Game Observations – Wed. 8/16 – Reds 7-2

The St. Louis Cardinals have split the first two against the Cincinnati Reds, losing game two by a 7-2 score at Busch Wednesday night. Anthony Reyes allowed three of the Reds' five home runs. The Cards' 63-56 record translates to just a 1.5 game lead in the NL Central Division over these Reds.

Cardinals starter Anthony Reyes was not sharp from the very start, ultimately lasting only one out into the fourth inning. He allowed five runs on three home runs and a single and also walked three. Jorge Sosa, apparently being considered as a spot starter, gave up two more home runs of his own, running his total to 23 long balls allowed this season.

It was an evening of missed opportunities offensively. Albert Pujols can't do it every night, as he collected the first RBI on a fielders' choice, but stranded seven runners on the evening. Newcomer Timo Perez twice failed with the bases loaded, with just a fielders' choice RBI ground out to show for his efforts while stranding the other five.

On the positive side, Chris Duncan had a nice night with three hits in four official at-bats, including a double, plus a walk. The 25-year-old's batting average has increased to .327, helping to solidify his grasp on the left field job.

One year ago today
On August 16, 2005, Jeff Suppan pitched seven solid innings for his 12th win and the Cardinals' offense collected 15 hits in an 8-2 win vs. Arizona at Busch Stadium. Suppan matched a season high with seven strikeouts and walked none. So Taguchi paced the offense, going 4-for-5 with three doubles and three RBI. Jim Edmonds had two hits and drove in a pair of runs.

The match-up
Anthony Reyes (4-5, 4.26) vs. Bronson Arroyo (9-8, 3.54).

Another starter?
Hungo reported that Tony La Russa was seriously considering starting Jorge Sosa in either Thursday's or Saturday's game, but ultimately decided to leave Sosa in long relief for now.

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Perez (RF), Encarnacion (CF), Miles, Bennett and Reyes.
In: Timo Perez, Aaron Miles, Gary Bennett.
Out: Jim Edmonds, Ronnie Belliard, Yadier Molina.
Despite finally breaking out with the bat, Ron Belliard sits down as Aaron Miles, coming off a good showing against Arroyo last week, gets another chance. Timo Perez, fresh up from Triple-A, hits fifth. Juan Encarnacion, perhaps being given an audition for playing center in 2007, is making his fifth game appearance there this season. He has 320 games at the position over his career.

On to the game…

Reds first – Good start
Reyes retired his opponents in order.

Cards first – RISP
Eckstein took a leadoff walk. So did Duncan. But, Pujols grounded into a double play. Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips expressed concern of the intensity of Duncan's slide. Eckstein moved up to third, but remained there as Rolen was retired.

Reds second – Down one
Edwin Encarnacion blasted a home run over the bullpen in left. Dunn walked. Rolen made a nice play to get the lead man at second as Phillips took over at first base. He fanned David Ross to end it, but has already thrown 43 pitches in two innings. At this rate, another five-inning outing is in the cards. Reds 1-0.

Cards second – Nothing doing
The 5-6-7 hitters went down in order.

Reds third – Edwin exits another
Freel softly singled to right with one out. Griffey walked with two out on Reyes' 60th pitch of the night. Edwin Encarnacion did it again, with a three-run home run to left. Jorge Sosa began to warm up. Reds 4-0.

Cards third – Hitting the leather
With one out, Reyes singled off Hatteberg's glove for the Cards' first hit of the night. Eckstein then lined a ball of Phillips' glove at second after battling for nine pitches. Duncan's sharp single to right loaded the bases. Pujols got an RBI, but forced out Duncan at second on the fielders' choice. Rolen took an intentional unintentional walk to get to Perez. He popped up on a 3-2 pitch as Dunn barely made the catch. Reds 4-1.

Reds fourth – Run right back
Rich Aurilia homered leading off, the Reds' third in the first four innings. A walk to Ross was all for Anthony, as Sosa relieved him with one out. Arroyo move the runner up. Hatteberg flied out, as Duncan made his second putout of the inning. Why can't he be taught to catch the ball with two hands? Reds 5-1.

Cards fourth – Nothing cooking
Another 1-2-3 for Arroyo.

Reds fifth – Two more long ones
Griffey shot a line drive home run to right. After Encarnacion was finally retired, Dunn made Sosa pay with a shot to right of his own. Still having just under 100 innings on the mound this season, they were Sosa's 22nd and 23rd home runs allowed. Reds 7-1.

Cards fifth – Pujols leaves another
Jason Marquis pinch hit and grounded out. Duncan's two-out double was wasted as Pujols lined out to right. That makes five runners stranded by Pujols on the night.

Reds sixth – Looper keeping it down
Braden Looper took over. Three straight ground ball outs were nice to see.

Cards sixth – Twin Ks
Rolen and Juan Encarnacion respectively started and ended the 1-2-3 inning by striking out.

Reds seventh – Flores' turn
Randy Flores issued his team's fifth walk of the night, a one-out gift to Griffey. But, Flores fanned Dunn for the third out.

Cards seventh – Down fast again
Three more quick outs by Arroyo, including pinch-hitter Scott Spiezio to end it.

Reds eighth – Josh's journey
Aurilia singled to center, greeting Josh Hancock. Phillips hitting into a double play sped matters along.

Cards eighth – A drip against Mr. Coffey
Todd Coffey pitched. Eckstein reached on a strikeout in the dirt as the ball got away from Ross for a wild pitch. Duncan singled for his third hit to again bring up Albert with two more runners on base. He failed again. Rolen singled to load the bases. Timo Perez grounded weakly to the right side as Eckstein came home. Reds 7-2.

Reds ninth – Tyler time
Tyler Johnson came on to pitch. Freel walked with one out for the team's sixth free pass. The team's third twin killing on the night helped get them off the field more quickly as Miles made a nice turn.

Cards ninth – A hard nine?
Former closer David Weathers was asked to get the last three outs. Miles singled. Eckstein reached on a fielding error by his opposite number Juan Castro, who entered the game in the ninth. Duncan fanned to end the game.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Thu., Aug. 17 vs. Reds: Jeff Weaver (2-3, 6.60) vs. Kyle Lohse (2-5, 6.39) 1:10 p.m. FSNM
Fri., Aug. 18 at Cubs: Jason Marquis (12-11, 5.71) vs. Carlos Marmol (5-5, 5.00) 1:20 p.m. FSNM
Sat., Aug. 19 at Cubs: Jeff Suppan (9-7, 5.00) vs. Carlos Zambrano (13-5, 3.38) 12:25 p.m. Big FOX
Sun., Aug. 20 at Cubs: Chris Carpenter (11-6, 3.09) vs. TBA 1:20 p.m. WB11
Mon., Aug. 21: Off day

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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