Game Observations – Wed. 8/09 – Reds 8-7

Closer Jason Isringhausen served up a walk off home run to David Ross of the Cincinnati Reds as the St. Louis Cardinals twice blew leads in an 8-7 heartbreaker Wednesday night at Great American Ballpark. With the loss, the Cards' 61-52 record means their lead over the Reds in the NL Central Division is down to 2-1/2 games.

Chris Carpenter allowed three solo home runs in the early going and three more runs in the sixth inning, yet stayed on through seven, with a chance to collect his 11th win of the season. Carp was clearly not at his best again, surrendering six hits, while striking out six. Jason Isringhausen escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth but blew his eighth game of the 2006 season on David Ross' walk off home run in the ninth.

Jim Edmonds put the Cardinals in the driver's seat with the sixth grand slam of his career in the first inning. David Eckstein had three hits, but scored only once. Chris Duncan walked and collected two singles. Albert Pujols scored twice and Scott Spiezio hit a two-run home run.

One year ago today
On August 9, 2005, Anthony Reyes made his long-awaited major league debut against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Reyes worked 6-1/3 solid innings, fanning five, and went on to win the game, 5-2. Mark Grudzielanek drove home two runs and John Rodriguez snapped an 0-for-10 slide with the go-ahead RBI single. Jason Isringhausen posted his 30th save, reaching that mark for the fifth time in his career.

The match-up
A pair of aces with Chris Carpenter (10-6, 3.06) vs. Aaron Harang (12-7, 3.53).

J-Rod down and Brad up
With the bullpen having been seriously taxed, Brad Thompson was recalled from Memphis to provide pitching depth. Outfielder John Rodriguez was sent down to make room.

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Encarnacion, Belliard, Molina and Carpenter.
In: Jim Edmonds and Chris Duncan.
Out: So Taguchi and Scott Spiezio.
With the return of Duncan to the line-up at #2, Ron Belliard was deposited back at #7.

On to the game…

Cards first – Grand salami
Consecutive singles by Eckstein and Duncan set the table for Pujols. Albert reached in an unexpected manner, as former Cardinal Royce Clayton committed a fielding error. After Scott Rolen fanned, Jim Edmonds cleared the bases with a grand slam to left. It was the sixth of his career. Cards 4-0.

Reds first – No coming back
Scott Hatteberg and Ken Griffey, Jr. struck out to conclude a perfect first.

Cards second – Carp does it all
Carpenter singled up the middle with one out. That was all she wrote.

Reds second – Got one back
As did Edmonds, Adam Dunn went the other way, homering to left. However, the bases were empty. Cards 4-1.

Cards third – Nice "D"
Leading off, Pujols doubled on a hard shot off Encarnacion's glove at third. Edmonds was walked intentionally with one out. Phillips and Freel almost collided, with the second baseman making the leaping catch with his back to the plate for the third out.

Reds third – Rolen out
Scott Rolen left the game with upper back spasms and was replaced by Scott Spiezio. With the demotion of John Rodriguez, that only leaves Bennett, Miles and Taguchi (plus Marquis) on the bench. With two down, Pujols was running down a ball in foul territory when Encarnacion ran in. They avoided the collision but the ball dropped. Carp made it a moot point with a strikeout of Hatteberg.

Cards fourth – More Cincy glovework
Edwin Encarnacion made a great stop on Eckstein to end the inning.

Reds fourth – Two more solo shots
Hatteberg homered to right off Carp's first offering of the inning. Edwin Encarnacion put a 3-1 pitch into the seats in left. Cards 4-3.

Cards fifth – Lead of three
Pujols walked with one out and scored on a Spiezio home run just inside the right field foul pole. Cards 6-3.

Reds fifth – Looking for a baserunner
Carp mowed them down and has only deployed 61 pitches all game in doing so.

Cards sixth – Albert fails
Belliard singled off Phillips' glove leading off. He moved up to second and took third on a two-out swinging bunt infield single by Eckstein. Duncan walked to load the bases for Pujols, who fanned swinging on a ball in the dirt.

Reds sixth – Lead gone
Hatteberg singled to center with one out. Griffey looped a ball to left, but Duncan the chaw didn't make a fast break. He dived, but trapped the ball. Encarnacion was hit on the hand by a pitch to load the bases. Duncan the chawless game on to chat. One run scored on a sac fly by Hatteberg. Phillips tied the game as his ball got over Edmonds' head in center to bring two in. Tie 6-6.

Cards seventh – Burning the pen
Former Cardinals Rheal Cormier took over for Harang and the Reds. Encarnacion singled to left center with two out. David Weathers was brought in to get the third out and did.

Reds seventh – Good to see
Belliard made a great off-balance throw to nip Jason LaRue at first as Carpenter stayed on to retire the side.

Cards eighth – Back on top, but…
Bill Bray pitched. Molina greeted him with a gapper to left center for a stand up double, so you know it was struck well. Pinch-hitting, So Taguchi sacrificed him up to third. Eckstein fisted an RBI singled into short right. Duncan followed with a broken bat single to center. Todd Coffey relieved Bray. After Pujols popped up on the infield, Spiezio walked to load the bases. Out goes Coffey, in comes another former Cardinal, Kent Mercker. He retired Edmonds to minimize the damage. Cards 7-6.

Reds eighth – Early Izzy time
Randy Flores walked the lead runner, Hatteberg. Griffey hit a high fly that Edmonds caught on the track in right. That was all for Flores, as La Russa sent Duncan out to perform the honor. Jason Isringhausen was asked to get five outs. Encarnacion looped a single to left, but Izzy and his teammates collected the final two outs.

Cards ninth – Moving on
Ryan Franklin took his turn on the mound and picked up his three outs in succession.

Reds ninth – Izzy blows #8
Izzy walked Rich Aurilia with one out. Chris Denorfia pinch ran. Duncan the goatee less came out, apparently to discuss how to pitch to David Ross. He should have stayed longer, as Ross put the baseball deep into the seats in left center. Reds 8-7.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Thu., Aug. 10 @ Reds: Anthony Reyes (3-5, 4.63) vs. Bronson Arroyo (9-7, 3.47) 11:35 a.m. FSNM/ESPN
Fri., Aug. 11 at Pirates: Jeff Suppan (9-6, 4.85) vs. Zach Duke (7-10, 5.35) 6:05 p.m. FSNM
Sat., Aug. 12 at Pirates: Jeff Weaver (2-2, 6.93) vs. Ian Snell (9-8, 4.78) 6:05 p.m. WB11
Sun., Aug. 13 at Pirates: Jason Marquis (12-10, 5.82) vs. Paul Maholm (4-10, 4.81) 12:35 p.m. WB11

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

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