Game Observations – Saturday – Cards 9-3

In the second game of the three-game weekend series in the new Busch Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the Cardinals defeated the Cincinnati Reds by a 9-3 score to even the series at one game apiece.

At the new Busch Stadium, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Cincinnati Reds by a 9-3 mark on Saturday afternoon.

Sidney Ponson allowed two runs on five hits in 6-1/3 innings to earn his first win as a Cardinal. Albert Pujols doubled and hit a home run, driving in two and Scott Spiezio added a two-run homer. Hector Luna was the hitting star with three hits including a home run of his own and three RBI, with two runs scored.

I feel so much better about the off-season now
In the midst of a flood of gushing praise, Rick Horton went a bridge too far when he likened Skip Schumaker to Brian Giles. Schumaker, hitting .250 for the season, was 0-for-3 on the day at the time. When we last checked, Giles had signed a three-year contract for almost $10 million per season.

Jackie Robinson Day
There is a great reason to celebrate this day in history of the game of baseball. Remember that #42 is permanently retired across all of Major League Baseball.

Luna runs faster now?
Horton asserted that not only is Hector Luna a better baserunner than when he was first selected in the Rule 5 draft two years ago, but his raw speed has also increased. I buy the first point, but the second one is just silly.

The match-up
Sidney Ponson was opposed by Dave Williams.

The line-up
Eckstein, Taguchi, Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion, Molina, Luna, Schumaker and Ponson. Jim Edmonds takes a day off to rest a sore shoulder, with So Taguchi sliding over to center and Skip Schumaker in left. So was elevated from #6 to #2, while Encarnacion was put in the #5 hole. Hector Luna took a start at second base over Aaron Miles.

On to the game…

Reds first – Dunn wrong
Ponson collected a pair of quick ground outs before lefty Adam Dunn hammered a ball into the seats in right. Rick Horton had just observed that lefties punished Ponson to the tune of a .360 average last season. Reds 1-0.

Cards first – Juan misses out, but Molina doesn't
With one out, the #2 batter Taguchi hit one off the wall in left as Dunn pulled back from the ball even though it looked catchable. Pujols was carefully walked to put two on for Rolen. For Albert, it is 12 walks in 11 games, with only two walk-less games so far. Rolen took a free pass to load the bases but Encarnacion popped out. Molina relieved the pressure with a two-run single to left-center. Luna stroked a single to left for the third RBI. As Dunn wandered around in left, Schumaker flied out to end it. Cards 3-1.

Reds second – Good frame
Ponson continued smoothly, with a strikeout in between a couple more grounders.

Cards second – Two more
Eckstein singled with one out and after So just missed a double, came home on a Pujols home run to left. It was his fifth of the season. Cards 5-1.

Reds third – Two-out trouble
Freel reached on a two-out single on a shot to the right of a diving Pujols. Lopez followed with a double to put two in scoring position. Ponson carved up Dunn on three straight pitches for an impressive inning-ending strikeout.

Cards third – Luna shot
Luna made a statement for earning more playing time by parking a baseball in the left-field bullpen with one out. Cards 6-1.

Reds fourth – Good "D"
Rich Aurilia doubled into left leading off. Then, Ponson walked Hatteberg. A 6-4-3 helped immensely. Luna showed off his good arm on the relay. Kearns whiffed to end the frame.

Cards fourth – Juan misses out
Against Matt Belisle, Pujols stroked a two-out double to the right-center gap. Rolen was walked for the third consecutive time. Why not with Encarnacion next? He continued his tepid stretch with a GIDP to end the inning.

Reds sixth – Sid cruising
Ponson has retired seven in a row.

Cards sixth – Big guys misfire
Ponson drew a four-pitch walk leading off. Perhaps they wanted him to get tired on the bases. Belisle muffed Eckstein's bunt to put two on. So badly failed on a two-strike bunt before Pujols fanned and Rolen ground into a force.

Reds seventh – Albert with the glove
Edwin Encarnacion doubled past third with one out. La Russa gave Ponson the quick hook in favor of Brad Thompson. A Kearns single up the middle scored the run. Pujols stabbed Valentin's sinking liner for an unassisted double play. Cards 6-2.

Cards seventh – Taking the run back and more
Against Mike Burns, Encarnacion was given a gift double as Adam Dunn made a sliding mis-attempt to catch his liner. Molina bunted him up to third. Luna singled the run home with a clean shot to right. Scott Spiezio, pinch-hitting, hit a first-pitch home run into the seats in right. A curtain call ensued. Eckstein's grounder was muffed at first, but he was thrown out trying to take second. Cards 9-2.

Reds eighth – Everyone into roles
Braden Looper was asked to take his eighth inning role. With a seven-run lead, he should be able to handle it and did 1-2-3, with some good defensive help from his infielders.

Reds ninth – Hancock ends it
Ricardo Rincon fanned Dunn leading off. Aurilia took a walk. Even with a seven-run lead, Jason Isringhausen began to warm up. After another strikeout, Encarnacion was plunked by a pitch. Kearns doubled into the left field corner to score Aurilia. Josh Hancock was asked to get the final out and did, fanning his former battery-mate Valentin for the Cards' seventh strikeout of the day. Cards 9-3.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Sunday vs. Reds: Mark Mulder vs. Bronson Arroyo 1:15pm WB11
Monday at Pirates: Jason Marquis vs. Paul Maholm 6:05pm FSNM
Tuesday at Pirates: Jeff Suppan vs. Oliver Perez 6:05pm FSNM
Wednesday at Pirates: Chris Carpenter vs. Victor Santos 11:35am FSNM
Thursday: Open day

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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