Game Observations – Tue. 7/25 – Cards 1-0

The St. Louis Cardinals narrowly defeated the Colorado Rockies 1-0 at Coors Field on Tuesday night. Chris Carpenter and Jason Jennings both pitched great games, with Albert Pujols' solo home run the narrow difference. The Cardinals' 57-42 record meant their lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division remained 4-1/2 games.

Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter pitched 7-1/3 shutout innings for his tenth win of the season. He allowed seven hits and three walks in his first-ever start at Coors Field. Randy Flores secured two crucial outs in the eighth. Jason Isringhausen finished up for his 28th save, albeit another shaky one.

Rockies starter Jason Jennings held the NL's top hitting line-up to just four hits. Fortunately, one of them was Albert Pujols' solo home run in the sixth inning.

One year ago today
On July 25, 2005, the Cardinals had an off day in between losing a home series to the Cubs two games to one and embarking on a West Coast swing where they were to play the Dodgers and Padres three games each. Their NL Central lead was 11 games.

Long ball streak ends
The Cardinals' franchise record consecutive game home run streak ended Monday evening. The streak had reached 19 games on Sunday, surpassing the Cards' previous mark of 18 games set in 2000, during which time they hit 43 home runs. This time, the Cardinals hit 31 home runs during their record streak. But, it hasn't always been this way in 2006. The Cards have been outscored 183-157 in runs scored via home runs after holding a 280-219 edge in 2005.

The match-up
Chris Carpenter (9-4, 2.83) vs. Jason Jennings (6-8, 3.88).

The line-up
Eckstein, Taguchi (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion, Edmonds, Molina, Miles and Carpenter.
Out: Hector Luna and Chris Duncan.
In: Aaron Miles and So Taguchi.

On to the game…

Cards first – Sacks jammed
Eckstein singled to right leading off. Then So singled to short center. Pujols lined out to short. Rolen walked to load the bases with just one out, but Encarnacion grounded into a back-breaking double play to end the inning.

Rockies first – Out at the plate
Jamey Carroll doubled leading off. Clint Barmes sacrificed him over. Garrett Atkins bunted toward third as Rolen threw home in time to nail Carroll. Matt Holliday fanned for the third out.

Cards second – Walker
Aaron Miles walked with two down, but Carpenter fanned.

Rockies second – Pitcher gets one - almost
Brad Hawpe singled to right with one out. Carp struck out Yorvit Torrealba. A hit-and-run was well-executed by Choo Freeman. The single put runners on the corners. Jennings put a scare into Cardinals fans everywhere as Encarnacion pulled down his long fly ball one step in front of the wall in right.

Cards third – 1-2-3 go 1-2-3
The top three hitters went down in order as it began to drizzle.

Rockies third – Two-on trouble
Leading off, Jamie Carroll singled. Garrett Atkins walked with one out. Carroll moved up on a Holliday fly out. And, Carpenter induced clean-up man Todd Helton to fly out, too.

Cards fourth – Three more
This time, the 4-5-6 hitters were vanquished.

Rockies fourth – Molina helps cause
The lead-off man reached again as Hawpe singled. A strike-‘em out-throw-‘em out double play ended the inning before any trouble resulted.

Cards fifth – Here we go again
7-8-9 also down quickly as Jennings has retired ten in a row.

Rockies fifth – A mudder and a Gold Glover
Barmes legged out an infield single with two out. Rolen made a superb sliding play to throw out Atkins from his knees in foul territory.

Cards sixth – Albert again
Eckstein swung and missed to strike out. He is in a 2-for-17 slump. Pujols broke the 12 in a row out streak for the Cards with his 33rd home run of the season. He took a ball the other way as it bounced off the top of the wall in right. Cards 1-0.

Rockies sixth – In and out of trouble
Holliday took a lead-off walk. Helton moved him up on a sacrifice. The hot-hitting lefty Hawpe was intentionally walked to get to two righties. Torrealba took a called strike three and Choo Freeman grounded into a force on one pitch.

Cards seventh – Juan in the dirt
Like Eckstein earlier, Encarnacion had to hit the dirt as a ball was up and in at his head. Two pitches later, he singled to left. It was the second Cardinals hit since the first inning. One pitch later, he was nailed trying to steal on a hit-and-run. The pitch was outside so Edmonds couldn't reach it.

Rockies seventh – Fast working
Carpenter had a dominant, seven-pitch inning. It was welcome.

Cards eighth – EcKKstein
Eckstein fanned swinging again to end another in-order frame.

Rockies eighth – Carp's done
Holliday singled to right with one down. With lefties Helton and Hawpe coming up, La Russa went to Randy Flores, who got out of the inning unscathed.

Cards ninth – Hitters done
Jennings finished his complete game four-hitter.

Rockies ninth – Izzy time
Pinch-hitter Jason Smith singled to left leading off against closer Jason Isringhausen. Can't Izzy ever retire a lead-off man? Freeman was unable to advance the runner, taking first base on a force out. It would have been a double play, except the relay to first was off line due to Smith's hard slide into second. Jorge Piedra walked. Still just one out as Izzy put the tying run in scoring position. Jamey Carroll took a called strike three and Barmes flied out to right to end it. Never a doubt.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Wed., July 26 @ Rockies: Jeff Suppan (7-5, 5.17) vs. Aaron Cook (6-8, 3.80) 2:05 p.m. FSNM
Thu., July 27 @ Cubs: Jeff Weaver (4-11, 6.32) vs. Rich Hill (0-4, 9.31) 7:05 p.m. FSNM/ESPN
Fri., July 28 @ Cubs: Jason Marquis (12-7, 5.62) vs. Carlos Marmol (3-4, 4.50) 1:20 p.m. FSNM
Sat., July 29 @ Cubs: Anthony Reyes (2-4, 4.57) vs. Greg Maddux (8-11, 4.83) 3:05 p.m. Big FOX
Sun., July 30 @ Cubs: Chris Carpenter (10-4, 2.68) vs. Carlos Zambrano (11-3, 3.27) 1:20 p.m. WB11

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

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