Game Observations – Mon. 6/5 – Reds 8-7

The St. Louis Cardinals lost the first of the three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds by an 8-7 score on Monday evening at Busch Stadium. The Cards' NL Central lead over the Reds dropped to two games as their record fell to 35-22.

The St. Louis Cardinals lost the first of the three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds by an 8-7 score on Monday evening at Busch Stadium. The Cards' NL Central lead over the Reds dropped to two games as their record fell to 35-22.

Jeff Suppan tossed another patented Suppan outing, allowing eight hits but just three runs in six innings. He was in line for his sixth win of the season until Jason Isringhausen blew a two-run lead in the ninth on Ken Griffey's second home run of the game. Josh Hancock and Braden Looper didn't help matters by allowing one run each.

The injury-depleted offense scored enough to win. Juan Encarnacion's fifth-inning, two-run home run looked to be the killing blow, with Chris Duncan's own two-run blast the next inning seemed to be frosting at the time. Yadier Molina even went deep for the first time all season, but they still came up short.

One year ago today
On June 5, 2005, the Cardinals scored three first-inning runs against Roger Clemens, but could not hold the lead and eventually lost by a 6-4 score. Mark Grudzielanek drove in two runs with a double and a single. Mark Mulder lost his second consecutive game, giving up six runs in a season-low three innings of work. The bullpen held the Astors to three hits over the remaining five frames. Signaling the end of an "era", outfielder Roger Cedeno went onto the disabled list. His place was taken by Skip Schumaker, making his major league debut.

The match-up
Jeff Suppan vs. Brandon Claussen. Suppan comes into the game with a 5-4 record, but an ERA just over five runs per nine innings. The lefty Claussen has lesser results on all counts, with a 3-5 won-loss mark and an ERA of 5.40.

The line-up
Eckstein, Taguchi (CF), Rolen, Encarnacion, Edmonds (1B), Luna (LF), Molina, Miles and Suppan.
Being one of nine men to have started in left field for the Cardinals this season, Hector Luna has tied Scott Spiezio with the third-most starts at the position with six. John Rodriguez and So Taguchi both have 16.

On to the game…

Reds first – Blown call overcome
Miles made a nice off-balance throw to get the speedy Felipe Lopez leading off. Rich Aurilia beat out a slow bouncer that Rolen barehanded and threw to first. Replays seemed to confirm that the first base umpire missed the call. Two more outs made it unimportant.

Cards first – Two in
Eckstein got it going right with a single past shortstop into left field. Taguchi walked. Rolen singled to the same spot as Eckstein. As the run scored, the Reds started throwing the ball around the diamond. Taguchi also came home as Rolen took third. But, neither Encarnacion nor Edmonds could bring the next run in. Cards 2-0.

Reds second – B2B2B
Back to back to back one-out singles put the first Reds runners in scoring position and loaded the bases. Scott Hatteberg, Brandon Phillips and David Ross were on. Claussen forced out Hatteberg as Rolen came home in time. Lopez' two-out, two-strike slap to left tied the game. Tie 2-2.

Cards second – He hits
Suppan legged out a two-out single to right after nine pitches. He was almost thrown out at first and was stranded by Eckstein.

Reds third – Suppan's best friend
Ken Griffey, Jr. doubled to right and Adam Dunn walked. Austin Kearns took a nice called strike three before Scott Hatteberg grounded into a double play that ended the threat.

Cards third – Luckless Luna
Encarnacion singled with two down before a walk to Edmonds. Luna worked a full count before striking out swinging. He threw the bat in the process, but no umpires were hit.

Reds fourth – Asking for trouble
Suppan walked the #8 man, Phillips, on four straight pitches. One pitch later, and he was on second after a Claussen sacrifice. Lopez singled to center, but Taguchi made a perfect throw home and Molina applied the tag on a sliding Phillips for the third out.

Cards fourth – 7-8-9 hitters
Down in order.

Reds fifth – Griffey blast
Griffey broke the tie with a solo home run to the grass berm in dead center with one out. Suppan has allowed eight hits already. Reds 3-2.

Cards fifth – Juan por dos
Rolen drew a two-out walk. Normally, there would be some excitement when the clean-up hitter comes to the plate with a runner on base and the pitcher nearing the end of his night. But, the crowd was quiet – but only for a couple of pitches – until Encarnacion deposited a Claussen offering into the Reds bullpen. Cards 4-3.

Reds sixth – About time
Finally, an in-order inning for Suppan.

Cards sixth – Duncan duo
Former Cardinal Rick White became the new pitcher. Miles drew a two-out walk. Suppan was called back for a pinch-hitter, Chris Duncan. A great decision for La Russa, as Duncan clobbered a pitch deep into right – 424 feet to be exact. The obligatory curtain call ensued. Cards 6-3.

Reds seventh – Hancock has bumpy ride
Josh Hancock was asked to hold his former teammates at bay. Guess it should have been spoken louder or something. The speedburner Lopez tripled past a diving Edmonds and made it into third standing up with one out. Aurilia's line drive out to left was deep enough to score the run without a throw. Exit Hancock, enter Flores, who retired Griffey on a fly to center. Cards 6-4.

Cards seventh – No sweat
Another former Cardinal, Estaban Yan, came on to pitch. Dan and Al seem obsessed with the amount of perspiration Yan emits, as they come back to the topic several times. One of Yan's first offerings nailed the home plate umpire in the shoulder, requiring a delay to attend to him. Scott Rolen drew a one out walk. Encarnacion hit into a 4-6-3 to complete the inning.

Reds eighth – Less cushion
Flores stayed on to face Dunn and fanned him. Braden Looper came in. A Kearns double and Phillips RBI single surrendered half the cushion. Cards 6-5.

Cards eighth – Yadi's policy
Molina finally connected for this first home run of the season. OK, it was a nice hit and all, but c'mon, a curtain call? Cards 7-5.

Reds ninth – Izzy time
Closer Jason Isringhausen appeared for the second consecutive game. Lopez doubled off the left center wall with one out. It's never easy. Representing the tying run, Aurilia came to the plate. He walked and Ryan Freel pinch ran. That brought Griffey up. Duncan came out to say "hello". The runners moved up on a wild pitch. Izzy went full on Griffey before he slammed a line drive homer to right. Amid more boos, Dunn walked. La Russa pulled Izzy for Brad Thompson, who induced an inning-ending double play. Reds 8-7.

Cards ninth – Slammed the door
New Reds closer Todd Coffey was asked to protect the slim lead and did his job. John Rodriguez fanned swinging to end it.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Tuesday vs. Reds: Chris Carpenter vs. Eric Milton 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Wed. vs. Reds: Sidney Ponson vs. Aaron Harang 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Thursday: Off day
Friday vs. Brewers: Mark Mulder vs. Jorge De La Rosa 7:05 p.m. FSNM
Saturday vs. Brewers: Jason Marquis vs. Chris Capuano 6:05 p.m. FSNM
Sunday vs. Brewers: Jeff Suppan vs. Dave Bush 1:05 p.m. WB11

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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