Game Observations – Thu. 8/24 – Mets 6-2

The St. Louis Cardinals fell for the third straight night, being swept in their midweek road series against the NL's best, the New York Mets, losing this time by a 6-2 score on Thursday at Shea Stadium. With the loss, Cincinnati, playing on the west coast, has a chance to again tie the 66-60 Cards in the NL Central Division race.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jason Marquis allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks over six innings. He did allow only one home run, which has to be considered improvement for him, but fired up 43 balls to go with 54 strikes.

The offense managed just seven hits, with Aaron Miles singling twice and scoring ahead of Gary Bennett's home run. The four through six spots were a combined 0-for-11 on the night.

How bad is it?
The Cards are carrying an 8-15 record on the month, with a decent chance to surpass their 9-16 June as the worst calendar stretch of play this season.

One year ago today
On August 24, 2005, Chris Carpenter won his tenth straight decision as the Cardinals defeated the Pirates 8-3 PNC Park. John Rodriguez paced the offense with a career-best three RBI. Carp went eight innings and picked up his 18th win of the season, allowing three runs on four hits. David Eckstein had three hits and two RBI and Albert Pujols hit his 34th home run of the season.

The match-up
Jason Marquis (13-11, 5.70) vs. Dave Williams (2-3, 6.90). Williams moved from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati for since-trade Sean Casey. After being released by the Reds, he hooked on with the Mets in Triple-A before getting the call back to the bigs.

The line-up
Belliard, Taguchi (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Encarnacion (CF), Wilson (RF), Miles (SS) and Marquis.
Out: Chris Duncan, Yadier Molina, Jose Vizcaino
In: So Taguchi, Gary Bennett, Aaron Miles
One more day until Jim Edmonds returns. David Eckstein is missing his fifth game.

On to the game…

Cards first – RISP missed
After a 30-minute delay, the game began. Belliard fanned and So shot a ball into the left fielder corner, hustling into second with a double. Pujols hit a high fly ball to left, which was caught just in front of the track. Rolen popped out behind first to end the threat.

Mets first – Turned back
Wearing his new high striped socks and bloused pants, new father Jason Marquis took the mound. Perhaps he liked the feel when the Negro League uniforms were used recently in Pittsburgh. Jose Reyes reached on a single to short center. Encarnacion made a headlong dive, but the ball skipped just a few inches in front of his glove. Lo Duca was hit by a pitch. Pujols started a nice 3-6-1 off the bat of Carlos Beltran to end it.

Cards second – Missers
Wilson fanned swinging for the second out as did Aaron Miles to finish the inning.

Mets second – Two innings, two DPs
David Wright shot a ball up the middle on Marquis' first offering of the inning. The newest Met, Shawn Green, received a standing ovation before blasting a line drive. However, it was right at Belliard, who tossed to Pujols to complete the double play. Jose Valentin walked but Endy Chavez forced him out at second base.

Cards third – Marquis hustling
Gary Bennett singled sharply up the middle. Marquis almost beat out his sac bunt for a hit, despite the infielders charging in. Second base was as far as Bennett reached, however.

Mets third – Lead taken
Marquis fanned Williams looking. Reyes singled to center and stole base #53 on the season. Lo Duca shot an RBI triple slicing away to right that was a tough play, but catchable. The ball hit off Wilson's glove and he made matters worse by slipping on the wet grass. Let's face it. It is totally unnatural for a catcher to get a triple. Beltran walked as did Delgado on four straight. David Wright blasted a ball to right that was caught on the track for a sac fly. Marquis is drawing the ire of home plate Ed Rapuano questioning balls and strikes. Green singled to left as So didn't play the ball aggressively. The third run scored in the process. Mets 3-0.

Cards fourth – Leadoff hit
Pujols singled over Reyes at short to lead off, but two outs later, he was forced at second base to end the inning.

Mets fourth – 1-2-3
Marquis retired the Mets in order, including Reyes to end it, which was nice to see after the three-run inning previously.

Cards fifth – Bennett muscles up
Miles singled to right leading off and scored on a home run into the Cards' bullpen in left. Belliard walked. Chavez ran down a line shot by Taguchi in left center for the second out. Pujols flied out to Chavez for the third out. In fact, the left fielder recorded all three put outs. Mets 3-2.

Mets fifth –Gave the two right back
Lo Duca legged out an infield single as Pujols came up the line to make the catch, but his swipe tag missed the runner. Belliard made a nice play to spin and nail the lead runner at second. Delgado put the first pitch he saw 450 feet away, deep into the Mets bullpen. Wright blasted another shot that Wilson ran down on the track. Green walked on a 3-2 count. Mets 5-2.

Cards sixth – 1-2-3
The Mets had to be delighted with what they got from Williams, including a perfect sixth.

Mets sixth – Him, too
Marquis matched Williams – for one inning, anyway.

Cards seventh – Great chance wasted
Miles singled to left leading off. With one out, Spiezio pinch hit for Marquis and lined a double into the right field corner. Miles stopped at third. Roberto Hernandez came on for Williams. Neither Belliard nor Taguchi could deliver the big hit. In fact, So fanned swinging.

Mets seventh – Tyler time
Tyler Johnson pitched. Delgado walked with two out, but that was all the action.

Cards eighth – Nice D
Wright made a diving stop and throw to nab Pujols for the first out. Two more quickly followed.

Mets eighth – Getting away from them
Valentin walked with one out, then Chavez singled. Duncan, the guy in the game (sort of) came out when a Johnson offering almost went over the head of pinch-hitter Julio Franco. He ended up being called out looking. Reyes singled to left to collect an RBI. Rolen took the cutoff and had a chance to get Chavez at third, but made an odd toss that Miles couldn't handle. Jorge Sosa took over for Johnson. Spiezio, now playing in left, made a ice cream cone catch for the third out. Mets 6-2.

Cards ninth – Down and out
With no save opportunity, Guillermo Mota pitched instead of closer Billy Wagner. Wilson whiffed as did Chris Duncan to end it.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Fri., Aug. 25 vs. Cubs: Jeff Suppan (9-7, 5.03) vs. Juan Mateo (1-1, 3.79) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Sat., Aug. 26 vs. Cubs: Chris Carpenter (12-6, 3.05) vs. Rich Hill (3-6, 6.44) 12:25 p.m. Big FOX
Sun., Aug. 27 vs. Cubs: Jeff Weaver (2-3, 5.74) vs. TBD 7:05pm ESPN
Mon., Aug 28: Off day

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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