Game Observations – Sun. 7/02 – Cards 9-7

On Sunday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals salvaged the final game in their three-game weekend series against the Kansas City Royals, 9-7. The Cardinals finished their homestand at 2-4. Their 44-36 record enabled them to slip back ahead of the Cincinnati Reds by one game in the NL Central.

Jason Marquis pitched into the eighth inning. He was charged with four runs, though two of them were inherited runners that scored while Brad Thompson was on. Braden Looper allowed two more to make the game interesting in the ninth.

The Cardinals rediscovered the long ball as the big bats came through. Albert Pujols had a three-run shot, while Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds also went deep. Pujols added a pair of singles and totaled four RBI. Rolen and Edmonds each scored twice.

One year ago today
On July 2, 2005, the Cardinals had plenty of chances but could not come up with the big hit in a 3-1 loss to Colorado. The Redbirds stranded 11 runners and were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Jason Marquis (8-6) allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings for the loss. Marquis, David Eckstein and Larry Walker all had two hits, while Jim Edmonds drove in the only run on a bases-loaded walk.

The match-up
Jason Marquis vs. Mike Wood.

The line-up
Eckstein, Rodriguez (RF), Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Spiezio (LF), Molina, Miles and Marquis.
Back in: Jim Edmonds and Aaron Miles.
Out: Juan Encarnacion was given a day off. So was Hector Luna.

On to the game…

Royals first – Not again
David DeJesus hit a screamer that Rolen dived and caught on the bounce. He threw from his knees to first, but the speedy runner was safe. He took second with one out and scored on a two-out single by Emil Brown. Royals 1-0.

Cards first – Two on
David Eckstein worked a walk to start the home first. Pujols singled into left with one down. No one cross the plate, however.

Second – A quiet inning
Both camps went down in order.

Royals third – Can't get him out
DeJesus singled again with one out. He was stranded.

Cards third – Albert gets help
Eckstein singled to left with one out. John Rodriguez took a four-pitch walk. Pujols shot a line drive home run to left to clear the bases. Rolen was hit by a pitch. Edmonds and Spiezio walked. Molina singled up the middle on the first pitch to score two. Another run scored on Marquis' single to deep second base. The ball just eluded a diving Grudzielanek. The throw did catch Molina trying to take third, but the run scored first. Cards 6-1.

Royals fourth – RISP
Mark Teahen doubled off the wall over Spiezio's head with one out. He took third on a fly ball but didn't score.

Cards fourth – Quiet
Down in order again.

Royals fifth – Down
Marquis set them down in sequence.

Cards fifth – B2B jacks
Rolen homered to left leading off. The arching shot is his 12th of the season. Edmonds followed with a blast out to center. Jeremy Affeldt took over on the mound with two out. Cards 8-1.

Royals sixth – Two left on
Mientkiewicz singled to right center with one down. Emil Brown singled and was forced out at second to save an error on a Miles wild throw. Runners on the corners with two out. They were stranded.

Cards sixth – Close
Eckstein reached on an infield single after Graffanino made a great diving stop, but his throw was a step late. Rodriguez singled. Eckstein moved up on a fly, but didn't make it home.

Royals seventh – Just one
John Buck doubled leading off. Who else other than DeJesus would single him in with two down? Cards 8-2.

Cards seventh – Fast
Down in order again.

Royals eighth – Too interesting
Mientkiewicz walked leading off. It is Marquis' first free pass of the game. Brown singled. That ended Marquis' day. Brad Thompson and So Taguchi came in. With one out, Graffanino singled home a run past a diving Eckstein. Estaban German walked. When Matt Stairs was announced, Thompson was removed. Reggie Sanders then was asked to pinch-hit against Tyler Johnson. Two runs scored when he singled to right. Cards 8-5.

Cards eighth – Four-run cushion
Andy Sisco pitched. So singled with one out on a ball that should have been an error on Grudz at second. Rodriguez then walked with two down. Pujols singled one run home on a ball that the left fielder German should have gotten before Rolen grounded into a force play. Cards 9-5.

Royals ninth – Looper labors
Against Braden Looper, Mientkiewicz singled with one down. Brown replaced him on a fielders choice and took third on fielders indifference. Teahen collected the RBI via a single that went under Miles' glove and he quickly took second uncontested. Graffanino's double chased home Teahen before Buck was retired to end the game. New Cardinal Josh Kinney was warming up but wasn't needed. Cards 9-7.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Monday @ Braves: Anthony Reyes vs. John Smoltz 6:05 p.m. FSNM/ESPN
Tuesday @ Braves: Chris Carpenter vs. Lance Cormier 6:05 p.m. FSNM
Wednesday @ Braves: Jeff Suppan vs. Chuck James 6:35 p.m. FSNM
Thurs. @ Houston: Sidney Ponson vs. Taylor Buchholz 7:05 p.m. FSNM/ESPN
Friday @ Houston: Jason Marquis vs. Wandy Rodriguez 7:05 p.m. FSNM

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

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