Game Observations – Sat. 8/05 – Cards 4-3

The St. Louis Cardinals had just enough hitting to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium by a 4-3 mark Saturday night. Anthony Reyes got the win with five innings on the mound. Cincinnati also won, so the Cards' 59-50 record maintains their 2-1/2 game lead over the Reds in the NL Central Division.

Cardinals starter Anthony Reyes lasted five innings, having allowed eight baserunners on five hits and three walks. Two of the three runs against him scored via a Prince Fielder home run. Despite some rough defense by Chris Duncan and So Taguchi, there were also high points, including another highlight reel catch in the sixth by Jim Edmonds that saved the game. Tyler Johnson, Josh Hancock and Braden Looper combined for three shutout innings in total before Jason Isringhausen collected the final three outs for his 29th save.

Albert Pujols again led the way with the bat, with a single, stolen base and a two-run home run. Scott Rolen doubled and collected an RBI. Edmonds doubled and made that game saving catch. Ron Belliard was credited with what would eventually be the game-winning RBI on a timely single.

One year ago today
On August 5, 2005, at Busch, the Cards cruised to an 11-3 win over the Atlanta Braves. All of the position players had at least one hit and scored at least one run. So Taguchi went 2-for-4 with three RBI and Albert Pujols and Abraham Nunez each drove in a pair. The almost-forgotten Mark Mulder earned his 13th win of the season.

The match-up
Anthony Reyes (2-5, 4.56) vs. Ben Sheets (2-3, 4.58).

The line-up
Eckstein, Spiezio (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Belliard, Duncan (RF), Bennett and Reyes.
In: Scott Spiezio and Gary Bennett.
Out: Juan Encarnacion and Yadier Molina.
Scott Spiezio is the next to be given a chance to hit #2. Ron Belliard and Chris Duncan are #6 and #7, respectively.

On to the game…

Brewers first – Good start
Reyes began well, with two strikeouts before issuing a harmless walk to Prince Fielder.

Cards first – Albert hustles, Duncan fails
Eckstein popped out on the first pitch. Odd. Pujols beat the shift with a single to right center with two down. He stole second base on the first pitch to Rolen for his fifth in six attempts this season. Rolen doubled the next pitch off the left field bullpen fence to collect his 69th RBI of the season. Edmonds and Belliard both walked to load the bases. Pitching coach Mike Maddux came out to find out what was going on. Duncan just missed a double into the right field corner before taking a called strike three on an 0-2 count. The unhappy fans booed. Cards 1-0.

Brewers second – Two more Ks
Reyes fanned Bill Hall on a curve looking to start the inning and sat David Bell down swinging to end it.

Cards second – Three Ks for the new pitcher
Geremi Gonzalez took over for an injured Sheets and fanned the side, albeit the light-hitters, Bennett, Reyes and Eckstein. Still, it was three in a row.

Brewers third – Two-out bump
Gabe Gross walked with two out. Tony Graffanino was hit on the shoulder with a fastball up and in to bring up Fielder. He flied out to left.

Cards third – Don't mess with Albert and friends
Spiezio singled leading off. On an 0-2 pitch, Gonzalez retaliated for the hit-by-pitch by coming up an in on Pujols, who was visibly displeased. As the count went to 3-2, Pujols then blasted a two-run jack into the left field seats. It was his 34th of the season. Gonzalez should have tried to hit anyone else. Edmonds shot a double into the right field corner with one down. Belliard scored Edmonds on a long RBI single to left. Duncan walked. Bennett popped out and Reyes fanned. Cards 4-0.

Brewers fourth – Penthouse to outhouse for Reyes
Bill Hall sharply singled to left with one out. It was the Brewers' first hit of the night. Geoff Jenkins followed with a two-run home run high off the right field foul pole. Duncan made an ill-advised, but hustling diving attempt on David Bell's blooper. As the ball rolled to the track, Bell ended up on third with a one-out triple instead of standing on first base with a single. Wayne and Rick went on and on about admiring the hustle and defending Duncan as still learning the position. My take is that the major leagues are no place to learn.

Reyes walked the #8 hitter, Damian Miller, on four pitches. That brought out Duncan the chawless. Brady Clark pinch hit for Gonzalez and singled past Eckstein to bring Bell home. Josh Hancock is warming up even more quickly than before. Two outs were then recorded, though Belliard seemed late to the second base bag when recording the final out. Cards 4-3.

Cards fourth – Third starter in four innings
Like Gonzalez, another former starter, Rick Helling, took the mound. Eckstein walked. But, with one out, Pujols grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Brewers fifth – Reyes on top this time
Mench reached on a one-out infield single. Tyler Johnson is warming up in the pen. After going 3-0, Reyes fanned Jenkins to end the inning on the eighth pitch of the at-bat. That was notable especially since Jenkins homered last time up.

Cards fifth – No help for Rolen
Rolen walked leading off, but the three following couldn't do anything.

Brewers sixth – Tale of three innings in one

So bad in right
In line for a win and not able to take a loss, Reyes was pulled in a double switch with Duncan. So Taguchi and Hancock came in. Immediately, the ball was hit to Taguchi. He made a terrible, terrible play, losing his footing and turning an easy fly into two bases for David Bell. It should have been scored an error on So, not a double. The #8 hitter, Miller, took his second walk of the night. What is going on?

Bell ungrateful with second gift of the night
Helling failed in a bunt attempt as Pujols fired to third. Eckstein took the throw on the wheel play as Bell took him out in a very hard, rolling slide near third base. Replays showed that Bell was outside the base line but the batter was not called out. La Russa came out to rightfully argue the point. Eckstein did not appear to be hurt at least. Miller took third on a fly ball for the second out. Johnson looks ready in the pen. Hancock walked Graffanino as he was unable to get four outs this inning by my count.

Edmonds saves the lead
Johnson came in to face the dangerous Fielder with the bases loaded. Fielder hit the first pitch to short right center. Edmonds ran a long way coming in before making a back-handed, diving and rolling catch just off the grass to save at least two runs. He was shook up, perhaps hurting his left knee, but came off under his own power and remained in the game.

Cards sixth – Quickly past
Helling retired the #8, 9 and 1 hitters without incident, though he did buzz Bennett up and in.

Brewers seventh – Hall finally cleared
Braden Looper took over. Bill Hall singled to right with one out and stole second base easily with a big jump against Looper and a very high throw by Bennett. That led the Cards to intentionally walk Jenkins. Putting the lead runner on base carries risk. Bell stepped in and grounded into a 1-6-3 to end the frame and validate the decision.

Cards seventh – Good glove Hall
Dan Kolb is the new pitcher. Hall made a nice catch on Rolen to end the inning as he caught the ball one-handed running with his back to the infield.

Brewers eighth – Looper redux
Two straight 6-3 plays on the first pitch ended a fast second inning for Looper. The Cards may have received a break on the first one, by Jeff Cirillo.

Cards eighth – No insurance
John Rodriguez pinch-hit with two out and took a walk against Kolb. Jeff Weaver pinch-ran for the sore-ankled outfielder, but was stranded.

Brewers ninth – Izzy time
Closer Jason Isringhausen pitched in his first save opportunity in five appearances since July 25. Three jam shots ended the game extraordinarily efficiently for Izzy.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Sun., Aug. 6 vs. Brewers: Jeff Suppan (8-6, 5.07) vs. Chris Capuano (10-6, 3.74) 1:15 p.m. WB11
Mon., Aug. 7 @ Reds: Jeff Weaver (1-2, 8.68) vs. Elizardo Ramirez (4-7, 4.47) 6:10 p.m. FSNM
Tue., Aug. 8 @ Reds: Jason Marquis (12-9, 5.68) vs. Eric Milton (7-7, 5.20) 6:10 p.m. FSNM
Wed., Aug. 9 @ Reds: Chris Carpenter (10-6, 3.06) vs. Aaron Harang (12-7, 3.53) 6:10 p.m. FSNM
Thu., Aug. 10 @ Reds: Anthony Reyes (3-5, 4.63) vs. Bronson Arroyo (9-7, 3.31)+ 11:35 a.m. FSNM/ESPN

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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