Game Observations – Wed. 6/7 – Reds 7-4

The St. Louis Cardinals lost the final of their three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds by a 7-4 score on Wednesday evening at Busch Stadium. The reeling Redbirds have now lost three in a row, five of six and eight of their last 12. The Reds tied the Cardinals for the NL Central Division lead as they culminated their first sweep in St. Louis since 1998.

The St. Louis Cardinals lost the final of their three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds by a 7-4 score on Wednesday evening at Busch Stadium. The reeling Redbirds have now lost three in a row, five of six and eight of their last 12. The Reds tied the Cardinals for the NL Central Division lead as they culminated their first sweep in St. Louis since 1998. Both teams have 35-24 records as the Reds won their seventh consecutive game.

Sidney Ponson had control issues, walking five along with eight hits and four runs in 5-1/3 innings until Tyler Johnson came in and allowed a back-breaking three-run blast. As if it matters, one of the three runs was Ponson's. Reds hitters Rich Aurilia and Scott Hatteberg were on base four times each.

Scott Rolen had a single, double and two RBI. Jim Edmonds singled, homered and also drove in two. Unfortunately, the offense didn't get into gear into the seventh and didn't have enough in the tank to come all the way back.

One year ago today
On June 7, 2005, Jeff Suppan evened his record at 5-5 with a six-inning outing, allowing two runs on six hits in the 9-2 Cards victory over the Boston Red Sox. Jim Edmonds hit a two-run shot in the first and Reggie Sanders added a solo home run in the third.

The match-up
Sidney Ponson was asked to avoid the sweep as he faced Aaron Harang.

The line-up
Eckstein, Rodriguez (LF), Rolen, Edmonds (1B), Encarnacion (CF), Duncan (RF), Molina, Miles and Ponson.
All of the outfielders are in new spots, with only Encarnacion returning from Tuesday night, shifting from right to center. Edmonds moved into the clean-up spot, with Juan dropping down one place. Scott Rolen carried an 11-game hitting streak into the contest.

On to the game…

Reds first – Giving them four outs
Scott Hatteberg drew a two-out walk. On a Rich Aurilia single to right, Chris Duncan took an error as he dropped the ball out of his glove, allowing Hatteberg to move up to third. Adam Dunn flied out to left for the third out.

Cards first – Two on, none in
David Eckstein blooped a single into short center as Ryan Freel made a nice diving attempt to catch it. John Rodriguez forced Eckstein out at second base. Scott Rolen singled to right, but that was it.

Reds third – Two in
After a quiet frame, the top of the line-up gave Ponson problems the second time through. Freel doubled into the left field corner with one out. Felipe Lopez walked, which caused the catcher and infielders to come in for a quick discussion. Singles by Hatteberg and Aurilia each plated runs. Dunn hit into a 4-6-3 to stop the bleeding. Reds 2-0.

Cards third – Hit and no run
Aaron Miles singled to right leading off. With Eckstein up, the Reds guessed right on a hit and run and easily nailed Miles on the failed play.

Reds fourth – Two more RISP
Austin Kearns led off with a lead off walk. Ugh! Brandon Phillips singled past short and with one down, Harang sacrificed the runners into scoring position. But, a foul pop-up ended yet another jam.

Cards fourth – Slumbering offense
Rodriguez tried to answer the Reds by taking a lead-off walk of his own. Rolen grounded into a 5-4-3 to quiet the anxious crowd. Edmonds fanned to put an exclamation point on it.

Reds fifth – 2x lead
Yet another lead-off walk was issued, this time to Lopez. He stole second, though the throw was there in time, Eckstein was unable to get the tag across to the other side of the bag. A wild pitch put the runner on third with no out. A double by Hatteberg inside the first base bag enabled Lopez to tiptoe home. Another double, this one by Aurilia just under a diving Rolen's glove scored the fourth run. Adam Wainwright began to warm up with no out. With two out, the Cards intentionally walked Brandon Phillips to get to Jason LaRue. It worked as LaRue fanned swinging. Reds 4-0.

Cards fifth – No-Doz hitters
Another nothing inning for the offense.

Reds sixth – Johnson no relief
Freel doubled off the left field wall with one out. Tyler Johnson and So Taguchi came in and Ponson and Duncan were out. Encarnacion moved to right. Freel took third on a chopper in to Rolen. Freel didn't fall for the look back from Rolen. Hatteberg took a two-out walk. Aurilia slammed a Johnson offering into the seats in right. Reds 7-0.

Cards sixth – The body is breathing
Eckstein and Rodriguez singled with two out. Rolen's one-hopper off the left field fence cleared the bases. Edmonds single up the middle brought Rolen home, as the Reds cut off the throw, even though Rolen might have been out. Edmonds took second on a passed ball. Encarnacion singled on a full-count. Dunn bobbled the ball, but Oquendo held the less than-100% Edmonds on the bases. Harang was pulled. Scott Spiezio faced Chris Hammond and grounded out to third. Reds 7-3.

Reds seventh – Hook does the job
Adam Wainwright took over. LaRue singled with two out, but pinch-hitter Javier Valentin sat down after a patented Wainwright hook gouged him.

Cards seventh – Runner stranded
So singled with two out. He continues to quietly raise his average. Eckstein's chopper to second was the third out.

Reds eighth – Holding the line
Wainwright completed a 1-2-3 inning.

Cards eighth – Jim doing his best
Edmonds homered to left with two out. Encarnacion reached via an infield single, but Timo Perez popped out. Reds 7-4.

Reds ninth – Looper keeps it at three
Braden Looper came on to pitch.

Cards ninth – Coffey closer closes
Todd Coffey closed out the Cards. He had a lot of help as the Cards hitters were swinging at the first pitch, even though they badly needed baserunners.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Thursday: Off day
Friday @ Brewers: Mark Mulder vs. Jorge De La Rosa 7:05 p.m. FSNM
Saturday @ Brewers: Jason Marquis vs. Chris Capuano 6:05 p.m. FSNM
Sunday @ Brewers: Jeff Suppan vs. Dave Bush 1:05 p.m. WB11

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

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