Game Observations – Wed. 7/19 – Cards 8-3

After a two-hour, twelve minute weather delay, the St. Louis Cardinals were able to take the final game of the three-game set against the Atlanta Braves by score of 8-3 Wednesday evening. Chris Carpenter went seven innings allowing two runs and Jim Edmonds hit a three-run home run. The Cards' 53-41 record keeps their lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division race at 3-1/2 games.

Chris Carpenter shrugged off a rain delay of over two hours to post another sharp outing and end his team's ugly losing streak. In seven innings, Carpenter allowed just two runs on five hits. He fanned six and walked no one.

Jim Edmonds' three-run home run proved to be a difference-maker. The rest of the team scattered seven singles. Edmonds, Albert Pujols and Chris Duncan each scored twice. David Eckstein struck out three times, but also singled and scored.

One year ago today
On July 19, 2005, the Cards lost to the Brewers 5-4 due to a two-run inning in relief by Julian Tavarez. Jeff Suppan did not get a decision, leaving the game after six innings with a 4-3 lead. Albert Pujols hit his 25th home run, a two-run shot.

The match-up
Chris Carpenter (8-4, 2.85) vs. Jason Shiell (0-0, 0.00), with the latter making his first major league start after 20 relief appearances with the Boston Red Sox several years ago.

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Encarnacion, Molina, Luna and Carpenter.
In: Juan Encarnacion, Yadier Molina, Hector Luna.
Out: Scott Spiezio, Gary Bennett, Aaron Miles.

On to the game…

Braves first – First blood again
Wilson Betemit singled between third and short on the first pitch of the night. He was sacrificed to second and took third on another ground out. An Andruw Jones single to short scored the run. Carp seemed irritated by the defensive placement of Eckstein. Encarnacion made a nice running catch on treacherous turf to end the inning. Braves 1-0.

Cards first – Two-out chance
Pujols and Rolen each took two-out walks. But, Edmonds fanned.

Braves second – 1-2-3
An efficient inning for Carpenter.

Cards second – 1-2-3, too
Same for the other side.

Braves third – 3Ks
Carp fanned the side.

Cards third – Shiell down
Eckstein collected the first Cards hit of the night on a broken bat blooper to center with one out. Duncan laced a single to right as Eckstein aggressively took third. Pujols took a walk to load the bases. Rolen's sac fly collected the RBI as Duncan took third. Edmonds then put a pitch into the back of the Cards bullpen to score three. It is his third home run in three days and 14th of the season. Encarnacion singled up the middle before Molina grounded out on ball four. Cards 4-1.

Braves fourth – Stay! Larry!
Chipper led off with a double off the wall in left center. He was stranded right there in a nice job of pitching by Carpenter.

Cards fourth – In order
Shiell seemed to come back, retiring three in sequence.

Braves fifth –
Two more strikeouts for Carpenter and five on the night.

Cards fifth – Four more
After reliever Kevin Barry walked Duncan, Albert singled to extend his hitting streak to nine games. Rolen singled a run home. Edmonds walked to load the bases. Encarnacion's sac fly scored another. Rolen and Edmonds executed a double steal. Molina walked and then a Luna hit-by-pitch forced in yet another. Carp singled to right for an RBI. Bye, bye Barry. Hello, Chad Paronto, who got of the bases-loaded joam. Cards 8-1.

Braves sixth – Chipping away
Chipper singled to right with two out but was stranded.

Cards sixth – Macay's back in town
Reliever Macay McBride daringly knifed through three straight hitters.

Braves seventh – McCanned one
Brian McCann homered to right leading off. Cards 8-2.

Cards seventh – No mas
Encarnacion reached via a swinging bunt, but Molina hit into a 6-4-3.

Braves eighth –WW3
Adam Wainwright took over and retired all three.

Cards eighth – Ditto
Same for Braves' reliever Oscar Villareal.

Braves ninth – Looper lousy
Braden Looper was asked to finish. He walked Andruw Jones and Todd Pratt with one out. Throwing some strikes with a six-run lead would be nice. Jeff Francoeur singled to load the bases. La Russa brought in Randy Flores. Jones scored on a force out that was almost a game-ending double play. Jason Isringhausen was called on to get the final out. He did that on one pitch, which was hit off his bare hand. Cards 8-3.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
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, 3.83) vs. Aaron Sele (6-3, 3.34) 9:10 p.m. FSNM
Sun., July 23 @ Dodgers: Jeff Weaver (0-1, 13.50) vs. Chad Billingsley (1-2, 3.66) 3:10 p.m. WB11

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

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