Cards Sweep Bucs with 4-3 Victory

The Cardinals complete the sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 4-3 win Wednesday in front of the sold out crowd in Busch Stadium.



Pittsburgh Pirates (5-17) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (13-7)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006



Game Observations

Mark Mulder (2-0) 3.86 vs. Zach Duke (1-2, 4.50)



The St. Louis Cardinals are looking to sweep the Pirates in today's game at Busch, Stadium. The Cardinals last three-game sweep of the Pirates in St. Louis came last season from May 23-25, with Mark Mulder earning the win in the final game, an 11-5 outcome.

Mulder will be trying to do the same thing today, making his fifth start of the season. So far the Cardinals are 4-0 in his starts, including a dramatic 9-8 win over the Reds back on April the 16th in a game where the lead changed five times, including an Albert Pujols' walk off home run.

Three of Mulder's first four starts have been quality starts and he has pitched an average of 7.0 innings per game.

Mulder will face Zack Duke, who brings a record of 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA to the game today.

Duke, the 23 year old left-hander is also making his fifth start of the season. The Pirates have been involved in three one-run games in Zach's four starts. In addition to his last start, he had a no-decision in Pittsburgh's 3-2 loss on April 5 in Milwaukee. His first and only win of the young season came on April 15.

Here are the starting lineups for today's game;



#6 Chris Duffy 8

#2 Jack Wilson 6

#38 Jason Bay 7

#36 C. Wilson 9

#5 J. Randa 5

#26 J. Hernandez 3

#14 J. Castillo 4

#56 Ronny Paulino 2

#57 Zack Duke 1



#22 D. Eckstein 6

#7 H. Luna 7

#5 A. Pujols 3

#43 J. Encarnacion 9

#26 Scott Speizio 5

#99 S. Taguchi 8

#4 Y. Molina 2

#12 A. Miles 4

#30 M. Mulder 1




Game Notes

The Cardinals win last night over the Pirates ensures their sixth series win of the seven they've played. The Redbirds have won five of their last six.

The Pirates have lost six straight games and eight of their last nine. The six-game losing streak matches their season high - they also lost six in a role to start the season.







First pitch at 12:10, Game time Temperature 54 and partly cloudy


The Pirates Chris Duffy opened the game with a single up the middle under the glove of Aaron Miles near the bag.

Jack Wilson the Pirates shortstop and former St. Louis Cardinal Prospect, sacrificed Duffy to second on a SAC 2-3.

Mulder walked Jason Bay, putting runners at first and second with one out.

Right fielder Craig Wilson, batting four grounded out into a 6-4-3 double play.




Opponents have now scored in the 1st inning in 14 of the Pirates first 22 games this season. The Bucs have allowed 28 first inning runs.

The Cardinals will look to add to that number.


Eckstein leads of the bottom half of the first with a bases on balls.

Luna hitting .432 stands in at the plate. Luna recorded his 2nd 3-hit game of the season last night. He has multi-hit games in five of his eight starts.

Luna sacrifices Eckstein to second, with a SAC 2-3.

Albert Pujols is intentionally walked, putting runners on first and second with Juan Encarnacion coming to the plate.

Encarnacion is hitting just .091 (2-22) with runners in scoring position (RISP). Juan is starting to hit, in this series he is 4 for 8 with a home run.

With runners at first and second, Juan, strikes out swinging, leaving runners at first and second with two outs.

Scott Spiezio, in for Rolen at third, who is day to day with bronchitis, steps to the plate and lines a single to right, scoring Eckstein from second. Albert Pujols is tagged out, on a 9-3-5 play, between second and third, to end the inning.






Randa leads off the second, and pops up to Miles at second.

Hernandez grounds out to Spiezio, 5-3.

Castillo flies to Encarnacion in right about 10 feet in front of the warning track.



So Taguchi, leads off base hit to right, steals second as Molina strikes out.

Aaron Miles drives a single up through center field to score Taguchi from second.

Mulder moves Miles to second on a SAC 1-3.

Eckstein grounds to first, to end the inning.






Mulder makes quick work of Pittsburgh as he settles in on the mound. It's three up, three down in the third. 333, lucky numbers. You can win if you don't play.

Paulino flies to center.

Duke ground outs to first.

Duff grounds out to Mulder.


Luna leads off the bottom of the inning. Luna playing in left today, started the day hitting .625 in this series, the reason he is getting the start.

Luna beats out a grounder to third for a base hit. This isn't the same guy we saw in spring training folks.

Pujols hits into a 6-4-3 double play.

Encarnacion steps into the batter box with the bases empty. Works the count to 2-2, 3-2, before grounding out to Randa, 5-3.

At the end of three it's St. Louis 2 and the Bad Guys 0.





Jack Wilson will lead off the fourth for the Bucs. Wilson has an 8 game hitting streak on the line today. Wilson hitting .370 against left-handers, flies to right.

Mulder walks Bay.

Walks will kill you. On a 0-1 pitch, Craig Wilson hit a 2-run home run over the left-center fence above the Ameren sign.

Randa gets a base hit to left.

Jose Hernandez hit's a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Going into the bottom of the fourth, it 2-2.



Spiezio leads off the inning with a base hit to right. I like this guy coming in off the bench. Scott hit his second home run of the season last night.

Taguchi drives a single to left and moves Spiezio to second. Runners on first and second with no outs. Yadier Molina coming to the plate.

Molina started the day hitting .455 with RISP, hits into a 5-3 DP.

Miles with Taguchi at second base, with two outs. With Mulder on-deck the Pirates try to get Miles to hit a bad pitch, before intentionally walking him.

Runners at first and second with two outs and the pitcher Mark Mulder at the plate.

Mulder grounds out to second to end the inning.

The score is 2-2 at the end of four.







Castillo will lead off for the Bucs. He has gone 7-for-34 with an RBI in his last 11 games.

Castillo hit's the first pitch down the left field line FOUL. A close one, the Bucs almost took the lead.

Castillo, strikes out, 2-3 on the putout.

The catcher, Ronny Paulino is up with one out and the bases empty. Paulino was rated by Baseball America as being the Pirates organization's best defensive catcher, prior to the 05/06 season.

Paulino hit's a single to left.

Duke, SAC 3-4, moves Paulino to second with two outs.

Duffy steps to the plate. Duffy started the day hitting just .063 (.063) against left-handed pitchers this season.

Mulder walks Duffy, bringing Jack Wilson to the plate. Wilson 0-for-2 for the day, grounds to short to end the inning.



Eckstein leads off the inning and drives a stand up double down the right field line.

Luna steps in with Eck at second and no outs.

Going into today's game Luna was hitting .778 (7-9) with runners in scoring position.

Eckstein takes third on a run and hit and Luna grounds to short.

The Pirates draw the wrath of Cardinal Nation as they intentionally walk Pujols for the second time of the day.

Runners at first and third for Juan Encarnacion. Juan had a break-out game last night. Doubled in a run in the first, hit a 2-run HR in the 3rd and tripled home a run in the fifth. Juan also had his first hit with RISP since opening day.

Encarnacion hit's a sacrifice fly to center to score Eckstein from third.

Spiezio flies out center.

The Cardinals pick up a run and take the lead on the sacrifice fly by Encarnacion.





Jason Bay flies out to Luna in left.

Craig Wilson who hit a 2-run homer in the 4th, draws a walk out of Mulder.

Randa at the plate with Wilson at first and just one out.

Randa has hit safely in eight of his last 10 starts with a single back in the fourth inning. He grounds into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Mulder escapes getting burned by the lead off walk and as the Cardinals come to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning it's the Cards 3 and the Bucs 2.



So Taguchi to the plate to start the inning. Taguchi is 2-for-2 with a stolen base and a run scored so far. Hitting .500 for the series as he stands in to face Duke.

Taguchi draws a walk.

Molina sprays a single to left.

Miles is up with runners at first and second with no outs and flies to right.

Mulder steps up for the second time today with runners in scoring position and SAC 5-3, moving runners to second and third.

Eckstein up, with two outs and two runners in scoring position, grounds to short.







Hernandez grounds to short.

Castillo picks up his first hit of the day to left center.

Paulino hits into the fourth double play of the day.



The Pirates send Solomon Torres to the mound to start the 7th.

Luna strikes out.

Pujols hit's a single to left.

Encarnacion, pops up to short.

Pujols moves to second on a pass ball and Speizio takes a called strike three.





Freddy Sanchez is in to pinch hit for Solomon Torres and he fouls out to Pujols.

Duffy grounds out to Pujols. Wilson walks and Mulder leaves the game.

Braden Looper is in the game to face Jason Bay.

Looper has not allowed a run in 7 of his 8 outings and lowered his ERA to 1.74 with a perfect inning pitched last night.

Bay flies to left, to end the inning.

I talked with Braden last night he said he was really hitting his spots against right-handers and were working left-handers on the outside of the plate and didn't want to make a mistake inside with left-handers, though he knows he needs to be able to pitch inside to left-handers but not to the point of making a mistake over the plate.

An interesting point, I thought, because there has been some talk about him coming inside, but he seems a little concern about adapting and trying to pitch inside to left-handers. It will be interesting to watch.

So Taguchi, strikes out to start the 8th, followed by Molina and Miles who both fly out.

The Cardinals hold onto a 3-2 lead, with Jason Isringhausen coming into the game.







Wilson strikes out to start the ninth.

Randa grounds out.

Hernandez homers to left. Izzy blows the save.

Castillo flies to right.

Going to the bottom of the ninth - it is all tied up at three a piece.




J-Rod pinch hits for Izzy, takes called strike three.

Eckstein and Luna get back to back base hits.

Albert Pujols comes up with runners on first and second and a chance to win the game with a single stroke of the bat.

Fans are on their feet, as he works the count to two balls and two strikes and Pujols drives a hit down the right field line to score Eckstein from second. Cards win.

Isringhausen picks up the win, Solomon Hernandez the loss.

The Cardinals complete the sweep and improve to 14-7 and the Pirates fall to 6-18.



Mark Mulder pitched 7.2 innings and allowed two run on five hits for the no-decision. He allowed a season high five walks.

Albert Pujols delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth to score David Eckstein for the victory. Pujols has the game-winning RBI in four of the Cardinals last five wins.

Jason Isringhausen suffered his second blown save of the season...however, the win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Cardinals' closer.

The Cardinals batted .361 (35-97) in sweeping the three-game series. The Redbirds have won six of their last seven games.



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