Game Observations – Tue. 5/23 – Cards 8-5

The first-place St. Louis Cardinals took the second game of the three-game series against the San Francisco Giants by an 8-5 score Tuesday evening at AT&T Park. The Cards' record improved to 30-16 as they held their three-game lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central Division.

The first-place St. Louis Cardinals took the second game of the three-game series against the San Francisco Giants by an 8-5 score Tuesday evening at AT&T Park. The Cards' record improved to 30-16 as they held their three-game lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central Division.

Jason Marquis started and six of his 8-1/3 innings were perfect, though he had an uncanny knack for allowing runs back just after his teammates got him scores. Overall, Marquis allowed five runs on six hits and just one walk. Jason Isringhausen collected his league-leading 15th save, though it was a shaky one. Former Cardinal Matt Morris was on the mound for all six St. Louis runs, though two were unearned.

Albert Pujols opened the scoring with a three-run home run in the top of the first. Juan Encarnacion plated the other three via a single and a double. Scott Spiezio scored on each of those three run-producing hits. Scott Rolen had three hits and David Eckstein had two as both scored once.

One year ago today
On May 23, 2005, the Cards won 4-2 over the Pirates behind Chris Carpenter who pitched seven innings and allowed just one run on four hits. Carp struck out six batters and walked three. Larry Walker scored twice and Albert Pujols drove in two runs on a double. Reggie Sanders had two hits and two RBI batting in the clean-up spot. Jason Isringhausen picked up his 12th consecutive save.

The match-up
The inconsistent Jason Marquis took on the inconsistent Matt Morris. It remains to be seen if Marquis leaves the Cardinals after the season as Morris did the year prior.

The line-up
Eckstein, Spiezio, Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Encarnacion, Bennett, Miles and Marquis.
Scott Spiezio became the left fielder/number 2 hitter du jour, replacing Larry Bigbie. Gary Bennett got the call behind the plate over Yadier Molina.

On to the game…

Cards first – Lead in a heartbeat
David Eckstein singled to center and Scott Spiezio followed with a single just past the second baseman into right field. The Great Pujols parked a pitch into the second row of the seats in left field. It was his 23rd home run of the season with his 55th, 56th and 57th RBIs. Wow! Cards 3-0.

Giants first – Marquis struggles out of gate
Randy Winn doubled into the left field corner leading off. He took third on a fly ball to right and scored on a Steve Finley triple to right center. Finley leads the league with eight triples on the season. Bonds' single to right scored Finley. Cards 3-2.

Cards second – Two different runners
Miles sliced a one-out single into left. Marquis hit a foul ball into McCovey Cove before legging out an infield chopper to second base, with Miles retired on the force. Eckstein was retired for the third out.

Giants second – In order
Marquis settled down and didn't allow any baserunners from the bottom third of the Giants lineup.

Cards third – One back
Spiezio drew a lead-off walk. Rolen flied out to the wall in center, but Spiezio was unable to move up. Edmonds drew a two-out walk. Encarnacion shot a ball over the statuesque outfielder Bonds in left, as Spiezio easily scored. Edmonds also tried to come home but was thrown out at the plate as Mike Matheny applied the tag. Bonds threw a one-hopper to Vizquel, whose one-hopper get home a lot more quickly. Matheny expertly blocked Edmonds off the plate. Cards 4-2.

Giants third – Marquis sharp
This time, Marquis handled the top three hitters, including a strikeout of Finley swinging to end the inning. That makes eight in a row for Jason.

Cards fourth – 1-2-3
The bottom three Cardinals hitters went down without incident.

Giants fourth – More in order
With the shift on, Bonds was retired 4-3. However, Miles picked up the ball a few feet from the right field line in mid-right field and threw out the bad-kneed hitter before he could get all the way up the line to first. Two more outs made it 11 in a row for Marquis.

Cards fifth – Error benefits Cards
Spiezio reached base for the third straight time in front of Pujols. He flied out to the wall in center. It was near the 421 foot mark and would have been a home run about anywhere other than the spacious AT&T Park. Rolen singled with two out. Edmonds hit a cue shot toward third and didn't run hard initially. Pedro Feliz could have stepped on third base for the force, but instead threw to first, where Jose Vizcaino didn't keep his foot on the bag and took an error. With the bases loaded, Encarnacion hit a ball that squirted under Vizquel's glove at short, as two unearned runs scored. Cards 6-2.

Giants fifth – Doesn't Marquis want a four-run lead?
Vizcaino singled to left with one out and Morris moved him up to second. Winn hit a line drive home run just inside the right field foul pole on an 0-2 pitch, as the Giants took the two runs right back. Cards 6-4.

Cards sixth – Too little
Eckstein slapped a two-out single to right, but Spiezio was finally retired.

Giants sixth – Back in control
So Taguchi took over in left for Spiezio. Included in another 1-2-3 inning was a fly to right center by Bonds, still looking for career home run #715.

Cards seventh – Going the opposite way
Jeremy Accardo took over on the mound for Morris to face Pujols leading off. He singled to right and took second on a wild pitch. Rolen brought him home with a single to right of his own. Edmonds walked to end Accardo's night. Brian Wilson became the new pitcher. La Russa called a squeeze, but Bennett missed the pitch. Rolen stayed in the rundown long enough for Edmonds to at least take third behind him. Bennett's grounder ended the rally. Cards 7-4.

Giants seventh – Marquis crusing
Marquis started the inning at an efficient 69 pitches on the night and had another 1-2-3 frame in just eight more pitches.

Cards eighth – Marquis helps cause
Marquis stroked a stand-up double into the left-center gap with one down. He took third on an Eckstein grounder 4-3. The run scored as Vizcaino couldn't handle So's sharp chopper to first base. Giants' regular first baseman Lance Niekro is out due to injury and is obviously missed as Vizcaino took his second error on the night. Cards 8-4.

Giants eighth – Another perfecto
Miles made a nice play to retire Vizquel to end another perfect inning for Marquis – his sixth in eight innings.

Cards ninth – Lead-off single wasted
Scott Rolen singled off Kevin Correia. Edmonds forced him out at second, but that was it.

Giants ninth – Izzy scary again
Finley coaxed the first walk of the night from Marquis. Miles made another nice play against Bonds, playing deep on the grass in short right as Finley moved up to second. Pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney singled to right, putting runners on the corners. Marquis left for Jason Isringhausen and Larry Bigbie, as Taguchi slid over to right for Encarnacion. As the usual script, Izzy walked his first batter, Ray Durham, to load the bases. Former Cardinal Mike Matheny came up representing the tying run with only one out. Dave Duncan came out with the count 2-0 before Matheny walked and Finley trotted home. Izzy's next pitch was wild, but the runners couldn't advance. Adam Wainwright began to warm up along with Randy Flores. They weren't needed after all, as Izzy and mates collected the final two outs to seal the win. Cards 8-5.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Wed. @ San Fran: Chris Carpenter vs. Noah Lowry 2:35 p.m. FSNM
Thursday: Off day
Friday @ San Diego: Jeff Suppan vs. Clay Hensley 9:05 p.m. FSNM
Saturday @ San Diego: Mark Mulder vs. Chan Ho Park 3:05 p.m. Big Fox
Sunday @ San Diego: Jason Marquis vs. Jake Peavy 3:05 p.m. WB11
Note: Sidney Ponson may take one of the weekend starts instead.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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