Game Observations – Sun. 6/25 – Tigers 4-1

On Sunday afternoon, the Cardinals lost their sixth and final game of the roadtrip, as the Detroit Tigers prevailed by a 4-1 mark at Comerica Field. The Cardinals' record is now 42-32 as their NL Central lead dropped to two games over Cincinnati. The Cards suffered their first winless road trip in almost ten years - since the opening of the 1997 season.

On Sunday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals lost their sixth and final game of the roadtrip, as the Detroit Tigers prevailed by a 4-1 mark at Comerica Field. The Cardinals' record is now 42-32 as their NL Central lead dropped to two games over Cincinnati. The streaking Tigers have now won 14 of their last 17 games while the Cards suffered their first winless road trip in almost ten years - since the opening of the 1997 season.

Sidney Ponson pitched a whale of a game, going 7-1/3 innings, allowing six hits and two walks. When he left, the game was tied. But, Ponson was charged with the loss after relievers Randy Flores and Brad Thompson caved in during the eighth.

The offense had chances against Jeremy Bonderman, but couldn't cash in. David Eckstein's three singles were wasted. John Rodriguez doubled and scored the only run on an Aaron Miles single. The three through six hitters struggled, going a combined 2-for-15 with a walk and seven strikeouts.

One year ago today
On June 25, 2005, Chris Carpenter pitched a four-hit shutout, fanning 11 as the Cards rolled to an 8-0 win over the Pirates. It was Carpenter's third shutout of the season and sixth in his career. Albert Pujols drilled a three-run home run, while Yadier Molina and Jim Edmonds also went deep. So Taguchi and David Eckstein each contributed a pair of hits.

The match-up
Sidney Ponson vs. Tigers' ace Jeremy Bonderman.

The line-up
Eckstein, Perez (RF), Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Spiezio (DH), Rodriguez (LF), Bennett and Miles.
Back in: Timo Perez, Jim Edmonds, John Rodriguez, Gary Bennett.
Out: Juan Encarnacion, So Taguchi, Hector Luna and Yadier Molina
The big news is the return of Jim Edmonds after his concussion on Wednesday. In fact, the entire outfield is new, and Scott Spiezio was dropped in the order.

On to the game…

Cards first – Bases loaded
David Eckstein reached when third baseman Brandon Inge ate a bouncer right at him. Timo Perez also reached when catcher playing first baseman Ivan Rodriguez lost a very close race to the first base bag. However, Bonderman knuckled down to fan both Pujols and Rolen. Edmonds drew a full-count walk before Spiezio flied out to left.

Tigers first – Only two on
Placido Polanco singled with one out. Rodriguez hit into a force out at second. Magglio Ordonez walked. A harmless fly to left ended the threat.

Cards second – Bottom guys deliver
John Rodriguez banged a double off the wall in right field leading off. It looked to be deep enough to leave many parks. Hitting just .188 on the month, it was good to see him stroke the ball. Bennett moved him up to third and Aaron Miles collected the RBI with an opposite-field single to left. Cards 1-0.

Tigers second – Edmonds is back
Edmonds made a spectacular backhanded catch while running full speed toward the wall in right center to end the inning off the bat of Vance Wilson. Ponson was shown hitting himself on the side of the head in frustration over the fat pitch offered.

Cards third – BonderMAN
Bonderman again made Pujols and Rolen look bad. Edmonds then fanned, as had Rolen.

Tigers third – Sid sharp
Ponson had a nice eight-pitch inning.

Cards fourth – The Inge edge
After two more K's, Inge made a great play, diving over the third base line and from foul territory, throwing to first from his knees just ahead of the chugging Gary Bennett.

Tigers fourth – Tied up
Pudge Rodriguez shot a one-hopper off the left-field wall. John Rodriguez played the ball well, but his throw couldn't beat the slow runner to second. On the next pitch, Ordonez singled past a diving Pujols to collect the RBI. Ordonez didn't take second even when the throw home was not handled cleanly. That was big, as Guillen grounded into a 4-6-3 to relieve the immediate pressure. Tie 1-1.

Cards fifth – Inge again
After fouling a ball off his foot, Eckstein dropped a one-out single into short center. With two out, Pujols shot a ball that a diving Inge managed to flag down. It saved an RBI double. Instead, the single put Eckstein in scoring position. Rolen's fly ball ran out of gas on the warning track in left.

Tigers fifth – Back in control
Ponson had another smooth inning.

Cards sixth – Bonderman bonding

Tigers sixth – Break for the "D"
Granderson took a leadoff walk. Polanco's hit and run ball went right to Miles, who easily tagged out Granderson and fired to Pujols for the twin killing.

Cards seventh – Bennett hurt
Gary Bennett may have injured his back on a foul ball swing. Bennett turned trainer Barry Weinberg away, but then Tony La Russa came out and escorted Bennett from the field. It was called an oblique strain, similar to Albert Pujols' recent malady. Yadier Molina took over the at-bat on a 2-1 count. Eckstein legged out the Cards fourth infield hit of the day, this one with two down. Bonderman fanned Perez swinging to escape.

Tigers seventh – Thames goes dry
Marcus Thames singled with two out for just the fourth Tigers hit of the day. Molina showed his value by picking him off first.

Cards eighth – Look in the mirror
Rolen singled to right with one out off reliever Joel Zumaya. He was pulled for the lefty Will Ledesma with Edmonds coming in. Managing against Leyland is like managing against La Russa. Rolen took second on a wild pitch. But, both Edmonds and Spiezio hit foul popups to end a great chance to take the lead.

Tigers eighth – Flores fails, Thompson tanks
Alexis Gomez singled leading off. Randy Flores began to warm up. A sac bunt by Wilson was successful. Inge hit a little chopper over Ponson for an infield single to put runners on the corners with one out. Flores came in for Ponson. Granderson blasted a full-count hanger to deep center. Edmonds had no chance to catch it. Gomez scored easily, but the relay was in time for Molina to tag Inge out trying to slide home. Granderson earned a double and took third on the throw. Brad Thompson came in and his first pitch was shot into left for an RBI double by Polanco that may have cooked the Cardinals' goose. Pudge singled over short to bring the fourth run in. The fact that Rodriguez was caught trying to take second base was relatively unimportant. The second-guessers will criticize La Russa for leaving Ponson in the game for the eighth, but he only threw 79 pitches on the day. Tigers 4-1.

Cards ninth – Over and out
Closer Todd Jones came on to face So Taguchi, who singled. But, Aaron Miles grounded into a double play to end the disappointing series.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Monday vs. Indians: Jason Marquis vs. Cliff Lee 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Tuesday vs. Indians: Anthony Reyes vs. C.C. Sabathia 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Wednesday vs. Indians: Chris Carpenter vs. Jake Westbrook 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Thursday: Off day

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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