Game Observations – Sat. 7/22 – Cards 6-1

The St. Louis Cardinals clinched their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers as they defeated the home team 6-1 Saturday night. Jeff Weaver went 5-2/3 innings, allowing one run on five hit as three Cardinals hit home runs. The Cardinals' 55-41 record maintained their lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division race at four games.

Jeff Weaver started off roughly, but put it together in the middle innings before running into difficulty in the sixth. Overall, he went 5-2/3 innings, allowing just one run on five hits. He walked one and struck out one. Josh Hancock got a key out with the bases loaded to end the sixth and preserve Weaver's positive outing. Tyler Johnson, Braden Looper and Josh Kinney also contributed to the bullpen's 3-1/3 shutout innings.

The offense featured home runs by Jim Edmonds (fourth time in five games), Albert Pujols (two-run) and Chris Duncan. Juan Encarnacion had a pair of doubles, while Scott Spiezio singled and doubled. Each of them scored a run.

The Cards now have defeated the Dodgers eight straight and they have won ten of 12 overall. The Birds have hit a home run in 18 consecutive contests.

One year ago today
On July 22, 2005, the Cardinals won a memorable game against the Cubs. A perfect suicide squeeze bunt put down by David Eckstein gave the Cards a 2-1 win in the 11th inning. John Mabry opened the inning with a triple and pinch-runner Hector Luna scored the winning run. Al Reyes picked up the win in relief. Chris Carpenter went nine innings and gave up just one run on eight hits, two walks and three strikeouts. John Rodriguez hit his second home run in just his fifth career game.

The match-up
Former Dodger and local boy Jeff Weaver (0-1, 13.50) vs. recycled starter Aaron Sele (6-3, 3.34).

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Encarnacion, Spiezio (2B), Molina, and Weaver.
In: Scott Spiezio.
Out: Aaron Miles.
Scott Spiezio received a rare start at second base, likely because of his career .471 mark against Sele. Albert Pujols came in with a ten-game hitting streak, his longest of the season.

On to the game…

Cards first – Down in order
Eckstein tried to bunt for a hit, but was returned on a close play at first.

Dodgers first – Shaky start
Kenny Lofton singled hard off Weaver's right-side/back/hip region. He reached via the infield single before Barry Weinberg and Tony La Russa came out to check on him. Lofton stole second base on the next pitch as the throw eluded second baseman Scott Spiezio. Nomar Garciaparra shot a ball into the left-center gap. Duncan did a nice job cutting it off to hold Nomar to an RBI single. Andre Ethier singled past short. One out later, Willy Aybar walked to load the bases. Encarnacion made a nice running catch to elude danger – this time. Dodgers 1-0.

Cards second – Starting over
Jim Edmonds hit his eighth home run of the month and 15th of the season as the ball went out to center. Boos were audible, as the Dodger fans must be upset about their team having lost eight of nine. Spiezio singled to right. After fouling off several 3-2 pitchers, Molina took a very close pitch for ball four. Weaver also went 3-2 before grounding out. Tie 1-1.

Dodgers second – Settling down?
Jose Cruz, Jr. doubled off the wall in right to start the inning. Weaver did a nice job getting the next three outs while keeping Cruz anchored to second base.

Cards third – Albert again
Chris Duncan walked with one out. He scored on Pujols' 32nd home run of the season, slammed into the left field seats. Cards 3-1.

Dodgers third – Holding in place
Andre Ethier doubled to right center with one out. Again, Weaver stranded the runner right there. That is five stranded in three innings.

Cards fourth – Doubling up
Leading off, Encarnacion continued the string of doubles to right center. Spiezio doubled over Cruz' head in right field to score the run. More boos. Molina singled past short to put runners on the corners. Spiezio scored on a Weaver double play grounder. Cards 5-1.

Dodgers fourth – Finally
Weaver had a 1-2-3 inning including a pinch hitter for Sele.

Cards fifth – Duncan deep
Joe Beimel pitched and Chris Duncan greeted him with a bomb, his sixth home run of the season. Pujols took a walk on four pitches and quickly stole second base. Rolen moved him to third. But, neither Edmonds nor Encarnacion could get him home. Cards 6-1.

Dodgers fifth – It's official
Weaver completed his second consecutive in-order inning, completing the five innings needed to officially qualify for a win.

Cards sixth – Bats quiet
Fly ball and two ground outs.

Dodgers sixth – Action, but no reaction
With one out, Russell Martin's liner was dropped by new second baseman Aaron Miles. It was his second error in two nights. Randy Flores began to warm up. Cruz hit a ball down the line in left that ended up as a double. Duncan threw wildly toward third as two runners ended up in scoring position with two out. The other Duncan came out for a chat before Weaver issued a walk to load the bases. J.D. Drew pinch hit against the new pitcher, Josh Hancock. Why Flores didn't pitch is unknown. Hancock retired Drew on a liner to center.

Cards seventh – Futility
Giovanni Carrara is the new pitcher. Eckstein singled, Duncan fanned, then Pujols grounded into a double play.

Dodgers seventh – Hancock rolling
Hancock put together a 1-2-3 inning.

Cards eighth – Another double for Juan
With two out, Encarnacion doubled over Lofton's head in center. He was stranded by Miles.

Dodgers eighth – Tyler trips
Tyler Johnson took over. Taguchi, in the game as a defensive replacement, made a nice running catch in left for the first out. Willy Aybar walked with two out. Cesar Izturis was hit on the foot by a pitch, ending Johnson's night in favor of Braden Looper. Dave Duncan has been making the pitching changes, not La Russa. It took him a lot of pitches to get there, but Looper got his man.

Cards ninth – Ready to go
Odalis Perez had a quick inning.

Dodgers ninth – Done
Josh Kinney took the mound. The ump at first, Brian Gorman, said Kinney's toe did not touch the base as he raced Lofton to the bag. That should have been the final out as Kinney took a hard-luck error. Nomar's fielders choice ground out ended it for sure.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
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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