Game Observations – Sun. 7/23 – Cards 6-1

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-1 again on Sunday afternoon for their first sweep in Los Angeles since 1993. Jason Marquis won his league-leading 12th game, pitching eight four-hit shutout innings. Juan Encarnacion hit a pair of home runs. The Cardinals' 56-41 record meant their lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division race grew to five games.

Jeckyll and Hyde starting pitcher Jason Marquis pitched his best game of the 2006 season, allowing just four hits and walking none in eight shutout innings. It was his first scoreless outing in 21 starts this season. Josh Kinney made it a bit interesting in the ninth before Randy Flores finished off the Dodgers.

Juan Encarnacion was the hitting star, with two home runs and a single. Chris Duncan had a big, two-run single. Scott Rolen had two hits and two RBI.

One year ago today
On July 23, 2005, Matt Morris gave up six runs on six hits as the Cubs won 6-5. Morris allowed three home runs in six innings. John Rodriguez had two doubles before leaving the game with a slight right ankle sprain.

Mulder out for another five weeks?
WB11's Rick Horton doesn't expect starting pitcher Mark Mulder to be back on the active roster until September.

The match-up
Jason Marquis (11-7, 5.97) vs. Chad Billingsley (1-2, 3.66), coming in with a 14 inning scoreless stretch.

The line-up
Miles (2B), Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Encarnacion, Luna (SS), Bennett and Marquis.
Out: David Eckstein, Scott Spiezio and Yadier Molina.
In: Aaron Miles, Hector Luna and Gary Bennett.
Two regular starters, Eckstein and Molina took a day of rest. Pujols hit streak is 11 games coming into the day.

On to the game…

Cards first – Two on
On a bang-bang play, Miles was called safe in a footrace with Billingsley to the first base bag. Duncan ground into what looked to be a sure double play, but a slow transfer at second base allowed Duncan to reach first base just ahead of the throw. Pujols took a walk. Rolen grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Dodgers first – A runner
Cesar Izturis singled up the middle with one out despite having been jammed. He didn't score.

Cards second – Lead taken
Edmonds flied out to Jose Cruz at the warning track. Juan Encarnacion then hit a line drive home run to right center for his 13th home run of the season. Luna doubled into the left field corner and took third on Bennett's comebacker. Marquis stranded the runner. Cards 1-0.

Dodgers second – Marquis rolling
Marquis retired his three hitters in order.

Cards third – Top of order quiet
Pujols flied out to center to end a 1-2-3 inning.

Dodgers third – RISP
Rafael Furcal singled up the middle with two out and stole second. He was stranded.

Cards fourth – Going fast
The Redbirds went down in order for the second consecutive inning.

Dodgers fourth – In order
Marquis continues his good work.

Cards fifth – Walks hurt Billingsley
Luna drew a lead-off walk. On a hit-and-run, Furcal dropped the ball at second and threw wildly to first, allowing Gary Bennett to reach. Instead of two outs, the Dodgers didn't get any. Marquis had a terrible at-bat, unable to lay down a bunt before fanning. Miles took a walk to load the bases. Down 1-2 in the count, Chris Duncan smacked the ball up the middle to score two. It was his first career hit with the bases loaded after seven failures. With runners at the corners, Pujols was walked to reload the sacks for Rolen. Scott made the Dodgers' strategy backfire as he doubled into the left field corner to score two more. It was Rolen's 31st double of the season. However, on the play Pujols was thrown out at third base for the second out. Edmonds flied out to end the four-run inning. Cards 5-0.

Dodgers fifth – Fans frustrated
Cruz singled to right with one out. Ramon Martinez grounded into a 5-4-3 which brought out the boo-birds for the first time Sunday. Though honestly, the Sunday afternoon LA crowd was surprisingly sparse.

Cards sixth – Juan again
Encarnacion hit his second home run of the game leading off the inning. This one went out to left. He is on an 8-for-14 streak currently. When Luna walked next, Billingsley departed for Gio Carrara. He fanned Bennett and induced Marquis to ground into a double play. Cards 6-0.

Dodgers sixth – Marquis impressive
Leading off, pinch-hitter Ricky Ledee doubled past Pujols into the right field corner. Miles made a fielding error with one out. That put runners on the corners. That makes three errors for Miles this series. Two pitches later and Marquis was out of the inning.

Cards seventh – Three up and down
Jonathan Broxton pitched a quick inning.

Dodgers seventh – Marquis still in command
So Taguchi came in on defense. Another fast inning.

Cards eighth – Good start, anyway
Rolen singled to right center to start the frame. Encarnacion reached on an infield single that the shortstop couldn't handle. Both were stranded as Broxton buckled down.

Dodgers eighth – Ending strong
Marquis finished a splendid outing by fanning Furcal.

Cards ninth – So hits deck
Closer Takashi Saito got in some work. He almost hit Taguchi in the head. Wonder if they have a history. Guess not, as Saito apparently apologized to So after the inning.

Dodgers ninth – Shutout lost
Josh Kinney walked Nomar and J.D. Drew with one out. Dave Duncan came out to talk as Randy Flores warmed up in a hurry. Russell Martin doubled over Edmonds' head to score Nomar. With two runners in scoring position, Randy Flores came in and retired Andre Ethier and struck out Cruz to end the game and the series. Cards 6-1.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
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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