Game Observations – Sunday – D'backs 7-6

The first-place Cardinals lost the final game of the weekend series against the Arizona Diamondbacks by a 7-6 score on Sunday afternoon.

The first-place Cardinals lost the final game of the weekend series against the Arizona Diamondbacks by a 7-6 score on Sunday afternoon. The Birds still won the home series two games to one. Their 24-14 record keeps them ahead of Cincinnati in the National League Central Division.

Chris Carpenter again pitched in tough luck, allowing three unearned runs in six innings of work. It was his fourth no-decision of the season. Carp's bullpen failed him as Adam Wainwright (loss), Randy Flores and Braden Looper each allowed two hits and four runs total at a point when the game could have been taken.

The defense on both sides was shaky with a total of six errors and five unearned runs scored. The three Cards errors, all on the infield, matched their high on the season.

On the offensive side, all nine of the Cards' hits were singles. John Rodriguez and Jim Edmonds each led the way, scoring twice. Edmonds was on base four times with three hits and a walk and extended his hitting streak to ten games. Rodriguez walked and had two safeties. Yadier Molina had two RBI, but also hit into a damaging double play with the Cards threatening in the seventh. Albert Pujols collected his MLB-leading 48th RBI.

One year ago today
On May 14, 2005, the Cardinals defeated the New York Mets by the score of 7-6. They improved their record to 23-13. Neither Mark Mulder nor Pedro Martinez was dominant. Yet, Mulder came into the sixth inning with a 5-2 lead before it fell apart. The Cards managed just five hits against Pedro, but they collected five runs in the process. Julian Tavarez spun 1-2/3 innings of one-hit ball to get the win and Jason Isringhausen collected the save in his first action back from the disabled list. Mark Grudzielanek was the Cardinals hitting star, with two hits, including a home run, and four RBI. Abraham Nunez homered and walked twice.

May 29
Mike Bertani, Director of Stadium Ops told me the new left field sections will open May 29, which is substantially sooner than the original July 9 date. "In fact, they could probably open now, except that all the support facilities – concessions, restrooms, and the like aren't ready yet."

Quote of the Day
"I am not a home run hitter. I am a line drive hitter with power." – Albert Pujols

The match-up
Chris Carpenter took on former Blue Jays closer Miguel Batista. Batista and second baseman Orlando Hudson came to the desert over the winter in a trade for star third baseman Troy Glaus.

The line-up
Eckstein, Rodriguez, Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, Spiezio (LF), Molina, Miles and Carpenter. With the day off Monday, La Russa could afford to keep his stars in the line-up with one change. Scott Spiezio got the call in left field as John Rodriguez took his hot bat over to right. Juan Encarnacion sat as did Gary Bennett, with Yadier Molina returning to the starting nine.

On to the game…

D'backs first – E5
With Chad Tracy up and two outs, he hit a sharp chopper to Rolen, who pumped and fired a bit high and wide to Pujols. Rolen took the error. Luis Gonzalez ground out 4-3 to end it.

Cards first – Nothing
The pink bat didn't give Eckstein magic powers as he ground out 4-3. The next two were retired, also.

D'backs second – Quick work
I have a feeling Carpenter is going to have a lot of fast innings today.

Cards second – E's "D"
Damian Easley made a fantastic running and diving play on a ball that Rolen hit to short center for the second out. Spiezio fanned for the third out.

D'backs third – A hit
Jeff DaVanon lined out hard to Pujols for the first out. With two down, Craig Counsell singled to left for the first hit of the game, but the third out was quickly registered.

Cards third – Bottom of order down in order
All there is to say…

D'backs fourth – Two on
Gonzalez singled past Miles with one out. Shawn Green drew a free pass with two down, but Carp retired Johnny Estrada on a fly to center to end the inning.

Cards fourth – No more pink
Eckstein returned to his regular bat and hit a shot that almost carried to the track in left. Rodriguez and Pujols drew walks. Edmonds stayed with his pink bat and took a free pass, too. Despite Batista walking the bases loaded, Rolen swung at the first two pitches and the second one was an inning-ending 6-4-3.

D'backs fifth – Unearned run
DaVanon doubled into the left field corner leading off. Batista hit a grounder that Miles bobbled and then his throw tailed away from Pujols, who took the error. Counsell avoided a double play on a 4-6 that scored the run. Molina nailed Counsell trying to steal second base for out #2. Spiezio made a diving catch on Easley to end it. D'backs 1-0.

Cards fifth – No-hitter broken up
Spiezio walked for the fourth batter in five, but was erased in a double play. Miles reached on a single that Easley knocked down but his throw from the seat of his pants pulled Conor Jackson off the bag. Author Rob Rains and I had a small debate in the press box as to whether that should have been scored a hit, given that Batista had a no-hitter going. I think a hit was proper. But, Carp fanned.

D'backs sixth – Two more unearned runs
Gonzalez led off with a single to left. Eckstein made a sliding attempt at Jackson's grounder up the middle, but bobbled it for the Cards' third error of the day. The runners moved up on a Green ground out. Johnny Estrada's clean single to right cleared the bases. D'backs 3-0.

Cards sixth – Good for Yadi and good for StL
Rodriguez legged out an infield single on a ball that the first baseman and Batista couldn't handle the exchange in time. Edmonds and his pink bat singled to right to put runners on the corners with two down. Counsell muffed Rolen's grounder as the run scored. Spiezio walked to load the bases. It was Batista's fifth walk though he has allowed just three hits. Molina shot a 3-1 pitch into left to score two and end Batista's strange day. Luis Vizcaino took over on the mound. Miles was plunked on the shoulder. Carp was pulled for So Taguchi to pinch-hit with the bases loaded. He fanned swinging. Tie 3-3.

D'backs seventh – Wainwrong
Adam Wainwright took over. Eric Byrnes, who came in via a double switch, singled to left. Counsell singled to center. Edmonds almost threw out Byrnes at second, as he had to hesitate to ensure the ball was caught. Easley sacrificed the two into scoring position. Wainwright left in favor for Flores to face the left-handed Tracy. That didn't work as Tracy clubbed a ground-rule double to right-center to chase two home. Gonzalez singled to center to put runners at the corners. Still only one out. Eckstein, Miles and Molina met at the mound, stalling for La Russa to make a change to Braden Looper. Looper pitched last on the 8th. Green singled past a diving Eckstein to bring the sixth run home. Estrada singled to center to chase home another. Looper can't seem to get lefties out. D'backs 7-3.

Cards seventh – Almost back
Against Brandon Lyon, Eckstein led off with a single to right center. John Rodriguez shot the first pitch to right to put runners on the corners. Pujols' sac fly to right scored Eckstein. Edmonds and his pink bat singled to right. Rolen hit a chopper to Tracy at third. He fired the ball wide of second base, allowing one to score and put two runners in scoring position. Larry Bigbie pinch hit for Looper. Edmonds scored as Easley bobbled Bigbie's grounder, just giving Larry enough time to reach the bag. The error was later changed to a single. Yadier Molina created the worst possible event by grounding into a 6-4-3. Two of the three runs were earned. D'backs 7-6.

D'backs eighth – In order
Josh Hancock came in to pitch. Byrnes and Easley fanned with a fly ball out in between.

Cards eighth – One more chance coming
Lyon retired the Cards in order, but at least Rodriguez and Pujols will be leading off the ninth.

D'backs ninth – Tyler over Green
Edmonds made another patented diving catch in center off the bat of Tracy for the first out. Gonzalez followed with a line drive ground rule double. Tyler Johnson came in to face the lefty Shawn Green as the apparently bored Busch fans started the stupid wave. Green fanned looking to end the threat.

Cards ninth – Closed out
Closer Jose Valverde took over on the mound as it began to rain lightly. Rodriguez was retired on a foul behind third base. Pujols hit a shot that was hauled down by Green with his back to the Cards' bullpen screen. Edmonds singled to right to give the fans one last hope in Scott Rolen. He popped out to short to end the game.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
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 brwalton@earthlink.net.

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