Game Observations – Fri. 7/14 – Cards 5-0

The St. Louis Cardinals won the second in their four-game home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers by a 5-0 score Friday night. It was the Cards' fifth straight win. Chris Carpenter pitched a masterful two-hit shutout. The Cards' 50-39 record kept them four games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division race.

A night after the bullpen had to go six innings, Chris Carpenter picked up his mates with a very impressive complete game two-hitter, his eighth win of the season and first shutout. Carp fanned seven and didn't walk anyone. He hit one batter.

The offense rapped out 12 hits, led by David Eckstein's 4-for-5 performance. Chris Duncan had three hits, including a big two-run homer. Juan Encarnacion had a home run among his two hits and also knocked in two.

One year ago today
On July 14, 2005, the Cardinals were on the final day of the All-Star break. They were 11-1/2 games in the lead in the NL Central with a record 24 games over .500 at 56-32.

The match-up
Chris Carpenter (7-4, 3.08) vs. Derek Lowe (7-5, 3.88), the winning pitcher in Game Four of the 2004 World Series for Boston.

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Encarnacion, Molina, Miles and Carpenter.
Juan Encarnacion returned to the line-up as Chris Duncan slid over to left for Scott Spiezio. Otherwise, they stayed constant night to night. Randy Flores' sore elbow was looked at by a doctor on Friday and he is unavailable to pitch.

On to the game…

Dodgers first – Good start
No baserunners.

Cards first – Lead taken
Eckstein worked hard, seeing seven pitches before singling to right. Duncan did the same thing on the next offering, going to left. Pujols then went to right to collect the first RBI. Cards 1-0.

Dodgers second – Hit and no run
Jeff Kent was hit by a pitch with one out, but was erased in an inning-ending twin killing off the bat of Andre Ethier.

Cards second – Over fast
Two ground outs and Carp being called out on strikes was all there was.

Dodgers third – I've got it
Edmonds made a basket catch as he got a bit turned around on a shot to deep center by Izturis.

Cards third – D-Lowe Dunked
Eckstein reached again with a single past third. Duncan put the next pitch into the first row of seats in left. Al called Duncan "the best power prospect in the minor leagues". I have to assume he meant "in the Cardinals system". Al and Dan agreed that Chris' brother Shelly hasn't made the bigs "because he is in the Yankees system", as if that organization is well-stocked with prospects or something. Go figure. Rolen and Edmonds each singled the other way. Rolen stole third, but Edmonds stayed put. Encarnacion collected the RBI on a single to right. Both runners moved into scoring position on Molina's ground out. Miles was walked intentionally to load the bases for Carpenter with two out. Carp grounded out, but it was still a nice inning. Cards 4-0.

Dodgers fourth – Nothing much
Rafael Furcal singled over short for the first Dodgers hit. Nomar Garciaparra grounded into a force at second as the infield just missed a double play.

Cards fourth – Eck erased
For the third time, Eckstein singled to lead off an inning. However, he was cut down trying to swipe second base. Andre Ethier made a nice backhanded diving catch in left center to rob Duncan, who swung at the second pitch he saw. It was the first time on the night that he didn't put the ball in play on the first pitch.

Dodgers fifth – Going quickly
The 1-2-3 inning ended with a strikeout of Ethier.

Cards fifth – Just missed
Rolen flied out to the track in right leading off.

Dodgers sixth – Another nice play
Edmonds made a nice diving catch coming in against Russell Martin leading off.

Cards sixth – Coming in again
Lowe came inside again on Carpenter at the plate before fanning him to end the inning.

Dodgers seventh – Still a one-hitter
After Kenny Lofton fanned, Carp retired two more on ground outs.

Cards seventh – Gio impresses
Eckstein led off his fourth inning with a single. Duncan didn't single until his third pitch this time. So Taguchi came in to pinch run and Lowe headed for the showers. Giovanni Carrera pitched and retired Pujols, Rolen and Edmonds to end it.

Dodgers eighth – Carp getting hit
Carp can't get the ball fast enough and fire the ball in there. He barely dodged both the ball and the broken bat as Ethier was retired. Izturis singled up the middle on the next pitch after the ball grazed Carp's leg. That was it. Carpenter is at 85 pitches.

Cards eighth – Insurance purchased
Encarnacion led off the inning with his 12th home run of the season, onto the grass berm in center off former Tampa Bay and interim Dodgers closer Danys Baez. Molina walked and Carp sacrificed him over with the second out. Eckstein was finally retired on the evening. Cards 5-0.

Dodgers ninth – Smoked
Furcal was called out for the second out and Lofton flied out to So in short left to end it.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Sat., July 15 vs. Dodgers: Jeff Suppan (6-5, 5.83) vs. Mark Hendrickson (0-2, 4.91) 12:20 p.m. Big FOX
Sun., July 16 vs. Dodgers: Anthony Reyes (1-3, 3.86) vs. Brad Penny (10-2, 2.91) 1:15 p.m. WB11
Mon., July 17 vs. Braves: Jeff Weaver (0-0, 0.00) vs. Horatio Ramirez (4-3, 4.83) 6:05 p.m. FSNM/ESPN
Tue., July 18 vs. Braves: Jason Marquis (11-6, 5.34) vs. Jason Shiell? (0-0, 0.00) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Wed., July 19 vs. Braves: Chris Carpenter (7-4, 3.08+) vs. Tim Hudson (6-8, 4.56) 7:10 p.m. FSNM

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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