Game Observations – Sunday – Cards 9-2

The Cardinals took the four-game weekend series three games to one over the Washington Nationals, winning on Sunday afternoon, 9-2.

The Cardinals took the four-game weekend series three games to one over the Washington Nationals, winning on Sunday afternoon, 9-2. The Cards improved their record to 17-8, while the Nats are now 8-17. The Redbirds pulled into a tie for the National League Central lead with their next opponent, the Cincinnati Reds. Both clubs have won eight of their last ten.

Jeff Suppan pitched six solid innings to collect his second win of the year, backed up by Adam Wainwright and Brad Thompson. A problem area all season wasn't on Sunday as the #2 hitters were productive. Starter John Rodriguez had two hits and drove in a run and relief man So Taguchi drove in three. Jim Edmonds also knocked in three hitting behind Albert Pujols, who was walked four times. Juan Encarnacion got the Cardinals on the board with a solo home run.

One year ago today
On April 30, 2005, the first-place Cards were defeated 3-2 by the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Matt Morris pitched well in the rain, but Al Reyes blew the game. Tony La Russa, upset about balls and strikes, along with what he felt was excessive complaining about calls by Braves manager Bobby Cox, led to his ejection from the game and quite a tirade afterward.

The match-up
Jeff Suppan opposed Zach Day, in his first start since returning to Washington by way of Colorado on a waiver claim.

The line-up
Eckstein, Rodriguez, Pujols, Edmonds, Spiezio, Encarnacion, Bennett, Miles and Suppan. Juan Encarnacion dropped back down to the #6 spot. John Rodriguez and Aaron Miles rejoined the starting nine as Hector Luna and So Taguchi sat. With the second most innings played by a catcher in the league and a sub-.200 batting average, Yadier Molina was given a needed day off. Scott Rolen was present and in uniform at the ballpark as he recovers from bronchitis. He will be traveling on the upcoming road trip. Eckstein and Pujols are the only Cardinals to start every game so far.

On to the game…

Nats first – A runner
Jose Vidro walked with one out to give the Nats their first baserunner of the afternoon. He never reached second.

Cards first – Twin killing
With one out, Rodriguez singled through the shortstop position, but Pujols hit a scorcher to third that was converted to a quick 5-4-3.

Nats second – Long ball
Ryan Zimmerman led off with a home run into the Washington bullpen. Marlon Byrd followed with a single. Miles scooped up a ball off the bat of Brian Schneider that Pujols couldn't handle on the backhand side and fired to Pujols for the first out. Royce Clayton took a free pass. Day tried to bunt, but popped up to a charging Spiezio as it began to rain. Soriano flied out to end the threat. Nats 1-0.

Cards second – Juan for one
After an Edmonds line drive bounced off Day's hip, he was checked out by his team's trainer. Accompanied by thunder, Encarnacion also hit the ball hard, but his didn't land until it arrived in the Cardinals bullpen. It was his second home run of the season. Tie 1-1.

Third inning – 1-2-3's
Nice to see Soup follow the rough inning with an easy one. But, he didn't get much rest as Day also breezed.

Nats fourth – Lead retaken
Zimmerman led off with a single to center and moved up on a wild pitch. He took third on a ground out when Miles and Suppan paired up for a nice defensive play. Schneider brought the run home with a single to right. Clayton also singled, but Suppan fanned Soriano for the third out. Nats 2-1.

Cards fourth – Juan es muy impaciente
Pujols drew a walk with one out. Spiezio's single to right put runners on the corners with two down. Encarnacion, first pitch swinging yet again, ground into an inning-ending force.

Nats fifth – Fast inning
Nothing doing.

Cards fifth – Edmonds makes them pay
Miles took a one-out walk and was moved up by Suppan. Eckstein legged out a single to deep short. That put runners at first and third for John Rodriguez. His hit to left center scored the run and allowed Eckstein to take third. Pujols took an unintentional intentional walk to load the bases. Jim Edmonds' first-pitch single up the middle quickly scored two. Spiezio took a called strike three to end it. Cards 4-2.

Nats sixth – Down fast
A nice, quick frame for Suppan.

Cards sixth – Doubling the lead
Jason Bergmann took the mound for Washington as the sun came out for the Cardinals. Encarnacion swung at the first pitch again, singling off that mound. Adam Wainwright began to warm up as Bennett bunted Juan up to second base. After going 2-0 on Miles, they went ahead and walked him to set up a possible force. John Gall pinch-hit for Suppan and reached on a slow roller to short that loaded the bases. Eckstein fanned swinging on a high, hard one. Lefty Joey Eischen was called up to pitch to John Rodriguez, so Tony La Russa countered with So Taguchi. So dropped a single in front of the centerfielder to score two more. Eischen was so rattled that he threw a wild pitch while intentionally walking Pujols. Edmonds took a called strike three to leave three on base. Cards 6-2.

Nats seventh – Adam's hook working
Adam Wainwright was trusted with the lead. Clayton didn't swing at a beautiful curve that dropped in for strike three. The same thing happened to Soriano for the final out.

Cards seventh – Felix the cat
Felix Rodriguez was the new pitcher. He got his three men.

Nats eighth – Wainwright is right
Wainwright continued on the mound. He walked Nick Johnson with one out, but it didn't matter as another curve taken looking ended the inning.

Cards eighth – Out of reach
Miles stroked a single to right center leading off. Jason Marquis pinch hit. He is only batting .143 on the season, but did collect a pinch hit earlier in the month. Between pitches, the ump checked the cupped out area on the end of Marquis' bat. Odd. After showing bunt, Rodriguez threw four straight balls. Eckstein's sacrifice bunt put two in scoring position. So Taguchi lofted a sacrifice fly to score the run. Pujols took another walk – his fourth of the game. Edmonds' single with runners on the corners scored one more. And, yet another RBI single, this one by Spiezio, caused Jon Rauch to be asked to pitch. He fanned Encarnacion, who swung wildly on a low, outside pitch to end the inning. Cards 9-2.

Nats ninth – Brad time
Brad Thompson worked the final inning. He plunked Marlon Byrd on the leg to start. Schneider singled. A 6-4-3 helped out and a fly to left ended it.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Monday at Reds: Mark Mulder vs. Bronson Arroyo 6:10pm FSNM
Tuesday at Reds: Sidney Ponson vs. Dave Williams 11:35am FSNM
Wednesday at Astros: Jason Marquis vs. Roy Oswalt 7:05pm FSNM
Thursday at Astros: Chris Carpenter vs. Andy Pettitte 7:05pm FSNM

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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