Game Observations – Sat. 8/12 – Pirates 3-2

The St. Louis Cardinals continued their poor play, falling for the second straight night to the team with the worst record in the National League, the Pittsburgh Pirates, this time by a 3-2 score Saturday night. Jeff Weaver took the loss. The Reds' win means the 62-54 Cards' lead over them in the NL Central Division is again down to 2-1/2 games.

Cardinals starter Jeff Weaver was in trouble all night long, but left the game in the sixth having allowed two, but with the bases loaded. Braden Looper gave up a sacrifice fly, but that was all the rest of the way.

The offense was mostly non-existent with the exception of Albert Pujols' two-run home run. Chris Duncan and David Eckstein each doubled, but clutch hits were in very short supply as they couldn't mount any serious threat late in the game. Jim Edmonds fanned three times and Scott Spiezio two, on his way to an 0-for-4.

One year ago today
On August 12, 2005, the Cardinals were defeated by the Cubs 4-1 at Wrigley. Skip Schumaker drove in the lone run with a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning. Albert Pujols, John Rodriguez and Jason Marquis each had two hits. But, Marquis (9-11) suffered his fifth straight loss, allowing three runs on ten hits in seven innings.

Turn back the clock
Celebrating African-American Heritage Weekend in Pittsburgh, both teams wore Negro League replica uniforms. The Pirates became the Homestead Grays and the Cardinals wore the gray and navy blue of old St. Louis Stars. Unfortunately, their red shoes looked out of place. Still, a nice promotion.

The match-up
Jeff Weaver (2-2, 6.93) vs. Ian Snell (9-8, 4.78).

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan, Pujols, Edmonds, Spiezio (3B), Encarnacion, Belliard, Molina and Weaver.
Out: So Taguchi.
In: Chris Duncan.
While most of the players are the same, the order was changed dramatically from Friday, with Chris Duncan back at #2 and Ron Belliard at #7. Jim Edmonds and Juan Encarnacion flipped between clean-up and #6. Duncan and Albert Pujols are the only .300 hitters in the line-up.

On to the game…

Cards first – Two on, two Ks
Chris Duncan doubled to left center with one out. With the base open, Albert Pujols was walked. But, Edmonds fanned swinging and Spiezio went down looking.

Bucs first – Lead taken
Chris Duffy singled leading off and stole second. He moved up on a ground ball and scored on a Freddy Sanchez single. Jason Bay walked, but then Weaver buckled down to get two more outs. Bucs 1-0.

Cards second – Free pass unused
Belliard walked with one out, but that was it.

Bucs second – 7-8-9 deposed
Weaver handled the bottom three in order.

Cards third – Another golden opportunity missed
Eckstein doubled just fair inside the left field line. He motored into second standing up. That was really good to see. Duncan didn't move him over and Pujols popped out. Edmonds reached on an infield hit to second base. Runners at the corners for Spiezio, who fanned again.

Bucs third – Coupla' Ks
Weaver made a nice play on a Duffy comebacker to record the initial out. Jack Wilson singled next. Weaver fanned the following two hitters, the #3 and #4 hitters to end the frame in style.

Cards fourth – Nothing doing
Down in order.

Bucs fourth – Bases loaded hack
Jeromy Burnitz walked to start the inning. Xavier Nady singled between first and second. A strikeout and a nice play by Encarnacion for the second out with the pitcher coming up made it appear that Weaver would escape. However, Snell singled to left for just his second hit of the season. That loaded the bases. The cameras caught Dave Duncan spit a wad onto the protective screen in front of the dugout. I really didn't need to see that. As he grabbed a towel the camera came back to what matters, as Weaver induced Duffy to hit a comebacker to get out of the inning.

Cards fifth – Duncan/Pujols team up
The Cardinal dugout continues to complain about the strike zone of home plate umpire Gerry Davis to Davis. Duncan took a two-out walk on a 3-2 count. Pujols put the first pitch he saw into the left field seats for his 35th home run of the season. It was a line drive that got out in a hurry. Edmonds fanned again. Cards 2-1.

Bucs fifth – Lead quickly evaporates
Sanchez singled to right with one down. Bay followed with a single to left. An RBI single by Burnitz made it three in a row. Duncan the hacker came out to talk with Weaver. That worked great, as Weaver's next pitch grazed Nady's jersey to load the bases for the second inning in a row. Brad Thompson began to warm up. Batista was jammed and popped out for out #2 and Paulino flied out to Edmonds. Tie 2-2.

Cards sixth – Didn't take help
Burnitz went from hero to goat as he dropped Encarnacion's line drive with one out. But, Ron Belliard grounded into a 5-4-3.

Bucs sixth – Down again
Duffy singled for Pittsburgh's ninth of the night. Wilson walked, which brought Duncan the chawless out again. Sanchez singled, but the ball was hit hard enough to right that Duffy didn't come home. Weaver departed after loading the bases for the third straight inning. Braden Looper's first pitch was hit deep to right by Bay for a sac fly. That was all, though. Bucs 3-2.

Cards seventh – Bad break
Molina singled leading off. Nady made a nice play to get the lead runner as Miles, who had come in via the double switch, became the runner. Miles was doubled up on a hit-and-run that was a line drive to center.

Bucs seventh – A runner
Looper walked Bautista with one out. He was stranded.

Cards eighth – In order
Lefty John Grabow pitched and retired the Cards.

Bucs eighth – No trouble
Duffy singled leading off and was bunted into scoring position. But, he didn't score against Looper.

Cards ninth – Not even a whimper
Closer Mike Gonzalez retired the Cards in order.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Sun., Aug. 13 at Pirates: Jason Marquis (12-10, 5.82) vs. Paul Maholm (4-10, 4.81) 12:35 p.m. WB11
Mon., Aug. 14: Off day
Tue., Aug. 15 vs. Reds: vs. Reds: Chris Carpenter (10-6, 3.27) vs. Aaron Harang (12-7, 3.66) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Wed., Aug. 16 vs. Reds: Anthony Reyes (4-5, 4.26) vs. Bronson Arroyo (9-8, 3.54) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Thu., Aug. 17 vs. Reds: Jeff Suppan (9-7, 5.00) vs. Kyle Lohse (2-5, 6.39) 1:10 p.m. FSNM

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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