Game Observations – Fri. 8/18 – Cards 11-3

On Friday afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals broke their eight-game losing streak at Wrigley Field, taking the first in the weekend series by a 11-3 score. Newcomer Preston Wilson hit one of the Cardinals' six long balls. David Eckstein left the game with an oblique strain. Temporarily, the Cards' 65-56 record opened their lead in the NL Central Division over the Reds to three games.

Cardinals starter Jason Marquis allowed his 29th and 30th home runs and three runs overall. Still, he managed to survive five innings to tie for the National League lead in wins at 13, despite his 5.70 ERA. Marquis also collected his first-ever career win at Wrigley in the process. The bullpen contributed four shutout innings.

The offense collected fifteen hits including six home runs, winning that battle within a battle, 6-2. Chris Duncan singled, homered and drove in two as did Preston Wilson, also swiping a base in his first game in the uniform. Albert Pujols had a two-run shot among his three hits and three RBI. Ron Belliard (two RBI), Scott Rolen and Gary Bennett (two hits) also went deep. On the downside, David Eckstein left the game with an oblique strain.

One year ago today
On August 18, 2005, The Cardinals lost 9-2 to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Busch. Jason Marquis suffered his sixth straight loss, allowing six runs on 10 hits in 7-2/3 innings. He went 2-for-3 at the plate and drove in a run in the losing effort. The Cards were out-hit 14-6 as the D'Backs scored six runs on eight hits with two outs.

The match-up
Jason Marquis (12-11, 5.71) vs. rookie Carlos Marmol (5-5, 5.00).

The line-up
Eckstein, Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion (CF), Wilson (RF), Belliard, Bennett and Marquis.
In: Preston Wilson, Ron Belliard, Gary Bennett.
Out: So Taguchi, Aaron Miles, Yadier Molina.
Juan Encarnacion slides back to center from right. New acquisition Preston Wilson is in right, batting sixth and wearing uniform #3. Ron Belliard was dropped to #7 in the order.

On to the game…

Cards first – Alright!
Duncan homered into the first row of seats in right center with one out. Cards 1-0.

Cubs first – Gone again
With two out, Michael Barrett took it right back with a blast deep to the bleachers in left. Make that 29 home runs allowed by Marquis. Bennett made a nice catch at the dugout for the third out. Tie 1-1.

Cards second – Presto change-o
Preston Wilson made his first Cardinals at-bat count, with a single up the middle with one out. Wilson swiped second base on the next pitch, which ended up eluding Barrett, anyway. But, neither Belliard nor Bennett could get him home.

Cubs second – Twin Ks
Strikeouts began and ended a nice 1-2-3 for Marquis.

Cards third –Three (plus) errors mean three runs
Leading off, Marquis reached on what was scored an infield single. New Cubs second baseman Ronny Cedeno rushed what should have been a routine play. I would have scored it as an error. Eckstein singled on a hit-and-run to put runners on the corners with no one out. A sloppy play by the Cubs as Duncan hit a fly to mid left. The cutoff man, Ramirez, missed the throw, allowing an alert Eckstein to move into scoring position. Pujols singled sharply to left. The throw home was in time to nail Eckstein, but the ball rolled away from Barrett. Pujols was caught between second and third, but the pitcher threw wildly to second. As the ball rolled into center, Pujols took third. Rolen was hit on the ribs by a pitch and warnings to both benches were immediately issued by the home plate umpire. Not surprisingly, both managers came out to ask why. Seemed premature. Marmol made a pickoff attempt at first. The wild throw allowed Pujols to trot home and Rolen moved up. Encarnacion singled past short to put runners on the corners. Wilson lined out and Belliard flied out to end it. Thank God, the Cubs are still the Cubs! Cards 4-1.

Cubs third – Eckstein leaves game
Before the inning started, Eckstein was unable to go defensively. He came off the field with trainer Barry Weinberg, clutching his left side – another oblique strain. Eck had slid hard into the catcher when scoring the first run in the top of the inning. Aaron Miles replaced Eckstein. Duncan made a diving catch on a Juan Pierre liner in left for the third out.

Cards fourth – Pitching change
Despite hitting last inning, Marmol was pulled from the game in favor of Roberto Novoa. Bennett indoctrinated him well with a single past first base. He was stranded, however.

Cubs fourth – Guess what?
Barrett walked with two out. Aramis Ramirez then almost put the ball out of the entire park, deep to the last row of seats in left. The two-run homer is Marquis' 30th allowed. Can you say "Garrett Stephenson"? New shortstop Miles made a fielding error against Angel Pagan, but no further damage was caused. Cards 4-3.

Cards fifth – 6-3 x 3
Three 6-3 outs.

Cubs fifth – Triple not trouble
Juan Pierre saw ten pitches before shooting a triple into the right field corner. At least there were two out, as he was stranded right there.

Cards sixth – Two homers
Adam Wainwright began to warm up. Wilson homered deep to left center. Bennett went deep to center one out later. David Aardsma came on to get the final two outs. Cards 6-3.

Cubs sixth – Hold ‘em
Wainwright took over. Jacque Jones singled to center with two out. That was it.

Cards seventh – Three long ones put it away
Duncan singled and scored on a Pujols laser into the bleachers in left center. Rolen blasted one of his own next off the Aardvark. After Encarnacion singled, Belliard was next to homer. A pitching change was finally made to Michael Wuertz. Cards 11-3.

Cubs seventh – Tap dancing
Braden Looper took over on the mound. He allowed a two-out single to Matt Murton, who was then forced at second on a rolling, acrobatic play by Belliard.

Cards eighth – 15th hit
Pujols singled to left with two down. That was it.

Cubs eighth – Git ‘er done
Looper stayed on. Barrett doubled. Tyler Johnson came on with two out to get Jacque Jones. Mission accomplished 4-3.

Cards ninth – Ouch!
Will Ohman took over for Wuertz. Encarnacion hit the dirt, in pain after fouling a ball off his left inside ankle. The Cards went down in order.

Cubs ninth – Finished
Josh Hancock was asked to get the last three outs. But, Wilson played a long fly ball by Mabry into a long double, getting turned around on the track. Another long fly was hauled down by Duncan to end it.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
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. Juan Mateo or Rich Hill 1:20 p.m. WB11
Mon., Aug. 21: Off day

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

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