Game Observations – Sat. 5/27 – Cards 4-3

The St. Louis Cardinals won the second of the three-game weekend series against the San Diego Padres by an 4-3 score Saturday afternoon at Petco Park. The Cards' record improved to 32-17, as their record on the road trip is now 6-2.

The St. Louis Cardinals won the second of the three-game weekend series against the San Diego Padres by an 4-3 score Saturday afternoon at Petco Park. The Cards' record improved to 32-17, as their record on the road trip is now 6-2.

Sidney Ponson returned from the disabled list and gave the Cards five gritty innings, allowing just two runs on seven hits. Four relievers finished up, with Jason Isringhausen collecting his 16th save, again a shaky one. Scott Rolen had two opposite-field hits, a single and a double, for two RBI. Juan Encarnacion had two hits and an RBI. David Eckstein was on base four times with a single, two walks and a hit-by-pitch.

One year ago today
On May 27, 2005, Matt Morris won his fifth straight as he led the Cardinals to a 6-3 win over the Washington Nationals at Busch. Morris went seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits, with eight strikeouts. Offensively, Jim Edmonds hit a two-run home run in the first inning and finished the night 3-for-3 with two doubles. Jason Isringhausen picked up his 13th save.

The match-up
In his first start back from the disabled list, Sidney Ponson took on former Dodger and Ranger Chan Ho Park. Chris Duncan was sent back to Memphis after a home run in Kansas City.

The line-up
Eckstein, Spiezio (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion, Taguchi (CF), Molina, Luna and Ponson.
Jim Edmonds was a late scratch, with Encarnacion moved up to #5 and Taguchi inserted into center. After being on an IV on Thursday, Yadier Molina was well enough to play. Hector Luna also was re-entered the line-up as Gary Bennett and Aaron Miles headed to the pines. Scott Spiezio apparently has avoided the virus that has affected his teammates as he has evolved to becoming your regular left fielder – at least as long as he is hitting.

On to the game…

Cards first – Still Parked
A fly ball and two ground outs in eight pitches made for an efficient start for Park.

Padres first – The Bard appears
Brian Giles singled with two out and scored all the way from first on a double by back-up catcher Josh Bard. Bard recently joined the Padres from Boston as the Red Sox wanted back their back-up backstop, Doug Mirabelli, solely to handle Tim Wakefield's knuckleball. Padres 1-0.

Cards second – Leadoff single scores
Rolen led off with a single to right. Encarnacion added a bloop single to right, too. Taguchi sacrificed the two runners up. Molina's ground out scored the run. Encarnacion took third, but that was it. Tie 1-1.

Padres second – Defense diffuses trouble
Mark Bellhorn took a lead-off walk. Adrian Gonzalez singled to left. Pujols started a 3-6-3 on a hard-hit ball. Bellhorn took third. Park fanned to end it.

Cards third – Ponson starts it and Rolen collects
Ponson shot a single into center. Though there was some hesitation, he took third on a hit-and-run with Eckstein, as he singled to right. David also alertly took second on the throw. He leads the league with 66 hits and extended his hit streak to nine. Spiezio was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Pujols was out via the infield fly rule. Rolen picked up Pujols and his teammates as he shot a ball into the right field corner that took an odd bounce for a two-run double. On a very close play at the plate, Spiezio scored on a sac fly to center by Encarnacion. Taguchi took a walk, but Molina was retired. Cards 4-1.

Padres third – Two out turbulence
With two out, Brian Giles reminded us he knows how to hit, slamming a solo home run to close the gap to two. Bard singled and he took third on a Khalil Greene single. On a scary moment, Bellhorn's fly to deep right-center ended it. Cards 4-2.

Cards fourth – Eck just gets on base
Eckstein walked with two down, but that was all. Pujols opens the next inning.

Padres fourth – Still looking for 1-2-3
Another two-out hit. A nubber up the third base line by Park enabled him to reach. Dave Roberts fanned swinging to end it. To his credit, Ponson is meeting the challenge every time – so far.

Cards fifth – Three-bagger bagged
With two down, Encarnacion doubled. But, he kept running. While the throw to third was in time. But, Geoff Blum didn't handle it. However, he handled So's liner to end the inning. It was Juan's fourth triple of the season.

Padres fifth – Everything in order
Ponson retired his opponents in sequence. It has been a fine start for him, coming off the DL.

Cards sixth – Sid done
Jason Marquis pinch hit for Ponson, making the final out of the inning. Good move by La Russa, making sure Sid gets the win – as long as there are enough healthy bullpen pitchers to secure 12 outs.

Padres sixth – K, HR, K, 2B, K
After a strikeout of Greene, Adam Wainwright allowed an opposite-field home run to Mark Bellhorn. Following another K, Geoff Blum doubled to right. Park was pulled for a pinch-hitter, who fanned. Cards 4-3.

Cards seventh – Rally cut short
Scott Cassidy took over pitching. Eckstein worked a lead-off walk, reaching base for the third time. A fielders' choice put Eckstein at second, opening up an intentional walk to Pujols. Neither Rolen nor Encarnacion could make them pay again.

Padres seventh – Yadi nails another
Randy Flores and Larry Bigbie came in via a double switch. Roberts led off with a single, but was erased trying to steal on a close play at second base. Two more outs followed.

Cards eighth – Thin margin maintained
Cassidy continued. Taguchi led off with a double. He took third with one out, but didn't get a chance to come home. Alan Embree pitched and got the final out, fanning Larry Bigbie swinging.

Padres eighth – Looper jam
Looper came on with one out. Khalil Greene singled. Gonzalez doubled into the left field corner, but Greene stopped at third. Two in scoring position. Looper induced Geoff Blum to pop out to Rolen.

Cards ninth – No more help
Jim Brower plunked Eckstein on the lower back with the first pitch of the inning. J-Rod fanned on three pitches. Pujols grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Padres ninth – Izzy time, I mean Yadi time
Believe it or not, the Cards are 29-0 when leading going into the ninth this season. Mike Cameron singled to left off Jason Isringhausen on a 1-2 count with two out. Brian Giles walked. But, Yadier Molina picked Giles off first base to end the game. Wow!

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Sunday @ San Diego: Mark Mulder vs. Jake Peavy 3:05 p.m. WB11
Monday vs. Houston: Jason Marquis vs. Roy Oswalt 3:15 p.m. FSNM
Tuesday vs. Houston: Chris Carpenter (or Anthony Reyes) vs. Andy Pettitte 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Wed. vs. Houston: Jeff Suppan vs. Taylor Buchholz 12:10 p.m. FSNM/ESPN
Thursday: Off day

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

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