Game Observations – Sunday – Cubs 7-3

On Sunday afternoon, the Chicago Cubs salvaged the final game of the three-game series as they defeated the Cardinals 7-3 behind future Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux.

On Sunday afternoon, the Chicago Cubs salvaged the final game of the three-game series as they defeated the Cardinals 7-3 behind future Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux. In the process, the Cubs improved their record to 10-7, while the Cards dropped to 11-7.

The Cardinals played sloppily as Jason Marquis had a damaging error and a wild pitch and Aaron Miles made two miscues. Marquis ended up being charged with seven runs in six-plus innings. Brad Thompson allowed two inherited runners to score. Maddux allowed just five hits in seven innings. Scott Rolen singled and doubled twice, but lacked anyone to drive him in. Gary Bennett, who came in late, had two doubles and two RBI. Juan Encarnacion was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

One year ago today
On April 23, 2005, the Cardinals took their second straight at home over the Astros, as Mark Mulder and mates won in the tenth inning, 1-0. Larry Walker's one-out walk-off double off Astros' closer Brad Lidge scored Reggie Sanders. Mulder allowed just four hits with no walks and bested Roger Clemens in the process. The Cardinals' record improved to 11-5 and their NL Central grew to 3.5 games.

The Bigbie watch
Larry Bigbie did not start on Sunday. He is 3-for-16 (.188) with seven strikeouts in his rehab assignment. Fortunately, he has two weeks to go.

The Spivey watch
It just isn't happening for Junior. As I type this, he is 0-for-3 on Sunday with two strikeouts. Spivey's season mark is .190.

The match-up
Once again, former Atlanta Braves teammates Jason Marquis and future Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux faced off. It will be interesting to see if they attempt any stolen bases against one another like on May 3, 2004.

The line-up
Eckstein, Encarnacion, Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Rodriguez, Molina, Miles and Marquis. Juan Encarnacion was plugged back into the #2 hole, while John Rodriguez and Aaron Miles replaced So Taguchi and Hector Luna. Encarnacion came into the game with a .345 career mark against Maddux.

On to the game…

Cubs first – Early Trouble
Ronny Cedeno tripled into the right-field corner with one out. Todd Walker was plunked in the arm on a 1-2 pitch. Aramis Ramirez took a four-pitch walk to load the bases. Michael Barrett bounced into a 6-4-3 to end the threat.

Cards first – Good guys threaten, too
David Eckstein worked a leadoff walk but Encarnacion popped out to short and Pujols popped out to second base. Rolen doubled into the left center field gap as he took advantage of Juan Pierre's weak arm with a headfirst slide into the bag. I wish he wouldn't slide that way, though. Eckstein stayed at third. Edmonds fanned for the third out.

Cubs second – No harm
Matt Murton drew a one-out walk. Pujols turned Neifi Perez' grounder into a force out on the lead runner. Maddux' weak grounder was out #3.

Cards second – Same shape
J-Rod fanned looking. Miles stroked a seeing-eye single up the middle with two down, but Marquis ground out. Both teams went through the opposing nine hitters in two innings.

Cubs third – Caught up with Marquis
Pierre doubled and Cedeno moved him up. Walker collected an RBI single as Miles made a throwing error on the play, allowing Walker to move into scoring position. Encarnacion and Edmonds almost collided in the outfield when catching a fly ball for the third out. Cubs 1-0.

Cards third – Juan sandwich
Encarnacion fanned in between two ground outs.

Cubs fourth – Make it two
The leadoff man Jacque Jones homered to right near the foul pole. Pujols made a nice unassisted play on a Perez drag bunt. Cubs 2-0.

Cards fourth – Failure to execute
The first batter up, Rolen singled. Edmonds flailed on a outside pitch, missing the ball on a hit-and-run as Rolen was nailed easily sliding into second base. J-Rod singled up the middle on a full count with two down, but Molina ground out.

Cubs fifth – No room for mistakes
Leading off, Miles took his second error of the game as he muffed a grounder from Pierre. Cedeno sacrificed him over. With two down, Aramis Ramirez parked a pitch deep in the Cardinals' bullpen. The runs were unearned. Cubs 4-0.

Cards fifth – Wait him out?
Maddux is breezing. Not good.

Cubs sixth – First time this day
Marquis had a 1-2-3 inning.

Cards sixth – Another RISP wasted
With two out, Rolen smacked another double, this one off the top of the wall in dead center. But, Edmonds hit a lazy fly to center.

Cubs seventh – More sloppy play
Maddux singled to right and moved up on a wild pitch that looked more like a passed ball to me. Marquis fumbled Pierre's bunt for an error as Maddux took third. Cedeno singled under Rolen's glove to score Maddux. Brad Thompson took over on the mound as Marquis' day ended in frustration. Todd Walker singled both baserunners home. Cubs 7-0.

Cards seventh – Looking weak
Three quick ground outs.

Cubs eighth – Cards wave white flag?
Josh Hancock took over. Interestingly, in a double switch, Scott Spiezio came in defensively for Scott Rolen, even though Rolen had 3/5 of the Cardinals hits on the day up to that point.

Cards eighth – Emptying the bench
Pinch-hitter Gary Bennett doubled off the right field wall leading off against reliever Roberto Novoa. Pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker ground out and Bennett moved up. Pinch-hitter Hector Luna doubled into left-center, easily scoring the run. Given Miles' two errors today, Luna should be getting another start very soon. Cubs 7-1.

Cubs ninth – Getting it over
Randy Flores was asked to get in some work. Juan Pierre reached base for the fourth time with a single to left, but John Mabry's pinch-hit double play grounder ended it.

Cards ninth – Making it respectable
Closer Ryan Dempster allowed a leadoff double to Edmonds into left center. It was the Cardinals' fifth double of the day in a game where a few more RBI singles would have been most welcome. Edmonds was almost picked off as Rodriguez reached on an infield single. So Taguchi pinch hit and looked TERRIBLE, fanning on three pitches. Miles also fanned swinging. Bennett doubled on his first pitch into the right field corner, scoring two. John Mabry made a nice stop on the 27th out off the bat of Schumaker. Cubs 7-3.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Monday vs. Pirates: Chris Carpenter vs. Oliver Perez 7:10pm FSNM
Tuesday vs. Pirates: Jeff Suppan vs. Victor Santos 7:10pm FSNM
Wednesday vs. Pirates: Mark Mulder vs. Zach Duke 12:10pm FSNM/ESPN
Thursday vs. Nationals: Sidney Ponson vs. Ramon Ortiz 7:10pm FSNM
Friday vs. Nationals: Jason Marquis vs. Tony Armas, Jr. 7:10pm FSNM
Saturday vs. Nationals: Chris Carpenter vs. Livan Hernandez 1:15pm WB11
Sunday vs. Nationals: Jeff Suppan vs. Billy Traber 1:15pm WB11

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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