Game Observations – Tue. 7/4 – Cards 6-3

On Tuesday evening and into Wednesday morning, the St. Louis Cardinals evened their three-game series at one each against the Atlanta Braves, winning by 6-3 score. Their 45-37 record puts them two games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division.

Chris Carpenter started and while it wasn't a patented Carpenter dominating start, he pitched well enough. The Braves managed two runs on four hits and a walk in five innings prior to a long rain delay of almost three hours. Jason Isringhausen collected his 25th save in a four-out outing.

Six of the Cardinals' nine hits went for extra bases. Yadier Molina and Jim Edmonds each had a pair of doubles and Edmonds also walked. Aaron Miles had a single, double and an RBI. Juan Encarnacion blasted a two-run home run.

One year ago today
On July 4, 2005, the Cardinals won the series opener against Arizona by a 10-3 score as the good version of Matt Morris picked up his 10th win of the season. Morris went seven innings and allowed just one earned run while striking out seven. John Mabry was 4-for-4 with a walk and he drove in two. Scott Rolen had two hits and two RBI.

The match-up
Chris Carpenter vs. John Thomson, fresh off the disabled list due to a finger blister.

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Encarnacion, Molina, Miles and Carpenter.
As amazing as it seems, La Russa wrote the same eight players in the same order for a second consecutive night.

On to the game…

Cards first – Nice start
The Cardinals have gone eight straight without scoring in the first inning. Eckstein led off with a walk. Duncan stroked a first-pitch single to right. Pujols walked to load the bases. Eckstein scored as Rolen hit into a 4-6-3. Duncan took third. Edmonds hit a clutch RBI double into the right field corner on a full count. Cards 2-0.

Braves first – Ace off base
Leading off, Marcus Giles homered for the second consecutive night. A curve ball knocked Renteria off the plate as the Tomahawk Choppers booed. He walked. On a strikeout by Wilson Betemit, Renteria had started toward second base, but was caught trying to return to first. Cards 2-1.

Cards second – "M" guys team up
Molina slapped a double off the wall in center to start the inning. Miles hit a slow roller up the middle for a single, which was good as it gave plenty of time for Molina to chug home. Carp sacrificed Miles over to second, but that was it. Cards 3-1.

Braves second – Right back
Francoeur singled on a slow chopper that Rolen couldn't barehand cleanly. Adam La Roche singled to right. The Cards got an out when Ryan Langerhans hit a slow roller to Miles. La Roche stopped between first and second, so Miles got the out at first. Pujols had plenty of time to get La Roche at second. But, upon taking the throw off the bag, Eckstein came home. But, Francoeur slid head-first under Molina's tag. Cards 3-2.

Cards third – Hit Juan out
Pujols flied out to the warning track in left. Edmonds doubled into the right field corner again. Encarnacion homered to dead center for his 11th home run, a two-run shot. Cards 5-2.

Braves third – Edgar on third
Renteria doubled to right with one out. He took third on a ground out, but was stranded there.

Cards fourth – Huge out
Miles doubled to center and Carp again sacrificed him over. Eckstein fanned before Duncan walked. Thomson was pulled for Tyler Yates, who retired Pujols on a fly ball.

Braves fourth – Shin shot
McCann was hit in the shin by a Carpenter offering leading off. Carp protested, but replays confirmed the call. He was quickly erased in a 4-6-3.

Cards fifth – Edmonds on again
Edmonds drew a one-out walk to reach base for the third time, but Encarnacion grounded into an around-the-horn double play.

Braves fifth – About time
Carp retired the Braves in order for the first time on the evening.

Cards sixth – One of the longest innings this season
Against reliever Oscar Villareal, Molina doubled again to left center as Langerhans just missed a good, running catch. He took third on a Miles ground out as the rain fell. For the second night in a row, the game was stopped, this time while Carpenter was at the plate. Two hours and 51 minutes later, the game resumed. John Rodriguez assumed Carp's 1-0 count against the same pitcher, Villareal. J-Rod just missed a home run as Andruw Jones slammed into the wall making the catch on the sacrifice fly. Cards 6-2..

Braves sixth – Adam's eve
Adam Wainwright took over on the mound and walked Renteria leading off. Two strikeouts and a popout ended the inning.

Cards seventh – A runner is it
Pujols fanned swinging for the second out. Rolen singled on a ball hit to Renteria. Edmonds flied out to end it as game time reached midnight.

Braves seventh – Quiet
Wainwright stayed on. La Roche walked with one out, but that was it.

Cards eighth – Barry good
Reliever Kevin Barry retired three Cards hitters in order.

Braves eighth – WW not invincible
With one down, Wainwright allowed consecutive singles by Renteria, Betemit and Jones. The latter scored the third run of the night for Atlanta. Randy Flores came in and got his man, Brian McCann. Jason Isringhausen was asked to get four outs. I like this move. Bring in your best reliever with the tying run at the plate. Izzy got his man on a dribbler to first. Cards 6-3.

Cards ninth – No more
Izzy will have to make do with a three run lead.

Braves ninth – Ending it
Izzy mowed down his three hitters to collect his league-leading 25th save.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
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
Saturday @ Houston: Anthony Reyes vs. Roger Clemens 3:05 p.m. Big Fox
Sunday @ Houston: Chris Carpenter vs. Andy Pettitte 7:05 p.m. ESPN

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

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