Game Observations – Sun. 8/06 – Cards 7-1

The St. Louis Cardinals combined great pitching and solid hitting to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium by a 7-1 mark Sunday night. Jeff Suppan earned his ninth win with 7-1/3 one-run innings. Cincinnati lost, so the Cards' 60-50 record restored their 3-1/2 game lead over the Reds in the NL Central Division.

Cardinals starter Jeff Suppan again pitched very well, allowing just four hits and one run in 7-1/3 innings on the mound. He struck out seven and walked only one. His season ERA slipped under five and his ninth win was collected. Jorge Sosa tossed the final 1-2/3 innings, collecting his first save as a Cardinal.

Juan Encarnacion had the big blow, a three-run home run that broke open a 1-0 match. He also doubled and scored twice. Scott Rolen added a two-run jack in the eighth. Newcomer Ron Belliard contributed a pair of singles, scoring and driving in one. Albert Pujols had a pair of singles and a double and scored twice.

One year ago today
On August 6, 2005, Jason Marquis was perfect through four innings before falling apart, allowing two runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth to take the loss in an 8-1 defeat to Atlanta at Busch Stadium. The lone Cards run was driven in on a double by Mark Grudzielanek, who went 3-for-4. Albert Pujols went 2-for-3.

The match-up
Jeff Suppan (8-6, 5.07) vs. Chris Capuano (10-6, 3.74).

The line-up
Eckstein, Spiezio (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion, Belliard, Taguchi (CF), Molina and Suppan.
Out: Jim Edmonds, Chris Duncan and Gary Bennett.
In: Juan Encarnacion, So Taguchi and Yadier Molina.
The lefty hitters all sat on the bench against the lefty Capuano. In a good piece of news, Jim Edmonds was not injured Saturday night on his game-saving catch. The wind was just knocked out of him. However, John Rodriguez' sprained ankle has not sufficiently improved that he could play in the field.

On to the game…

Brewers first – Two Ks for Soup
After Brady Clark fanned, Tony Graffanino singled with one out. Prince Fielder walked, but was forced a second on a grounder to Eckstein by Kevin Mench. With runners at the corners, Bill Hall was out on a called strike three.

Cards first – Rolen whiffs
Pujols singled with two out. When Brady Clark in center didn't throw the ball back in quickly, Pujols made an aggressive move toward second. He got back to first just in time. Rolen swung and missed on a high pitch to end the inning.

Brewers second – Pleasantly quiet
Suppan had a quick frame.

Cards second – First blood
Ron Belliard singled to right center with one out. So Taguchi whacked a high 3-2 pitch into the left field corner for a double that scored the run. Molina and Suppan stranded So at third. Cards 1-0..

Brewers third – 27 on 27
Rolen made a nice play coming in to retire his opposite number 27, Clark. Graffanino singled to right with two out. Fielder fanned for the third out.

Cards third – News flash: Albert fans
Eckstein's swinging strike three ball hit his foot and got away from the catcher. He ran to first before being called back and sent to the bench with a strikeout. Pujols also fanned to end the frame.

Brewers fourth – Just keep moving, folks…
Another speedy frame for Soup.

Cards fourth – Quick work
Rolen fanned again, looking, as part of a 1-2-3 inning.

Brewers fifth – Speeding along
Suppan continued this refreshing stretch of brisk baseball, with another strikeout (of Capuano) to end the at-bats for the Brew Crew.

Cards fifth – Under water
With one out, Molina pulled a ball down the line past the diving Bell at third. Diving Bell. Get it? Anyway, Molina chugged into second without even drawing a throw. Suppan couldn't get the bat on the ball and Eckstein lined out to short to end it.

Brewers sixth – Ten up and down
Rolen made a nice charging in play on a Suppan jam job to retire Graffanino for out #2. With the third out, Suppan has now set down ten in a row.

Cards sixth – Juan jacks a big one
Leading off, Spiezio laid down a beautiful bunt toward third, but Bell couldn't field it. Pujols shot a line-drive, opposite-field single to right. Spiezio didn't have time to get to third. Rolen couldn't convert, but Encarnacion picked him and the team up. His 16th home run of the season flew into the Brewers bullpen on a rope. Cards 4-0.

Brewers seventh – New streak starts
Mench singled to end Suppan's run of outs. Suppan fanned Bell to end the inning. It was his seventh K in seven innings.

Cards seventh – Suppan with the bat
Suppan was knocked down by pitcher Matt Wise and responded with a double to left. He was stranded there.

Brewers eighth – Soup's done
Back up catcher Mike Rivera homered to left to remove the shut out. With one out, Suppan was relieved in favor of Jorge Sosa. Soup departed to a standing ovation and tipped his cap in polite acknowledgement. Sosa quietly collected his two outs. Cards 4-1.

Cards eighth – Breaking Turnbow open
Deposed Brewers closer Derrick Turnbow pitched. Pujols doubled into the left field corner, going in without a throw. He then forced Turnbow into a balk by dancing off second base. Rolen hit his first homer in almost a month, since the ninth of July. Both runs scored as the baseball sailed into the seats in left. Encarnacion doubled into the left center gap and scored on Belliard's single. Cards 7-1.

Brewers ninth – Izzy time pre-empted
Closer Jason Isringhausen was set to take the mound, but Rolen's home run removed the save situation. So, Sosa remained in the game and collected the save, his fourth of the season and first as a Cardinal. Mench collected a harmless hit with one out, but the game ended with an around-the-horn double play.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
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, 3.47) 11:35 a.m. FSNM/ESPN

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

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