Game Observations – Friday – Cards 5-3

The Cardinals opened their three-game home weekend series against the Arizona Diamondbacks on a high note, winning 5-3 on Friday evening.

The Cardinals opened their three-game home weekend series against the Arizona Diamondbacks on a high note, winning 5-3 on Friday evening. The Birds have won three straight and six of seven. Their 23-13 record marks the first time all season they have been ten games over .500.

Six was the number for Mark Mulder as he allowed six hits while also striking out six in six innings. But, only two runners scored. Brad Thompson extended his team-best scoreless streak to 14-1/3 innings with 1-1/3 clean frames. Jason Isringhausen earned his 11th save.

Jim Edmonds extended his hitting streak to eight games with a two-run, go-ahead home run in the fifth inning. David Eckstein had his third straight multi-hit game and Albert Pujols drove in his 44th RBI of the season.

One year ago today
On May 12, 2005, the Cardinals took three of four as they defeated the Dodgers 10-3 at Busch. Chris Carpenter beat former Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe and fanned eight in seven innings. David Eckstein went 3-for-4, including a double and a triple, and added a walk. John Mabry contributed in place of Scott Rolen, with two hits, including a two-RBI double. On the downside, Albert Pujols amazingly struck out three times and Eckstein erred twice in the field. The Redbirds' record improved to 22-12, extending their NL Central lead to 4-1/2 games.

New Retired Numbers
Friday's game offered the debut of new retired numbers on the left field wall. The mini circles also remain under the scoreboard, with Jack Buck and Rogers Hornsby now included on both. However, these two half-baked memorials together do not come anywhere near the former Busch's set-up. I have the same disappointment with the smallish video screen and the illegible scoreboard. But, I will stop there…

Reyes on Saturday in KC?
Look for Anthony Reyes to be given a start when the #5 man in the rotation is needed. By my calculation, that will be Saturday in Kansas City.

The match-up
Mark Mulder faced former Braves and A's right-hander Juan Cruz. The Diamondbacks' rotation slipped a day due to Thursday's rainout in Pittsburgh, only the tenth time in PNC Bank Park history that happened.

The line-up
Eckstein, Rodriguez, Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, Encarnacion, Molina, Miles and Mulder.

On to the game…

D'backs first – Nice finish!
Damion Easley drew a one-out walk. Mulder fanned Chad Tracy and then Molina picked Easley off first. And, that was that.

Cards first – News flash: Pujols collects first RBI
Leading off as always, Eckstein singled past a diving Tracy at first. John Rodriguez followed with a single up the middle. On a 3-1 count, Pujols singled over the second baseman to score Eckstein. Edmonds clubbed a ball that right fielder Shawn Green caught with his back against the 375 foot sign in right. Rodriguez scored on the sac fly. Rolen flied out to center and Encarnacion was out on a close play 6-3. Cards 2-0.

D'backs second – Ground balls erase most ills
Luis Gonzalez led off with a full-count single to center. Conor Jackson hit into a smooth 5-4-3 to clear the sacks the good way. Shawn Green swung and missed at strike three to end the frame.

Cards second – Bottom feeders
The bottom of the order didn't do anything other than record three outs.

D'backs third – Ole'
Mulder walkd his opposite number with two down. Molina and Pujols came over for a quick chat. Eric Byrnes singled past Rolen. Scott tried to back hand it on his knee, but sort of ole'd it. Easley took a called strike three to end it.

Cards third – Two on
Rodriguez was hit on the shoulder with a pitch with one out, giving Pujols the opportunity to again hit with a runner on base. He walked for the 32nd time in 34 games. Edmonds flied out to left. Both runners moved up on a passed ball, but Rolen fanned swinging.

D'backs fourth – Runner on
Conor Jackson singled to center with two down, but Mulder collected his fifth strikeout of the game on Green for the third out.

Cards fourth – Great chance missed
Molina drew a one-out walk. Miles hit the first pitch sharply to Jackson, but his throw pulled the shortstop, Easley, off the second base bag. Mulder was up to bunt and did his job, putting both runners in scoring position. With a great chance to crack the game open, Eckstein hit a first-pitch line drive right to the centerfielder.

D'backs fifth – Game tied
Leading off, Orlando Hudson doubled off the left field bullpen fence. He stole third base with one out. Mulder fanned Cruz for the second out, but Byrnes put a line drive off the top of the left field wall. His home run tied the game. Tie 2-2.

Cards fifth – Edmonds goes deep
Pujols was clipped by an inside pitch with one out. He scored ahead of Jim Edmonds, who blasted a 2-0 pitch deep into the seats in right. I am most impressed by the Cards taking back the lead immediately after surrendering it – the mark of a good ballclub. Rolen took a walk. Molina singled to center with two outs as the team restarted their rally before Miles ground out 4-3. Cards 4-2.

D'backs sixth – Another runner
Jackson singled to center with two out, but Shawn Green's infield grounder didn't get the job done.

Cards sixth – Bigbie stars
Mulder was pulled after 98 pitches. Larry Bigbie pinch hit for him and singled up the middle on the first offering. Eckstein laced a 2-2 offering past the second baseman to put runners on the corners. That ended Cruz' night. Rodriguez stepped in against reliever Greg Aquino and legged out his part of what would have been a double play. Bigbie scored in the process. Pujols did ground into a 6-4-3 to end the threat, however. Cards 5-2.

D'backs seventh – Rolen error
Brad Thompson took over on the mound as Bigbie took over in left. With two down, pinch-hitter Andy Green hit a shot to Rolen that was scored an error. He was stranded.

Cards seventh – K'ed in order
Jason Grimsley fanned all three Cards hitters – Edmonds, Rolen and Encarnacion.

D'backs eighth – Flores efficient
After Thompson got the first out, Randy Flores was given a chance to get in some work. It is just his third appearance in the last ten days. He fanned Chad Tracy and retired Luis Gonzalez, too. Five of his eight pitches were strikes.

Cards eighth – Let's go home!
Casey Daigle picked up three quick outs.

D'backs ninth – Izzy time
Jason Isringhausen started with a five-pitch walk of Conor Jackson. It is Izzy's fourth appearance since April 29, but he did pitch an inning on Tuesday and Wednesday. Jackson took second as Green and Hudson fanned. Pinch-hitter Johnny Estrada singled home the run. Tony Clark pinch-hit and was retired to end the game. Cards 5-3.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Saturday vs. D'backs: Jason Marquis vs. Claudio Vargas 6:15 p.m. WB11
Sun. vs. D'backs: Chris Carpenter vs. Miguel Batista 1:15 p.m. WB11
Monday: Off day
Tuesday vs. Mets: Jeff Suppan vs. Tom Glavine 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Wed. vs. Mets: Mark Mulder vs. Steve Trachsel 7:10 p.m. FSNM/ESPN
Thursday vs. Mets: Jason Marquis vs. Jose Lima 12:10 p.m. FSNM
Fri. @ Kansas City: Chris Carpenter vs. Denny Bautista 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Saturday @ KC: Anthony Reyes (?) vs. Jeremy Affeldt 6:10 p.m. WB11
Sunday @ Kansas City: Jeff Suppan vs. Scott Elarton 1:10 p.m. WB11

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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