Cards ninth – No ninth inning magic this day
With Salomon Torres pitching for his second inning, lead off man J-Rod became the eighth Cardinal of the game walked. Grudz singled to right. Albert stepped in with the game on the line but nubbed a ball to Torres as the runners moved up. Larry Walker was announced, but when Mike Gonzalez was brought in to pitch, Reggie Sanders hit instead. Or, should I say he tried to hit, fanning swinging. So grounded out to end it.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
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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