Game Observations – Fri. 7/21 – Cards 2-0

The St. Louis Cardinals made their first 2006 game in Dodger Stadium a win as they defeated the home team 2-0 Friday night. Jeff Suppan went seven strong innings, allowing no runs on five hits and Chris Duncan hit a solo home run. The Cardinals' 54-41 record kept their lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division race at four games.

The St. Louis Cardinals made their first 2006 game in Dodger Stadium a win as they defeated the home team 2-0 Friday night. Jeff Suppan went seven strong innings, allowing no runs on five hits and Chris Duncan hit a solo home run. The Cardinals' 54-41 record kept their lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division race at four games.

For the second outing in a row, Jeff Suppan turned in his best game of the season. This time, he allowed just five hits and three walks in seven shutout innings, fanning two. Adam Wainwright and Jason Isringhausen finished up. Izzy earned his 27th save of the season, a shaky outing in which the winning run was at the plate as the game ended.

On a night of few Cardinals hits, eight in total, Chris Duncan clubbed a solo home run and scored both runs. Juan Encarnacion plated him the other time on a bases-loaded single. Albert Pujols and Aaron Miles each singled twice. The Cardinals have now beaten the Dodgers 14 out of their last 18 meetings.

One year ago today
On July 21, 2005, the Cardinals lost 12-7 to the Milwaukee Brewers. Jason Marquis made it through just four innings in mid-90 degree heat, allowing seven runs, but only three were earned as the team committed two errors. Albert Pujols went 3-for-4 and Mike Mahoney (remember him?) drove in three runs to tie his career high. Partially because there were so many baserunners, the defense turned a season-high five double plays. The Cardinals were 61-34, 12 games ahead in the Division.

The match-up
Jeff Suppan (6-5, 5.52) vs. Brad Penny (10-3, 3.26). Penny, the NL starter in the All-Star Game, allowed six runs in five innings against the Cards in a loss in St. Louis five days ago. One day before, Suppan allowed a single run in seven innings against these same Dodgers. It was his best outing of the season.

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Encarnacion, Molina, Miles and Suppan.
Out: Hector Luna.
In: Aaron Miles.
Other than that one change among the position players, Tony La Russa played the same line-up two games in a row.

On to the game…

Cards first – Nothing doing
After Duncan looked at nine pitches, he fanned on his nemesis, a low and away offering. At least Penny required 20 pitches to get through the frame.

Dodgers first – Two on, no runs
Juan Encarnacion made a nice diving catch to save a likely double off the bat of Rafael Furcal. Kenny Lofton singled to center. J.D. Drew took a pitch off the knee and stayed down for awhile before leaving the game for Jose Cruz. Suppan did a nice job to retire Nomar Garciaparra on a fly ball before fanning Andre Ethier for the third out.

Cards second – First runner
Rolen reached on a high pop down the first base line that the second baseman, Willy Aybar, could not quite reach. After Edmonds fanned for the 63rd time this season, Encarnacion grounded into a forceout that retired Rolen. Molina did the same to Juan for the third out.

Dodgers second – Do it right!
Chris Duncan made a one-handed catch of Cesar Izturis' fly in left for the second out, despite the fact that the fly came right to him. Can't someone teach Duncan how to properly catch the ball?

Cards third – Over fast
A quick 1-2-3 inning from the 8-9-1 hitters.

Dodgers third – Yadi flashes his gun again
Furcal took a one-out walk. As soon as he tried to steal second base, Molina gunned him down.

Cards fourth – Duncan goes deep
Leading off, Chris Duncan blasted a home run 431 feet deep into the Cardinals pen in right. It was his fifth long ball in just 79 at-bats this season. With two down, Edmonds' line drive to right was trapped by Cruz. Encarnacion walked. But, Molina sharply grounded out 4-3. Cards 1-0.

Dodgers fourth – First error
Apparently not wanting to hold the lead, Suppan walked Cruz leading off. Nomar grounded into a force play at second, but Miles made a terrible throw way past Pujols. The error put Nomar in scoring position with one out. It was the Cardinals first error in eleven games – since July 6 to be precise. Suppan fanned Ethier again and collected a ground out to escape again.

Cards fifth – Ouch!
Suppan was hit on a full-count pitch with one out. Barry Weinberg and Tony La Russa came out to check him out at first base. Soup stayed in the game – at least for three pitches until Eckstein grounded into a double play.

Dodgers fifth – Them, too
#8 hitter Russell Martin singled with one out. Penny hit into his own double play to end the inning.

Cards sixth – Scratching one out
Duncan drew a lead-off walk. Pujols singled over third as hit bat cracked. Both runners daringly moved up on a Rolen fly ball to centerfielder Kenny Lofton. Two in scoring position with one out brought out manager Grady Little to chat. With an open base, Edmonds was walked intentionally to set up the force. Encarnacion's sharply-hit single to right scored one and kept the bases loaded. Molina grounded into an easy double play to let Penny and the Dodgers off the canvas. Cards 2-0.

Dodgers sixth – Two on again
Furcal singled to center for the Dodgers' third hit of the night. Another double play made quick work of the baserunner, 6-3. That was important as Cruz then doubled into the right field corner. Suppan pitched carefully to Nomar, walking him. Ethier slapped the first pitch to Pujols to end the threat.

Cards seventh – Penny spent
Miles singled leading off. Two outs later and Penny was done. Miles was on second base when Joe Beimel came in to secure the final out.

Dodgers seventh – Soup finishes strongly
Martin doubled with two down, but Soup got pinch-hitter Ricky Ledee to end the frame.

Cards eighth – Third base
Against Jonathan Broxton, Pujols singled and moved up on Lofton's error in center. He took third base with two out, but none of the group of Rolen, Edmonds and Encarnacion could get the run across.

Dodgers eighth – Adam fans two
Adam Wainwright took over. Furcal greeted him with a single over short. Furcal stole second as Lofton fanned on a full count on the hit and run. Cruz whiffed on a curve ball and Nomar grounded out 6-3 to get the game into the ninth.

Cards ninth – Just a hit
Danys Baez became the new pitcher. With one out, Miles legged out a single as he beat Baez in a footrace to first base. John Rodriguez pinch-hit and struck out, as had Molina to start the inning. A fly ball ended the small uprising.

Dodgers ninth – Izzy time
Closer Jason Isringhausen came on. As too often happens with Izzy, the leadoff man Ethier walked. Izzy broke a bat to get the first out on a fly to short center. Pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz hit a sharp grounder that could have been a double play. Instead, it was an error on Rolen. Izzy fanned Martin for the second out. Sandy Alomar, Jr. pinch hit and flied out to left on a full count. It took Izzy 27 pitches to get through the inning.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Note: Anthony Reyes, Saturday's original starter, was replaced by Jeff Weaver, perhaps to get Jeff into a normal schedule. Informal word is that Reyes will start Monday. Also, check out the ERAs of the Colorado starters below.
Sat., July 22 @ Dodgers: Jeff Weaver (0-1, 13.50) vs. Aaron Sele (6-3, 3.34) 9:10 p.m. FSNM
Sun., July 23 @ Dodgers: Jason Marquis (11-7, 5.97) vs. Chad Billingsley (1-2, 3.66) 3:10 p.m. WB11
Mon., July 24 @ Rockies: Anthony Reyes (2-3, 3.82) vs. Jeff Francis (7-8, 3.98) 8:05 p.m. FSNM
Tue., July 25 @ Rockies: Chris Carpenter (9-4, 2.83) vs. Jason Jennings (6-8, 3.88) 8:05 p.m. FSNM
Wed., July 26 @ Rockies: Jeff Suppan (7-5, 5.17) vs. Aaron Cook (6-8, 3.80) 2:05 p.m. FSNM

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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