Game Observations – Sat. 6/17 – Cards 6-5

The St. Louis Cardinals won the second of their weekend series against the Colorado Rockies at Busch by a 6-5 score Saturday night. The Cardinals' record is now 41-26 and their NL Central lead grew to 4.5 games over Cincinnati.

The St. Louis Cardinals won the second of their weekend series against the Colorado Rockies at Busch by a 6-5 score Saturday night. The Cardinals' record is now 41-26 and their NL Central lead grew to 4.5 games over Cincinnati.

Jeff Suppan pitched a fine game, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks in 7-2/3 innings and won his 100th career game in the process. Josh Hancock allowed Suppan's last run and two more of his own on an eighth inning homer without securing an out. Jason Isringhausen allowed a solo home run in the ninth, but was credited with his 23rd save of the season.

Juan Encarnacion had three hits if you count a gift double courtesy of a terrible scoring call. He also had a pair of home runs, scored two and drove in three. Aaron Miles had a key two-run double and John Rodriguez hit a triple and scored twice.

One year ago today
On June 17, 2005, the Cardinals won their first-ever regular season meeting with Tampa Bay by a 6-4 score at the Trop. Mark Mulder snapped a three-game losing streak with the win and Jason Isringhausen was credited with his 19th save of the season. So Taguchi and Reggie Sanders paced the offense with three hits each.

The match-up
Jeff Suppan vs. Jeff Francis.

The line-up
Luna (SS), Taguchi (CF), Rolen, Encarnacion, Spiezio (1B), Rodriguez (LF), Molina, Miles and Suppan.
Back in: So Taguchi, Scott Spiezio.
Out: Jim Edmonds, Chris Duncan.
Hector Luna stepped up to the leadoff role in his second game subbing for David Eckstein. Scott Spiezio gets his first start since his bout with a viral infection. John Rodriguez drops from #2 to #6 and Aaron Miles from #1 to #8. Hot-hitting Juan Encarnacion slid from #5 into the cleanup spot. Much of this was due to the lefty, Francis on the mound.

On to the game…

Rockies first – 1-2-3
Luna made a nice play catching a ball up the middle, then spinning and throwing to first for the final out.

Cards first – Juan goes deep
So Taguchi singled, stole second and scored on Juan Encarnacion's home run to left. Cards 2-0.

Rockies second – Another jack
Matt Holliday led off with a home run. No further damage. Cards 2-1.

Cards second – Weird frame
Rodriguez tripled leading off and came home on an error by Garrett Atkins at third base. Molina was erased trying to steal second. A strikeout and ground out ended it. Cards 3-1.

Rockies third – Glove love
Rolen made a nice stop and throw to retire Francis for the second out.

Cards third – Limping
Three popouts made for a weak inning.

Rockies fourth – Close call
Spiezio made a nice dive to his right to stop a grounder and toss to Suppan covering for the first out. Todd Helton then reached on a ball that Rolen barehanded but couldn't get to first in time. Matt Holliday walked on four pitches. Garrett Atkins also walked to load the bases. But, Brad Hawpe grounded out 6-3 to enable Suppan to escape the 28-pitch inning.

Cards fourth – Extending lead
Encarnacion homered to left leading off. It is his second career multi-home run game. Spiezio followed with a single to left. Rodriguez was hit by a pitch though he didn't really try to get out of the way. Molina bunted both runners into scoring position. Miles went down and shot a ball into the left field corner to score the two. Suppan singled to put runners on the corners. But, Luna and So ended the inning with two consecutive outs. Cards 6-1.

Rockies fifth – On the same page
Suppan and Molina had a discussion in the dugout between innings. Haven't they been on the same team for going on two years now? It must have worked as Suppan retired the three hitters in order.

Cards fifth – Nothing doing
Three fly ball outs.

Rockies sixth – A runner
Holliday just legged out a play where Spiezio made another nice stop, but his toss to Suppan was too soft. Since it was two out, the final one quickly came on a force play at second base.

Cards sixth – Get it done
Two ground outs and a fly out made for another quick inning.

Rockies seventh – Francis out
Clint Barmes doubled to left with two down but was stranded. Francis was pinch-hit for by Choo Freeman, who fanned.

Cards seventh – Joe Table time
Jose Mesa took over on the mound. After three outs, the Cards haven't had a baserunner since the fourth.

Rockies eighth – Hancrocked
Omar Quintanilla reached on a single that Rolen snared on a dive, but the throw was late. Suppan was pulled from the game with two down. Josh Hancock was called upon to face Holliday, who had homered, singled and walked in three appearances against Suppan. He singled on a 3-2 count. Hancock had complained to the home plate ump about at least one call to Holliday. Why? Garrett Atkins homered to right center on a ball that looked like a fly ball to center. Randy Flores was next. He retired Hawpe to end the inning. Cards 6-4.

Cards eighth – Official scorer takes night off
Closer Brian Fuentes pitched. Hawpe in right made one of his lackadaisical one-handed catches on the track only the ball clanked out of his glove. The official scorer gave Encarnacion a double instead of the obvious two-base error. Even Al couldn't believe the ruling. Fuentes ended up striking out the side.

Rockies ninth – Izzy time
Jason Isringhausen was asked to get the final three outs with a two run lead. Make that a one-run lead as pinch-hitter J.D. Closser smoked a ball deep into the right field bullpen. Al was more happy with the home run than a walk. Izzy fanned pinch-hitter Jorge Piedra and Cory Sullivan to end the game. Cards 6-5.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Sunday vs. Rockies: Chris Carpenter vs. Josh Fogg 1:15 p.m. WB11
Monday: Off day
Tuesday @ White Sox: Mark Mulder vs. Javier Vazquez 7:05 p.m. FSNM
Wednesday @ White Sox: Jason Marquis vs. Mark Buehrle 7:05 p.m. FSNM
Thursday @ White Sox: TBD vs. Freddy Garcia 7:05 p.m. FSNM

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

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