Game Observations – Wed. 8/02 – Phillies 16-8

"Baseball Heaven" offered a decidedly unreligious-like experience Wednesday evening as the St. Louis Cardinals dropped the home series, falling once again to the Philadelphia Phillies by an ugly 16-8 score. Despite their sixth consecutive loss, the Cards' 58-48 record maintained their lead over the also-slumping Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division at 3-1/2 games.

Cardinals starter Jeff Weaver nibbled and nibbled as the Phils bit him early and often, as he was charged with seven runs in 3-1/3 ugly innings and putting his team deep into a hole. Weaver allowed two home runs among his eight hits, two walks and a hit batter for good measure. Mark Mulder, please get well soon!

The offense clawed back after Weaver's early exit, getting the score to 8-7 before Braden Looper and Randy Flores pulled a Weaver of their own in the eighth. The two were charged with five earned runs on six hits while managing to secure just one out between them. Josh Hancock allowed three more in the ninth before leaving due to injury.

It was an awful pitching performance providing a flashback to interleague play, except this was against a lesser team. Because of the ineffectiveness, La Russa burned through his entire pen, including Jason Isringhausen.

The offense showed enough to win, despite Albert Pujols striking out and grounding into two double plays. Chris Duncan walked, doubled and hit a home run for two RBI. He also scored twice. Yadier Molina also plated two, in the process tripling his total RBI output since July 16. Though he didn't start, Aaron Miles walked and stroked a two-run home run of his own. Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds each singled, doubled, scored and drove in one.

One year ago today
On August 2, 2005, Chris Carpenter won his eighth straight game, tossing a three-hitter in a complete-game, 3-1 win over Florida at Busch. Carpenter became baseball's first 16-game winner and the 16 wins set his career single-season high. John Gall drove in the game winning run with a two-run double in the third inning. Jim Edmonds added an RBI single for insurance in the fifth. Albert Pujols scored a pair of runs.

The match-up
Jeff Weaver (1-1, 6.46) vs. Phillies ace and former amateur boxer Brett Myers (6-5, 3.57), who had been suspended recently after being charged with spousal abuse.

The line-up
Eckstein, Belliard, Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Encarnacion, Duncan, Molina and Weaver.
Out: none.
In: none.
The only change among the top eight is a swap between lefty Chris Duncan (OBP of .344) drops from #2 to #7, while righty Ron Belliard (career OBP .340) headed up against the right-hander Myers.

On to the game…

Phils first – The other Jimmy jacks one
Weaver's first pitch was slammed into the right field seats by Jimmy Rollins. David Dellucci singled on his second offering. Pujols made a nice tag on Chase Utley as the runner moved into scoring position. Ryan Howard fanned for the second out, but Pat Burrell walked after Weaver had him 1-2 in the count. Rowand flied out to retire the side. It could have been a lot worse and probably will. Phils 1-0.

Cards first – In order
Number 2 man Belliard fanned between two ground outs.

Phils second – Weaver screamer
On the first pitch of the inning, Mike Lieberthal singled up the middle. On the second pitch he saw, Abraham Nunez doubled into the right field corner as Lieberthal stopped at third. With one out, Rollins was hit on the toe by a pitch to load the bases. Dellucci hit a 3-1 pitch into short left center for a two-RBI single. Duncan fielded the ball, but his throw home was far off line as that second run slid home. Pujols robbed an RBI double from Utley, snaring the ball and beating the runner to the bag. Both runners moved into scoring position for Ryan Howard. He plated them both on a hard-hit single to left-center that curled away from Edmonds. Duncan the elder came out for a discussion. Josh Hancock began to stretch in the pen. The third out was on Weaver's 47th pitch of the night. Phils 5-0.

Cards second – Only down three due to Dunc
Edmonds singled to right with one out. He scored as Chris Duncan blasted a two-run shot just over the wall and onto the berm in dead center. It was his seventh home run of the season. Phils 5-2.

Phils third – Nice 4-6-3
Lieberthal singled with one out for the Phils' seventh hit already. A Belliard-Eckstein-Pujols double play did the trick.

Cards third – A bad DP
Eckstein singled past short with one out. Rarely does Eckstein swing on the first pitch, but it worked well this time. Belliard and Eckstein teamed up on a bad double play to end this half of the frame.

Phils fourth – Boo-bye
Weaver walked Myers leading off and was booed. He's just trying to get Myers tired. That's it. Right. Tyler Johnson is throwing quickly in the bullpen. Rollins grounded into a force out, but his speed helped avert the double play. Dellucci put a ball into the Phils' pen for a two-run shot as the Busch fans booed again. That changed to a mock cheer as La Russa came out and back to boos as Weaver trudged off the field, head down. Johnson collected the final two outs. Phils 7-2.

Cards fourth – Big K bookends
Pujols fanned leading off and Edmonds fanned to end it.

Phils fifth – This Sosa knows home runs, too
Jorge Sosa pitched for the second night in a row. Rowand homered into the Cards' pen. Sosa has now allowed a startling 21 long balls this season. Duncan the former backstop made a cameo appearance on the mound with two down. Can he pitch? Phils 8-2.

Cards fifth – K crazy
Duncan fanned looking for the second out and soon Molina struck out, too. That is seven Ks for Myers in just five innings.

Phils sixth – Three down
Ground out and two pop outs as Sosa completed his second and final inning.

Cards sixth – Got one back
Miles hit for Johnson and singled. Pinch-hitter Scott Spiezio fanned. With two down, Pujols reached via an infield single to put runners on the corners. Rolen collected the RBI on a single to center. Edmonds bounced out. Phils 8-3.

Phils seventh – New guys up the middle
Adam Wainwright took over, Miles made an appearance at short and Spiezio became the second baseman as La Russa showed his back-ups some playing time. Howard walked with one out. Burrell singled. Then the new keystone combo paired up for a double play of their own to end the inning.

Cards seventh – Clawing back in it
Encarnacion stroked a lead-off single. Duncan doubled into the right field corner to put two in scoring position. Molina shot a single off the glove of the diving Nunez at third base to score two and end Myers' outing. Ryan Madson came in just in time to serve up a two-run home run to light-hitting Aaron Miles. Jason Marquis pinch hit for the second consecutive night and flied out to center. Spiezio coaxed a free pass ahead of Pujols. Not this time, as Albert grounded into a tailor-made double play. Phils 8-7..

Phils eighth – Leaky Looper and Floundering Flores
Braden Looper was asked to keep it close. Didn't work. Lieberthal sharply singled past Rolen leading off. Chris Roberson pinch ran and took second on an out. Coste shot a double past Pujols for the RBI. Rollins singled to right. Coste stopped at third, but Rollins moved up to second as there was no cut off man to stop Encarnacion's throw home. Exit Looper, enter Flores. Encarnacion made a diving try on Shane Victorino's blooper, but the ball bounced off his glove and rolled away. Two more scored on the triple before Pujols corralled the ball in foul territory. Chase Utley hit a nubber to Flores, who looked the runner back to third and threw late and a bit wide to first. It was scored a single, extending Utley's hit streak to 34 games. Howard's sharp single to right plated another. Runners on the corners with one out and the sixth reliever – Josh Hancock came in. Only Izzy remains in the pen. A sac fly scored the lucky 13th run. Phils 13-7.

Cards eighth – Still fighting
Against former Cardinal Rick White, Rolen stroked a lead-off double deep to left-center. Edmonds also doubled off the wall in right to score Rolen. Duncan walked, but Molina's double play ended the rally. Phils 13-8.

Phils ninth – Hancock hammered
Rolen mishandled a hot shot by Roberson for his tenth error of the season. Nunez walked. Spiezio and Encarnacion almost had a bad collision as the two didn't communicate well on a fly ball for the first out. Rollins clubbed a three-run homer to send the last fans toward the exits. Hancock took a shot off his right knee and had to leave the game, extending the agony. Jason Isringhausen allowed Utley a single off Miles' glove at short before fanning Howard. Phils 16-8.

Cards ninth – Fultz house
Lefty Aaron Fultz walked Miles and pinch-hitter So Taguchi. Pujols grounded into his second double play of the night – fitting ending to a long, long evening.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Thu., Aug. 3 vs. Phillies: Jason Marquis (12-8, 5.67) vs. Cole Hamels (2-5, 5.98) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Fri., Aug. 4 vs. Brewers: Chris Carpenter (10-5, 2.93) vs. Doug Davis (6-6, 5.02) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Sat., Aug. 5 vs. Brewers: Anthony Reyes (2-5, 4.56) vs. Ben Sheets (2-3, 4.58) 6:15 p.m. WB11
Sun., Aug. 6 vs. Brewers: Jeff Suppan (8-6, 5.07) vs. Chris Capuano (10-6, 3.74) 1:15 p.m. WB11
Note that Carpenter and Reyes were flipped in the rotation by manager Tony La Russa.

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

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