Game Observations – Tue. 8/22 – Mets 8-7

The St. Louis Cardinals fell with a thud in the first in the road midweek series against the team with the best record in the NL, the New York Mets, losing by an 8-7 score on Tuesday night at Shea Stadium. Albert Pujols' two home runs and seven RBI were wasted when Jason Isringhausen blew the save in the bottom of the ninth.

This was a night for the hitters and the long ball as MVP candidates Albert Pujols and Carlos Delgado both hit two home runs, including a grand slam for each. But, the Cardinals' slugger's also hit a three-run shot, as his seven RBI trumped the Mets' star's five. Still, Carlos Beltran's two-run walk-off shot in the bottom of the ninth struck the final blow for the home team.

Jeff Weaver started for the Cards and managed to mostly stay out of trouble except for Carlos Delgado, who hit both his homers off Weaver in five innings. The second was a grand slam that sucked the momentum away from the Cards, after they had just taken a six-run lead. The bullpen let it get away as Jason Isringhausen blew his league-leading ninth save of the season and took his fourth loss. With the loss, the Cards' dropped their lead in the NL Central Division over the Reds to only one game with their 66-58 record.

One year ago today
On August 22, 2005, the Cardinals' Mark Mulder won his 15th game as the offense collected 12 hits, all in the first six innings, as they defeated Pittsburgh 3-1. Mulder allowed a run on three hits in eight innings with Jason Isringhausen picking up his 33rd save. Larry Walker and Abraham Nunez had three hits each and David Eckstein and Hector Luna had a pair apiece.

The match-up
Jeff Weaver (2-3, 5.54) vs. John Maine (3-3, 2.68).

The line-up
Miles (SS), Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion (CF), Wilson (RF), Belliard, Molina and Weaver.
In/Out: none.
Same starting eight as Sunday. David Eckstein is in St. Louis and will go onto the disabled list Wednesday as Mark Mulder comes off. Jim Edmonds is also not in the line-up, but is cleared to play.

On to the game…

Cards first – Albert Ks
Pujols fanned swinging to end a quick frame.

Mets first – Duncan's D
Duncan made a superb diving catch, fully extending to his left, to rob Jose Reyes of a sure double. No Mets reached base.

Cards second – Juan Ks
Encarnacion fanned in the middle of another 1-2-3.

Mets second – Almost two long ones
Carlos Delgado hit his 30th homer of the season down the right field line and up. It was Weaver's 27th home run surrendered this season. David Wright just missed another down the left field line on the very next pitch. Michael Tucker singled past a diving Miles with one out. Chris Woodward took strike three to end the inning. Mets 1-0.

Cards third – Nada
Perfect game through three for Maine.

Mets third – Harmless hit
Paul Lo Duca singled past Rolen with two out. Carlos Beltran grounded into a force out at second to end it.

Cards fourth – Albert again
After Miles singled to center, Duncan doubled into the right field corner. First base open but no out with Pujols up. Bad decision by the Mets to pitch to him as he hit the 0-1 offering out to right center. The 430 foot shot was his 37th home run of the season. Cards 3-1.

Mets fourth – RISP held off
Leading off, Delgado hit the ball sharply to Pujols, who couldn't handle it. Miles was behind him, but fumbled it, as he may have been screened. E4. Tucker walked with one out to put Delgado in scoring position. Woodward's comebacker to Weaver stopped the threat.

Cards fifth – Pujols' 400 foot salami
Belliard singled to left. Molina then doubled off the wall in left, but Belliard was tagged out at the plate on a great play by Lo Duca, as his hand just beat Belliard's. Country Joe West, covering the plate from first base, made a delayed, but correct call. Oquendo was too aggressive this time, with no out. Molina took third on the throw, but Weaver couldn't get him in. Miles and Duncan walked to bring in El Hombre. The 1-1 pitch was hit on a line drive out to left center. It was Pujols' fifth career grand slam, his 15th multi-homer game and seven RBI is his career best in a single game. Cards 7-1.

Mets fifth – Coming back with help
Hitting for Maine, pinch hitter Ricky Ledee walked. Not a good start. A passed ball put him on second. Duncan dropped a very, very catchable fly ball in front of Miles, allowing Reyes to reach. Lo Duca's single loaded the bases for Beltran. Duncan the defender came out to counsel Weaver. Beltran hit a comebacker that Weaver threw home underhanded to get the force. Delgado hit an almost-identical home run to his first, but this one was a grand slam. Cards 7-5.

Cards sixth – RISP chance missed
Encarnacion greeted new Met and new Mets pitcher Guillermo Mota with a single and promptly stole second. The guys following him did nothing.

Mets sixth – Big trouble for Adam
Adam Wainwright pitched as So Taguchi also entered the game in center and Wilson exited. Juan moved from center to right. Endy Chavez reached on an excuse-me single a few feet in front of the plate. The #8 hitter, Woodward, walked. Pinch-hitter Jose Valentin sacrificed the runners up. Belliard made a tremendous play on Reyes' ball up the middle, spinning and just nailing the speedster as the run scored. Cards 7-6.

Cards seventh – Not every time
Pedro Feliciano pitched. Miles walked with one out on a very close check swing with one out. Duncan walked, bring up you know who. Exit Feliciano and enter Chad Bradford. As Pujols is announced each time, the respectful boos get louder and louder. They turned to cheers as Pujols grounded into a double play.

Mets seventh – In order
Randy Flores came on. Duncan made another sliding catch in left center, making him two for three defensively.

Cards eighth – Another good chance
Encarnacion doubled deep to right center with one out. Former Met, pinch-hitter Timo Perez was booed as stepped in, only to be walked intentionally. The strategy worked as Belliard grounded into a 5-4-3.

Mets eighth – Loooooooooper
Tyler Johnson pitched with the lefty Tucker coming up. He was hit by the first pitch. Chavez bunted him over, even though it looked like Johnson had enough time to get the lead runner. Braden Looper came in to a chorus of boos like no other. The Mets fans don't seem to like their former closer. Woodward hit a nubber that put the runner at third with two out. The ageless one, Julio Franco, pinch hit. Out came Duncan the gloveless (the older one). Looper fanned Franco to escape the jam.

Cards ninth – All there is
Aaron Heilman was next to pitch for the Mets. Molina fanned as part of a 1-2-3 inning.

Mets ninth – Izzy time
Jason Isringhausen faced the top of the Mets' order. Lo Duca singled sharply to center with one out. So played it cautiously, letting it bounce. Edmonds would have caught that ball. Carlos Beltran homered on his first pitch, a line drive into the bullpen in right. The Mets took the lead back when it mattered most. Mets 8-7.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Wed., Aug. 23 at Mets: Mark Mulder (6-5, 6.09) vs. Steve Trachsel (12-5, 4.79) 6:10 p.m. FSNM
Thu., Aug. 24 at Mets: Jason Marquis (13-11, 5.70) vs. Dave Williams (2-3, 6.90) 6:10 p.m. FSNM
Fri., Aug. 25 vs. Cubs: Jeff Suppan (9-7, 5.03) vs. Juan Mateo (1-1, 3.79)

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

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