Game Observations – Tuesday – Reds 3-2

The Cincinnati Reds took both games of the two-game series against the Cardinals, winning 3-2 on Tuesday afternoon. New arrival Brian Falkenborg took the loss.

The Cincinnati Reds took both games of the two-game series against the Cardinals, winning 3-2 on Tuesday afternoon. The Reds improved their record to 19-8, while the Cards are now 17-10.

Sidney Ponson carried a shutout into the sixth inning, but was done in by back-to-back solo home runs by Adam Dunn and Edwin Encarnacion. Dropped into the fire right away, newly-promoted reliever Brian Falkenborg gave up the winning run in the ninth inning.

On the positive side, thought it won't be obvious from the box score, Yadier Molina's defense was an important part of the game as he picked one runner off base and threw out another trying to steal. He was also on base twice with a single and a walk. David Eckstein and Aaron Miles each singled twice. Juan Encarnacion hit a solo home run. But, it wasn't enough.

One year ago today
On May 2, 2005, the Cards' seven-run ninth inning led to a 10-9 win at Cincy in the biggest final-inning comeback victory in the history of Cardinals franchise, which includes over 17,500 games since 1892.

Former Cards in the News
2004 Cardinals second baseman Tony Womack went unclaimed and is now a free agent. Any team signing him will only have to pay a pro-rated portion of the major league minimum salary. The Reds (and Yankees) owe the rest. Speaking of... Reliever Jeff Nelson signed a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox. Nelson was one of the Cardinals final cuts this spring.

The match-up
Sidney Ponson opposed former Pittsburgh Pirate Dave Williams, who came over in a trade for popular former Reds' first baseman Sean Casey.

The line-up
Eckstein, Gall, Luna, Encarnacion, Spiezio, Taguchi, Molina, Miles and Ponson. John Gall received his first start, in left field. Scott Spiezio moved to first to cover for Albert Pujols' first day off this season due to his back injury. Hector Luna took over at third. Jim Edmonds also took the day off.

On to the game…

Cards first – First blood
Eckstein singled to left leading off and John Gall added a single to right. Adam Dunn made a nice running catch off Encarnacion in left, but Scott Spiezio delivered a big two-out RBI single. It sure would have been nice to get more from Williams. Cards 1-0.

Reds first – A good start
The top three hitters were retired in order.

Cards second – RISP stranded
A leadoff walk was issued to Molina. He took second on a one-out sacrifice by Ponson, but Eckstein couldn't get him home.

Reds second – One runner
Scott Hatteberg walked with one down, but was eventually forced out at second base to end the inning.

Cards third – One run, but not two
Luna singled leading off, but was caught stealing with Encarnacion at the plate. Unfortunately, Juan homered just after that to left. It was Encarnacion's third consecutive game with a home run and fourth overall. Cards 2-0.

Reds third – First hit
Dave Williams singled for the first Reds hit of the day. He was forced out by Freel, but that was it.

Cards fourth – A little something
Miles singled with two out, but was stranded there as Ponson grounded out.

Reds fourth – Lotsa Encarnacions
Edwin Encarnacion singled with one down and moved up as Hatteberg walked. Juan Encarnacion made an especially nice catch in foul territory for the second out. He also made the third putout.

Cards fifth – Another runner
Luna walked with two down, but was left there. He didn't have time to attempt another steal, though it still would have been a decent idea.

Reds fifth – Yadi's gun
Freel singled to center with two out, but Molina caught him napping at first to end the inning on a down note for the Reds. Even though he is not hitting, Molina reminds us of his value.

Cards sixth – Gun misfires
Breaking an 0-for-16 skid, Molina singled to reach base for the second time on the day. However, he was caught off base and tagged out between first and second bases to end the inning.

Reds sixth – B2B jacks means lead lost
With one out, Adam Dunn smacked a line drive home run to right that bounced off the foul pole. Edwin Encarnacion followed with another home run into the bullpen in left center. Kearns singled to center with two out, but was forced out at second base to end it. Tie 2-2.

Cards seventh – Great chance falls short
Miles singled to right leading off. Jason Marquis pinch hit and hit the ball to the right side, moving Miles up. Eckstein was hit on the toe by a pitch. After Gall fanned, Rick White took over on the mound for Williams with two out and Luna coming up. La Russa countered with Jim Edmonds pinch hitting. Unfortunately, he flied out to center. Subsequently, Edmonds played defensively at first base before moving to his regular center field position.

Reds seventh – Runner held at third
Braden Looper took over on the mound. Jason LaRue greeted him with a single to center. A pair of productive outs put LaRue on third base. Randy Flores came on to face Felipe Lopez. Taguchi made a nice running catch in deep right center while narrowly avoiding a collision with a diving Juan Encarnacion to end the inning.

Cards eighth – Progress slowed
Dependable set-up man Todd Coffey took over and retired the three Cards hitters in order.

Reds eighth – Threat turned back
Edwin Encarnacion drew a one-out walk against Flores. Number 40, Brian Falkenborg was called on with two out to face Kearns. In a huge play, Molina threw out Encarnacion trying to steal second base.

Cards ninth – Golden opportunity missed
Coffey continued on the mound. John Rodriguez, who had entered in the top of the inning, stepped to the plate with two outs and singled up the middle. David Eckstein singled, too. Jason Isringhausen is warmed up and ready. Unfortunately, John Gall fanned for the third time in a row.

Reds ninth – Falkenborg flubs
Austin Kearns singled and Brandon Phillips was hit by a pitch as he was trying to bunt the runner over. La Russa came out to the mound in a rare non-pitching change visit. LaRue dropped down an 0-2 bunt. Falkenborg could have nailed Kearns at third, but never looked there, throwing to first instead. Javier Valentin pinch-hit with one out. His base hit to right ended the game. Reds 3-2.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Wednesday at Astros: Jason Marquis vs. Roy Oswalt 7:05pm FSNM
Thursday at Astros: Chris Carpenter vs. Andy Pettitte 7:05pm FSNM
Friday at Marlins: Jeff Suppan vs. Sergio Mitre 6:35pm FSNM
Saturday at Marlins: Mark Mulder vs. Dontrelle Willis 5:05pm FSNM
Sunday at Marlins: Sidney Ponson vs. Scott Olsen 12:05pm WB11

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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