Game Observations – Mon. 5/29 – Cards 3-1

The St. Louis Cardinals won the first of the three-game series against the Houston Astros by a 3-1 score on Memorial Day at Busch Stadium. Albert Pujols and Jason Marquis led the way. The Cards' record improved to 33-18, as they lead the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central by five games.

The St. Louis Cardinals won the first of the three-game series against the Houston Astros by a 3-1 score on Memorial Day at Busch Stadium. The Cards' record improved to 33-18, as they lead the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Central by five games.

Jason Marquis pitched very well, allowing just three hits, two of them in the infield, and one run in seven innings. Albert Pujols came through again, as his three-run home run in the seventh made Marquis and the Cardinals winners. David Eckstein had three hits, while So Taguchi and Aaron Miles had two each. Jason Isringhausen collected his 17th save of the season.

One year ago today
On May 29, 2005, the Cardinals had their five-game win streak snapped in a 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals. Livan Hernandez bested Chris Carpenter in a match-up of seven-game winners. Carpenter, who gave up three runs in the fifth inning, fanned eight hitters in his first career loss to the Nats/Expos franchise. Jim Edmonds homered for the third-straight game as he finished 2-for-2 with a pair of walks to pace the offense.

The match-up
Inconsistent Jason Marquis opposed Houston ace Roy Oswalt. Marquis is going for his team-high seventh win. Yet, his season has been on (three wins), off (four losses) and on again (current streak of three consecutive wins coming in). Anthony Reyes will get Tuesday's start when Chris Carpenter will be placed on the disabled list.

The line-up
Eckstein, Rodriguez (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion, Taguchi (CF), Bennett, Miles and Marquis.
Jim Edmonds missed his third straight with what has now been diagnosed as swollen lymph nodes in his abdomen. The only change from Sunday is Gary Bennett behind the plate for Yadier Molina.

On to the game…

Astros first – Adds up
Two fly balls plus a strike three called looking against Lance Berkman added up to a nice start for Marquis.

Cards first – Two on
With one out, John Rodriguez singled to the right of a diving Biggio at second base. Rolen coaxed a two-out walk from Oswalt, but Encarnacion took a called strike three for the final out.

Astros second – Two on
Clean up man Morgan Ensberg singled as Marquis was unable to handle his swinging bunt that rolled toward third base. Ausmus was hit by a pitch with two out. But, Everett fanned to enable Marquis to dodge another jam.

Cards second – Helping them out
So led off with a single. Bennett worked a full count and fouled another off before Taguchi was thrown out at second as Bennett fanned swinging. Ugh.

Astros third – Wild man Marquis
With one out, Marquis nailed Willy Taveras in the side with a pitch. It was his second hit-by-pitch on the day. Make that three as Marquis' first offering to Biggio hit him on his elbow pad. Ensberg walked to load them up. Preston Wilson singled to short, scoring the run. But that was it. Astros 1-0.

Cards third – Out in three
Eckstein singled with one out, but Rodriguez hit into a double play.

Astros fourth – Smoke but no fire
Ausmus walked with one out and was sacrificed to second by Oswalt. But, Taveras grounded out to end it.

Cards fourth – Tit for tat
Pujols flied out to the track in dead center. Encarnacion doubled with two out. Not all that surprisingly with a base open, So was hit by a pitch. But, Bennett fanned swinging for the third out.

Astros fifth – Another RISP
Sore-kneed Lance Berkman's 1000th career hit was a single off the wall in right. Encarnacion played the wall perfectly. He moved up on a sac, but was stranded in scoring position. It was Houston's seventh stranded runner in just five innings.

Cards fifth – Best chance missed
Miles reached on an infield single leading off. Marquis moved him over. Eckstein singled to put runners on the corners. Rodriguez hit it to first, but Miles was caught in a rundown between third and home. Albert struck out on a foul tip.

Astros sixth – In a groove
Two fly balls and a ground out. Cruising.

Cards sixth – So singles
Taguchi singled to left with two down, but Bennett stranded him.

Astros seventh – Roy relieved
In a mild surprise, Oswalt was pulled for former Cardinal Orlando Palmeiro, who popped out. Two more outs ensued.

Cards seventh – Broadest of shoulders
Lefty Trever Miller took over pitching duties. Miles singled to right. Hector Luna pinch hit for Marquis, but he fanned while Miles remained at first. John Rodriguez drew a two-out walk, critical as it allowed Pujols to hit. Old friend Chad Qualls came in to pitch. Albert did not disappoint, as his 25th home run of the season went out to left and plated three in the process. I am running out of superlatives. Rolen singled and Encarnacion reached on an error by Ensberg at third, but So made the third out. Cards 3-1.

Astros eighth – WW K
Adam Wainwright took over. It looks like he has even taken over Braden Looper's set-up role. The 1-2-3 inning ended with a strikeout looking by Preston Wilson.

Cards eighth – Bigbie pinch single
Dave Borkowski was the new pitcher. He allowed a two-out single to Larry Bigbie, who hit for Wainwright. Eckstein also singled for his third hit of the day before Rodriguez was retired for the final out.

Astros ninth – Izzy time
Instead of a lead-off walk, this time Jason Isringhausen shook matters up by allowing a Chris Burke single. However, Burke was stranded there as Jason Lane took strike three to end the game.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Tuesday vs. Houston: 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
Friday vs. Cubs: Sidney Ponson vs. Sean Marshall 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Saturday vs. Cubs: Mark Mulder vs. Kerry Wood 3:05 p.m. Big Fox
Sunday vs. Cubs: Jason Marquis vs. Greg Maddux 1:15 p.m. WB11

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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