Game Observations – Thu. 8/03 – Phillies 8-1

Outpitched, outhit and outfielded again. The Cardinals had another night like many recent ones Thursday evening, losing by an 8-1 score as they were swept in their home series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Despite their seventh consecutive loss, the Cards' 58-49 record maintained their lead over the similarly-slumping Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division at 3-1/2 games.

Cardinals starter Jason Marquis was again not at his best, allowing nine hits and five walks over six innings, and hitting a batter for good measure. Three of his four runs allowed scored in the third inning. Braden Looper allowed two doubles and one run while one of three runs charged to Randy Flores was earned. The defense was again porous, with three errors made.

Unlike Wednesday, when the offense showed some life in fighting almost all the way back from a six-run deficit, Philly starter Cole Hamels mastered them. The rookie fanned 12 hitters, including Ron Belliard, Scott Rolen, Juan Encarnacion and Scott Spiezio twice each and allowed just two hits over seven innings. Rolen had the lone RBI on a sacrifice fly.

One year ago today
On August 3, 2005, the Cardinals rallied from a 4-2 deficit to defeat the Florida Marlins 9-6 at Busch. The Redbirds sent ten batters to the plate in a four-run seventh inning highlighted by So Taguchi's pinch-hit three-run home run. David Eckstein and Mark Grudzielanek each had three hits with Eckstein belting a solo home run and driving in two. Matt Morris won his 12th game of the season.

The match-up
Jason Marquis (12-8, 5.67) vs. rookie Cole Hamels (2-5, 5.98).

The line-up
Eckstein, Belliard, Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion, Spiezio, Taguchi, Bennett and Marquis.
In: Scott Spiezio, So Taguchi and Gary Bennett.
Out: Chris Duncan, Jim Edmonds and Yadier Molina.

On to the game…

Phils first – Trouble brewing
Chase Utley singled with two out and moved up as the vastly-overrated defender So Taguchi committed another error in centerfield, his fifth of the season. Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell walked to load the bases before Aaron Rowand grounded into a force out.

Cards first – A mess
Eckstein drew a leadoff walk. But, then both Belliard and Pujols fanned. With Rolen at the plate, Eckstein was thrown out trying to steal second base to end the inning.

Phils second – Bottom three better
After singling, Chris Coste was erased in an Abraham Nunez double play. Does anybody miss him? The pitcher fanned.

Cards second – Two more Ks
Both Rolen and Encarnacion whiffed swinging.

Phils third – Walks kill
Marquis dug his grave, walking the first two hitters, Jimmy Rollins and David Dellucci. Back-to-back singles by Utley and Howard each scored one. Two outs later, Coste singled in another. Nunez was hit by a pitch, but Hamels fanned again. Phils 3-0.

Cards third – Two more Ks
This time, Taguchi and Marquis were fanned.

Phils fourth – Three fly outs
Dellucci walked with one down, but that was it.

Cards fourth – Threat turned back
Belliard and Pujols singled with one out for the first decent threat of the night. A Rolen sac fly and another Encarnacion strikeout ruined the chance for more. Phils 3-1.

Phils fifth – Took the run right back
Another bad start with three straight singles, by Burrell, Rowand and Coste. The latter plated one run. Marquis did get three outs from the bottom of the order again. Phils 4-1.

Cards fifth – More breeze from the bats
Gary Bennett walked with two out, but Marquis whiffed to end the inning, joining Spiezio, who did the same for the first out. Nine Ks in five frames for Hamels.

Phils sixth – Marquis done
Dellucci singled leading off, but was erased in a double play. In a hollow victory, Marquis fanned Howard, his final batter of the night.

Cards sixth – Top quiet
The first three hitters in the order were each out.

Phils seventh – Not looking crisp
Against Braden Looper, Rowand doubled to right. He stole third and came home when Gary Bennett's throw was wild. Coste singled, perhaps making it a moot point. Without Hamels to strike out to end seemingly every inning, the score would be about 12-1 now. Phils 5-1.

Cards seventh – Swingers and missers
Two more strikeouts – Rolen and Spiezio – as Hamels ended his night with 12.

Phils eighth – Another jam
Rollins doubled leading off. Exit Looper. Tyler Johnson started by walking Dellucci. But, Johnson escaped, getting Burrell on a called strike three for the third out.

Cards eighth – Bring in the reserves
John Rodriguez pinch hit for Taguchi and overanxious, flied out on the first pitch against Geoff Geary. Chris Duncan and Aaron Miles both came off the bench to fly out.

Phils ninth – Insult to injury
Randy Flores served up a lead-off home run to Aaron Rowand. Eckstein committed the Cardinals' sixth error of the series and the third of the night on a bad throw as Nunez reached with one out. Shane Victorino doubled to put two in scoring position. Chris Roberson's dribbler brought one in. The next run came home when Utley singled to right. Phils 8-1.

Cards ninth – Doesn't seem to matter
Eckstein, Belliard and Pujols went down with their team, the game and the series.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
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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