Game Observations – Tue. 7/18 – Braves 14-5

The St. Louis Cardinals were again embarrassingly defeated at home by the Atlanta Braves by a brutal 14-5 score Tuesday evening. This time, Jason Marquis wore the goat horns, giving up 12 of the runs. The Cards' 52-41 record keeps their lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division race at 3-1/2 games.

Jason Marquis was manhandled by the red-hot Braves offense, allowing runs in each of the first six innings and 12 total. That included three home runs to pad his MLB-worst total of 23 this season, along with 11 other hits and two walks. Tyler Johnson and Braden Looper each yielded a run in garbage time. Only Adam Wainwright escaped unscathed.

Jim Edmonds hit a solo home run. John Rodriguez plated two with a triple and Scott Spiezio had his own three-base RBI hit. David Eckstein had two singles and scored once. But, overall the offense was mastered by Tim Hudson and his bullpen mates.

One year ago today
On July 18, 2005, the Cards defeated Milwaukee 11-4 as Matt Morris picked up his 11th win. Morris went five innings and gave up two runs. Albert Pujols had a single, double and home run, drove in two and scored four times. Jim Edmonds also scored four runs on two singles and two walks. Mark Grudzielanek had three hits and three RBI. John Rodriguez made his Major League debut, starting in left field. He collected his first hit, an infield single.

The match-up
Jason Marquis (11-6, 5.34) vs. Tim Hudson (6-8, 4.81).

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan (RF), Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Spiezio (LF), Miles, Bennett and Marquis.
Out: So Taguchi, Juan Encarnacion, Yadier Molina, Hector Luna.
In: Chris Duncan, Scott Spiezio, Gary Bennett, Aaron Miles.
Back to the right-handed unit. I hope Jim Edmonds has his running shoes on, as he doesn't have much help defensively.

On to the game…

Braves first – Jonesin
With two outs, Chipper Jones singled past a diving Rolen on the first pitch he saw. The next pitch was deposited in the visitors' bullpen on a line drive by Andruw Jones. It was Marquis' 21st home run allowed this season – worst in the National League. Brian McCann singled to deep short, but that was it. Braves 2-0.

Cards first – No reply
A 1-2-3 inning was not the desired start.

Braves second – Lotsa singles mean more runs
At the bottom of the line-up, Adam LaRoche and Scott Thorman singled leading off. Wilson Betemit walked with one out to load the bases. After visits by Bennett and Duncan, Marquis' first offering to Edgar Renteria was a two-run single. With two out, Andruw Jones slapped another first pitch into center for an RBI single. Braves 5-0.

Cards second – Quiet
Still looking for a baserunner.

Braves third – Bleeding continues
LaRoche blasted a home run to center with two outs. Braves 6-0.

Cards third – Consistency
Three ground outs.

Braves fourth – Two out trouble
Renteria singled with two down. Chipper walked. Andruw stroked a two-run double. Braves 8-0.

Cards fourth – A hit, a hit!
Pujols singled with two outs to break up the no-hitter. Hooray!

Braves fifth – Scoring in pairs
Jeff Francoeur was hit by a pitch. Scott Thorman doubled with one out to put two runners in scoring position. Wilson Betemit's two-out single plated both runs. Braves 10-0.

Cards fifth – Standing out not good
Edmonds homered to right, deep and just inside the fair pole. Since he was the only hitter doing anything, La Russa gave him the rest of the night off. Honestly. Braves 10-1.

Braves sixth – Scoring in every inning
Chipper hammered his own long ball to center on a 2-0 pitch leading off. In a case of too little, too late, Tyler Johnson got up to throw just before Andruw Jones singled to end Marquis' night. The first hitter, McCann, hit a two-run home run to center, over an awkwardly-looking So Taguchi, who had just entered the game. Braves 13-1.

Cards sixth – B2B triples
Eckstein and Duncan singled with one out. Rolen fisted a double down the left field line to score one. It was Rolen's 30th double of the season. John Rodriguez pinch hit as Adam Wainwright began to throw. J-Rod split the outfielders as the left fielder Ryan Langerhans made a passive attempt at stopping the ball. Two scored as the ball rolled to the wall and J-Rod was given a triple. I would have scored it a double and an E7, with one run unearned. But, who really cares? Spiezio stroked his own RBI triple to right center. That ended Hudson's night. Braves 13-5.

Braves seventh – Three outs in a row!
J-Rod stayed in left as Spiezio moved to second and Wainwright pitched a 1-2-3 inning.

Cards seventh – Two on
So took a one-out walk against Oscar Villarreal. David Eckstein just missed a home run before singling. Neither Duncan nor Pujols could get a run home.

Braves eighth – Can't get Andruw out
Andruw Jones put a Braden Looper offering deep into the Braves pen. That makes five hits and six RBI for him. Todd Pratt singled up the middle with one out. LaRoche walked with two down as Hancock began to throw. Braves 14-5.

Cards eighth – The other Tyler is better this night
Tyler Yates took over on the mound and didn't allow a runner.

Braves ninth – So slipping?
Josh Hancock pitched. Betemit was given a one-out double as So missed a fairly easy catch at the wall. It should have been an error, whether he saw the ball or not. That is two questionable defensive plays by the "fundamentally-sound" Taguchi in the latter half of this game.

Cards ninth – Peter who?
Australian Peter Moylan pitched. Luna doubled down into the left field corner. Juan Encarnacion reached via a pinch hit single. That was it.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Wed., July 19 vs. Braves: Chris Carpenter (8-4, 2.85) vs. Jason Shiell? (0-0, 0.00) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Thu., July 20: Off day
Fri., July 21 @ Dodgers: Jeff Suppan (6-5, 5.52) vs. Brad Penny (10-3, 3.26) 9:40 p.m. FSNM
Sat., July 22 @ Dodgers: Anthony Reyes (2-3, 3.82) vs. Aaron Sele (6-2, 2.91) 9:10 p.m. FSNM
Sun., July 23 @ Dodgers: Jeff Weaver (0-1, 13.50) vs. Chad Billingsley (0-2, 4.67) 3:10 p.m. WB11

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

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