Game Observations – Sun. 7/30 – Cubs 6-3

The St. Louis Cardinals fell again to the Chicago Cubs in at Wrigley Field, losing this time by a 6-3 score Sunday afternoon. The Cubs won all four games of a home series against the Cards for the first time since 1972. The Cardinals' 58-47 record means their lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division remains 3-1/2 games.

With his reeling St. Louis Cardinals squad badly needing a win, Chris Carpenter was not at his best, taking his first-ever loss at Wrigley Field. He allowed five earned runs in just four innings on six hits and two walks.

Chris Duncan was on base three times, with a walk, a single and a triple, scoring once. Aaron Miles had a pair of singles and scored. Scott Rolen singled and drove in two, but also left four on base. John Rodriguez left the game with an ankle injury that may have been serious.

One year ago today
On July 30, 2005, with a three-run home run and a double, David Eckstein helped power the Cardinals to a 9-4 win over the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Jim Edmonds and John Mabry also homered. Albert Pujols was 3-for-5 in his 40th multi-hit game. Jeff Suppan gained his tenth win, becoming the Redbirds' fourth 10-game winner. Abraham Nunez extended his hitting streak to a career-best eight games with his third-straight multi-hit game.

The match-up
Chris Carpenter (10-4, 2.68) vs. Carlos Zambrano (11-3, 3.27).

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan (RF), Rolen, Edmonds, Spiezio (1B), Rodriguez (LF), Molina, Miles and Carpenter.
In: Chris Duncan, John Rodriguez and Scott Spiezio.
Out: Albert Pujols, Juan Encarnacion and So Taguchi.
Albert Pujols was a late scratch due to a hyperextended right elbow, suffered while swinging the bat Friday night. Scott Spiezio replaced him.

On to the game…

Cards first – Three down
Rolen fanned to end a 1-2-3 inning.

Cubs first – Bad guys up again
Juan Pierre drew a leadoff walk. Runners at the corners ensued from Aramis Ramirez' base hit. Carpenter looks to be having trouble throwing strikes or getting the calls at least. Pierre scored on a Phil Nevin sac fly to right. Chris Duncan's throw home didn't have much on it. Ramirez scored on a Jacque Jones two-out double into the left field corner. Cubs 2-0.

Cards second – Bases loaded wasted
Jim Edmonds took a four-pitch leadoff walk. Nevin fumbled a grounder at first but did get the batter as Edmonds moved up. He took third on a Rodriguez ground out. Molina and Miles walked to load the bases, but Carp couldn't deliver, striking out swinging.

Cubs second – Five runs down
Ronny Cedeno hit a line drive home run to left leading off the inning. Henry Blanco singled to right. Zambrano singled up the middle. Pierre was out on a sacrifice. On a Todd Walker's fielders' choice, according to the home plate umpire, Molina missed the tag on Blanco after a low throw from Eckstein. La Russa came out to argue with the ump for good reason as replays seemed to indicate the out was made. Ramirez' single plated another. The Duncan who could play defense came out to talk before the double play got the Cards out, but it was too little, too late. Cubs 5-0.

Cards third – One hit won't do it
Duncan's one-out single was the Cards' first hit of the day. Edmonds fanned swinging for the third out.

Cubs third – Too late?
Carp breezed through his first 1-2-3 inning.

Cards fourth – Over and out
Molina fanned swinging to end an in-order inning for Zambrano, too.

Cubs fourth – RISP
Blanco walked and was sacrificed to second. Pierre and Walker were then retired.

Cards fifth – A run scored
Miles singled leading off. Jason Marquis pinch-hit for Carp and doubled into the left field corner. Duncan walked to lead the bases. Miles scored on a fielders' choice. With runners on the corners, Edmonds fanned swinging again to end another inning. Cubs 5-1.

Cubs fifth – More like it
Josh Kinney pitched. Jones fanned swinging for the third out.

Cards sixth – Wild pitching and an injury
Leading off, Spiezio legged out an infield single on a ball that Zambrano fumbled. A wild pitch put Spiezio on second. J-Rod hit the dirt as a pitch was up at his head. He walked on the wild pitch as Spiezio moved up again. After Nevin dropped a foul popup, Molina's sac fly scored the run. Miles legged out an infield single, but J-Rod hurt his right ankle at second base on the slide. He looked to be in serious pain and had to be helped off the field. Pinch-hitter Juan Encarnacion grounded into a double play. That really hurt. Cubs 5-2.

Cubs sixth – Two pitchers, no runs
Josh Hancock pitched. Matt Murton walked and Ronny Cedeno singled past Rolen. Blanco moved the runners up on a sacrifice. When Angel Pagan was announced, Randy Flores came in. He collected a couple of fly ball outs to escape. Encarnacion made a nice diving catch on the last one.

Cards seventh – Big guns misfire
Eckstein singled leading off against Roberto Novoa as Ramirez knocked it down, but couldn't make a throw. With one out, Will Ohman came in to face Edmonds, but La Russa sent Pujols up to hit for Edmonds. He walked. But, Spiezio fanned swinging on a check swing for the third out.

Cubs seventh – Cubs score again
Adam Wainwright pitched. Walker and Ramirez both singled to center. Nevin and Jones fanned on outside pitches, but pinch-hitter John Mabry's jam shot single to right scored one. Cubs 6-2.

Cards eighth – Time getting short…
Bobby Howry retired the Cards in order.

Cubs eighth – Looper's best friend
Angel Pagan singled with one out off Braden Looper, but speedy Juan Pierre grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Cards ninth – One run won't do it
Closer Ryan Dempster came on. After two outs, Chris Duncan tripled into the ivy past Pierre in right center. Rolen's single plated the run. But, Pujols popped out to end the game and the forgettable series. Cubs 6-3.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Mon., July 31: Off day
Tue., Aug. 1 vs. Phillies: Jeff Suppan (8-5, 4.98) vs. TBD 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Wed., Aug. 2 vs. Phillies: Jeff Weaver (1-1, 6.46) vs. Brett Myers (6-5, 3.57) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Thu., Aug. 3 vs. Phillies: Jason Marquis (12-8, 5.67) vs. Cole Hamels (2-5, 5.98) 7:10 p.m. FSNM

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

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