Game Observations – Fri. 7/28 – Cubs 6-5

The St. Louis Cardinals fell again to the Chicago Cubs in another close match at Wrigley Field, this time by a 6-5 score Friday afternoon. For the second game in a row, the eventual winning run was affected by a Scott Rolen error. A bases-loaded triple by Juan Pierre then decided it.

Jason Marquis took a 3-0 lead into the fourth inning, when it all fell apart for him and the Cardinals. After a double, triple, home run and two singles, the game was tied with two out. A controversial throwing error on Scott Rolen opened the door for a bases-loaded triple by Juan Pierre that created the margin of victory.

The Cardinals managed just six hits - three singles and three doubles and they struck out nine times, including twice each by Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen. But, they were also issued seven walks. Juan Encarnacion doubled home two and walked twice. David Eckstein scored two runs. Jim Edmonds struck out looking with the lead run on second base in the seventh.

The Cardinals' 58-44 record meant their lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division temporarily was cut to just three games.

One year ago today
On July 28, 2005, Chris Carpenter became the National League's first 15-game winner and Jim Edmonds matched a career-high with five RBI, including a three-run first inning home run, as the Cardinals defeated the Padres 11-3 at Petco Park. Their 17 hits matched the most ever by any opponent at Petco, known as a pitcher's park. Albert Pujols and Abraham Nunez had three-hit games, and rookie John Rodriguez hit his third home run in 32 major league at-bats.

The match-up
Jason Marquis (12-7, 5.62), leading the league in both home runs allowed (24) and wins (12) vs. Carlos Marmol (3-4, 4.50).

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion, Edmonds, Luna, Bennett and Marquis.
In: Gary Bennett.
Out: Yadier Molina.
Pujols is hitting just .152 against the Cubs this season coming into the game. Perhaps Gary Bennett was added to the line-up to help him out with the offense. Then again, Bennett is hitting .210 vs. Molina's .219, so it is more likely because he has been working with Marquis lately.

On to the game…

Cards first – Down in order
Nothing going as Pujols fanned for the third out.

Cubs first – Runner on third
Juan Pierre doubled past Pujols at first base as the ball went down the line in right. He took third on as passed ball charged to Bennett. But, Pierre was stranded.

Cards second – Struck out the side
Rolen and Encarnacion fanned, but Edmonds slammed a double into the vines in right. The ball almost left the park. Luna whiffed on a breaking ball to end the threat.

Cubs second – Good "D"
The leadoff man reached again as Jacque Jones singled up the middle. Marquis started a nice double play to end the inning as Jones tried but failed to trip Eckstein by sticking out his spike at the shortstop's foot.

Cards third – Error leads to two runs
Bennett and Marquis each took leadoff walks. Eckstein's infield grounder enabled the Cubs to get the lead runner, but Aramis Ramirez threw wildly to first, allowing Marquis to score all the way from first. Duncan grounded out, but Eckstein moved up to third. He scored on a big two-out hit to right center by Pujols. He aggressively took second base, but was stranded. Cards 2-0.

Cubs third – So far, so good
Marquis followed the offensive burst with a nice 1-2-3 frame.

Cards fourth – Another run
Another leadoff walk ensued, this time to Juan Encarnacion. He stole second base without a throw. I'd sure like to see him run more. He took third on a fly out to right. Luna delivered an RBI single past the drawn-in infield, but was thrown out trying to take second on the play. Bennett hit the deck when a ball was thrown up at his head. A bit of barking between the two sides ensued. Bennett eventually took another walk, the team's fourth in four innings. Marquis was the final out. Cards 3-0.

Cubs fourth – Error part of another really bad inning
Marquis couldn't hold the margin this time as the Cubs came up hacking. Todd Walker doubled off the wall in left center. He took third on a sacrifice and scored on a triple into the right field corner by Ramirez. John Mabry tied the game on a home run to left center. Make that 25 home runs allowed by Marquis this season. After Angel Pagan singled, Duncan the elder came out for a chat. What new could he say? Whatever it was, it didn't work as Ronny Cedeno singled, too. Rolen committed an error, as his throw on Marmol's chopper was high. The first base umpire said the throw pulled Pujols off the bag. Replays looked like he may have been out. Rolen had originally thought about going to second, but the defense must have Luna too far from the bag. La Russa argued, perhaps more to ensure Pujols isn't tossed. After another single, Juan Pierre cleared the bases on a triple past Pujols. Marquis departed and Josh Kinney finally collected the third out. Cubs 6-3.

Cards fifth – Won't do it
Duncan walked with one out. Pujols popped out on a 3-1 pitch and Rolen flied out on the next offering.

Cubs fifth – Kinney shoes Bears
Kinney put the Cubs down in order with offering any insults or firing any weapons.

Cards sixth – Marmol aided
To start the inning, the suddenly-patient Encarnacion took the Cards' sixth walk as Marmol continues to struggle with his control. Edmonds then played into the Cubs hands by popping up on the first pitch he saw. Ugh! Luna knew what to do, taking a five-pitch walk. Marmol departed for Roberto Novoa. Bennett grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Cubs sixth – Kinney holding them close
Pagan singled to start the frame. He stole second base as Phil Nevin fanned for the second out and was stranded there.

Cards seventh – Almost back, but…
Back to back singles by Eckstein and Duncan with one out created some hope. But, Pujols fanned on a fastball! Rolen was hit on the left shoulder by a pitch. It is his surgically-repaired one, but Rolen refused treatment. Encarnacion slammed a breaking ball off the wall in left to score two. Two in scoring position with Edmonds facing the new pitcher Scott Eyre and two out. Jim fanned looking. Ugh again! Cubs 6-5.

Cubs seventh – HBP duel?
Braden Looper pitched for the second game in a row. Ramirez was hit on the rear with two outs in an obvious payback for Rolen getting hit in the top of the inning. Bennett grabbed Ramirez as he stepped toward the mound. Apparently the home plate umpire, Ed Montague, did not issue warnings. Let's hope it can pass. Jones followed with a single to left. A force out at second ended it.

Cards eighth – Running out of time
Bob Howry is the new Cubs pitcher. Pinch-hitter Scott Spiezio argued after taking an inside offering for strike three and out two. John Rodriguez flied out.

Cubs eighth – Pujols starts and ends big twin killing
Pagan reached again, this time with a bunt single against Looper leading off. While bunting, Cedeno took a ball up and in that appeared to have glanced off his bat and may have hit his hand, too. Dusty Baker came out and argued so vehemently that he was ejected. Cedeno eventually bunted Pagan up to second base. On a bouncer to short, Eckstein tried to get the lead runner, but threw high to Rolen at third. Nevin was on first via the fielders' choice. Pierre walked to load the bases with still just one out. Duncan the chawless came out for an infield meeting. Pujols started an impressive 3-2-3 double play with Molina to end the jam.

Cards ninth – Over and out
Pujols represented the Cardinals' last chance as he batted with two out against closer Ryan Dempster. He grounded out.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
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
Mon., July 31: Off day

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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