Game Observations – Thurs. 5/18 – Cards 6-3

David Eckstein sparked the Cardinals offense in a 6-3 victory over the New York Mets on Thursday afternoon.

The first-place Cardinals took the final game of their home series with the New York Mets by a 6-3 score on Thursday afternoon. They won another series, this time two games to one, and completed a 6-3 home stand. Their 26-15 record kept them ahead of the pack in the National League Central Division.

Jason Marquis pitched a four-hitter for 7-2/3 innings, allowing all three runs in his fifth win. Jason Isringhausen collected his 13th save of the season during an eventful ninth. Scott Spiezio had a nice game with the bat covering for Albert Pujols, with a single, double and two RBI. David Eckstein topped him with two singles and a double, a stolen base, two RBI and two runs scored.

One year ago today
On May 18, 2005, the Cardinals defeated the Philadelphia Phillies by the score of 8-4 to improve their record to 25-14. Their NL Central lead over Milwaukee again increased to six games. Chris Carpenter fanned seven Phillies as he picked up his sixth win of the year. Yadier Molina was a hitting star, with a three-run home run among his two hits. Albert Pujols walked, homered and drove in two. Mark Grudzielanek had three hits, including a double and two RBI. Jim Edmonds walked, singled and doubled, scoring twice.

The match-up
Jason Marquis vs. Jose Lima. Fortunately, Lima Time looks to be about over for good.

The line-up
Eckstein, Rodriguez, Rolen, Edmonds, Spiezio (1B), Encarnacion, Bennett, Miles and Marquis. Albert Pujols received a rare day off and parked next to Yadier Molina, who also was on the bench.

On to the game…

Mets first – Good start
A ground out and two pop outs made for a good start.

Cards first – Out on top
David Wright let Eckstein's ball down the line alone but it stayed fair. He moved up on a Rodriguez out. Rolen singled to Beltran to score the run and a bad throw allowed him to take second. After Edmonds fanned, Spiezio singled to right for another RBI. Encarnacion fouled out. Cards 2-0.

Mets second – A runner left
Carlos Delgado singled to right leading off. He swapped places with Cliff Floyd as the result of a force for the second out. Raul Castro popped out.

Cards second – Two more
Eckstein flared a single to right to score Miles from third. Eckstein stole second base. It was his fourth successful steal in five attempts this season. A catchable throw from Delgado to Lima at first was muffed, allowing Rodriguez to reach and Eckstein to score. Rolen fanned to end it. Lima was visibly angry with his catcher as they were coming off the field. Cards 4-0.

Mets third – Smooth
Marquis had a nice in-order inning.

Cards third – More unhappiness
During the 1-2-3 inning, Mets bench coach Jerry Manuel was ejected by home plate umpire Tim Welke.

Mets fourth – Lead halved
The lead-off man Jose Valentin walked and scored on Beltran's home run into the seats in right. Floyd drew a free pass with two out, but Castro flied out to center to stop the bleeding. Cards 4-2.

Cards fifth – Lima (has) been
Rodriguez reached on a one-out infield single that replays showed should have been an out. Lima threw out Rolen while on his back on the grass. Rolen took a walk. The Mets decided to leave Lima in the game to face Spiezio. Bad decision as he sliced a double over third base to score Rodriguez. Lima was lifted for Chad Bradford, who retired Encarnacion with two runners in scoring position. Of course, Encarnacion swung at the first pitch and ground out to shortstop. Cards 5-2.

Mets sixth – No harm
Delgado singled with two out, but was stranded.

Cards sixth – Four-run lead back
Bennett walked and Miles sacrificed him up. He scored on an Eckstein double over third base. Pedro Feliciano took over to face John Rodriguez, but La Russa countered with So Taguchi. Out #3 was collected on a liner to second base. Cards 6-2.

Mets seventh – Jason in control (or is he?)
Marquis worked efficiently with the lead, getting all three outs in sequence.

Mets eighth – Two out exit
Edmonds made a nice running catch off the bat of Jose Reyes for the second out. On an 0-2 count, Valentin homered off the fence at the top of the wall in right in front of Encarnacion. That was enough to get Marquis out of the game. Randy Flores retired Beltran on a fly ball to right to end the inning. Cards 6-3.

Cards eighth – Three ground balls
Notihng doing against former Cardinal Darren Oliver.

Mets ninth – Izzy time shaky again
Jason Isringhausen came on to pitch. Apparently, it was too easy for Izzy, so he toughened it up. David Wright drew a walk with one out. Floyd doubled to right over Encarnacion's lead, putting both runners in scoring position and the tying run at the plate with one out. But, Izzy buckled down and retired Castro and Endy Chavez to end the game. Just barely.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Fri. @ Kansas City: Chris Carpenter vs. Mark Redman 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Saturday @ KC: Anthony Reyes vs. Denny Bautista 6:10 p.m. WB11
Sunday @ Kansas City: Jeff Suppan vs. Scott Elarton 1:10 p.m. WB11
Monday @ San Francisco: Mark Mulder vs. Jamey Wright 9:15 p.m. FSNM
Tuesday @ San Fran: Jason Marquis vs. Mike Matthews 9:15 p.m. FSNM
Wed. @ San Fran: Chris Carpenter vs. Noah Lowry 2:35 p.m. FSNM
Thursday: Off day

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

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