Game Observations – Sat. 9/02 – Pirates 1-0

The St. Louis Cardinals fell to the National League's losingest team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, by a 1-0 score on Saturday evening at Busch Stadium. The 72-62 Cards' lead over the Reds in the NL Central Division race is 4-1/2 games.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jeff Weaver pitched well, allowing just five hits and one walk in seven innings, but three of those runners reached in his final inning and the eventual winning run scored on a sacrifice fly.

Aaron Miles had a double and two singles, Ron Belliard singled twice and Albert Pujols walked twice and singled. But, the Cardinals' offense stranded eleven runners on the evening, while the hitters missed chances with 26 individual runners on base.

One year ago today – Some things are the same and some are different
On September 2, 2005, the Cardinals lost to Houston 6-5 in 13 innings after two come-from-behind efforts. Leading 3-2, Jason Isringhausen allowed a solo home in the ninth to Morgan Ensberg. After the Cardinals scored on a double and two sac bunts in the 10th, Isringhausen allowed another solo home run, this one to Brad Ausmus for the tie. Jim Edmonds gave the Cards the lead on his second home of the game, a solo shot in the 13th, but a trio of relievers allowed two in the bottom of the inning for the loss. Mark Mulder retired the last 16 batters he faced in his eight complete innings pitched.

The match-up
Jeff Weaver (2-3, 5.92) vs. Shawn Chacon (1-2, 7.88).

The line-up
Miles (SS), Duncan (RF), Pujols, Rolen, Spiezio (LF), Encarnacion (CF), Belliard, Molina and Weaver.

On to the game…

Pirates first – Big K
Pujols snared Chris Duffy's liner for the first out. Jose Bautista doubled into the left field corner. Clean up man Jason Bay swung and misses on three straight pitches to end the inning.

Cards first – Two RISP
Miles singled leading off. Pujols was pitched carefully to and was walked. Both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, but Spiezio lined out to first for the third out.

Pirates second – Uncharacteristic
Often having problems with left-handed hitters, Weaver fanned the lefty Ryan Doumit for the second out.

Cards second – Another good chance missed
Encarnacion singled on the first pitch of the inning. Belliard singled to left center and Encarnacion took third in front of the lackadaisical left fielder Bay. Molina popped out to short. Weaver got a bunt down and almost beat it out due to some confusion on the Pirates infield.

Pirates third – Coupla' runners
Jose Castillo singled leading off. Weaver had a good chance to nab the lead runner on a bunt by Chacon, but chose to throw to first. Duffy was hit by a pitch. A 6-4-3 ended the inning.

Cards third – Six stranded so far
Duncan walked leading off. So did Rolen with one out. But, neither Spiezio nor Encarnacion could get the runners around.

Pirates fourth – Weaving
Bay fanned again for the second out of a 1-2-3 inning.

Cards fourth – 7-8-9
Belliard fanned as the bottom three in the order went down.

Pirates fifth – Quick
Weaver retired his men in order.

Cards fifth – Two more on
Miles led off with a double. Duncan fanned. Pujols walked intentionally. Rolen flied out and Spiezio fanned on a foul tip.

Pirates sixth – Yadi's gun
Rajai Davis pinch-hit for Chacon and singled. He was erased when Duffy grounded into a fielders' choice. Duffy was thrown out for the first time trying to steal this season in his 15th attempt. Miles made a nice play to his left for the third out.

Cards sixth – DP
Against Matt Capps, Belliard legged out a one-out single, but Molina grounded into an inning-ended double play.

Pirates seventh – Bucs take lead
Freddy Sanchez singled leading off. Xavier Nady reached on an infield single to Rolen with one out. Next to get a free pass was .188-hitting Ryan Doumit. Duncan the defenseless came out to chat. A sac fly by Ronny Paulino scored the first run of the game. Encarnacion got a bad break, but Duncan made a nice running catch. Bucs 1-0.

Cards seventh – J-Rod ends Weaver's night
New-old Cardinal John Rodriguez tried to hit for Weaver but fanned swinging. Two more outs followed.

Pirates eighth – Waving the lead away
Pinch-hitter Joe Randa singled to left against Braden Looper The bored and clueless Cardinals fans began that quaint relic of the 1970's, the wave. A 5-4-3 double play was started by Rolen on a nice stop off the bat of Bautista.

Cards eighth – 11 runners stranded
Salomon Torres pitched. Pujols singled to center leading off. Rolen followed with a sharply hit single to left. Spiezio bunted the runners up. Encarnacion was walked intentionally to load the bases. Belliard fanned on three pitches. Preston Wilson pinch hit for Molina and fanned swinging. Yadi could have done that.

Pirates ninth – No more
Looper retired the side in order.

Cards ninth – Out of bullets
Miles reached on an infield single to third with one out. Duncan flied out to deep center and Pujols hit into a fielders choice to end the game.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Sun., Sept. 3 vs. Pirates: Anthony Reyes (4-6, 4.73) vs. Ian Snell (12-8, 4.70) 1:15 p.m. WB11
Mon., Sept. 4 @ Nationals: Jason Marquis (14-12, 5.86) vs. Tony Armas Jr (8-10, 5.28) 12:05 p.m. FSNM
Tue., Sept. 5 @ Nationals: Jeff Suppan (10-7, 4.61) vs. Ramon Ortiz (9-12, 5.34) 6:05 p.m. FSNM
Wed., Sept. 6 @ Nationals: Chris Carpenter (12-6, 2.96) vs. Pedro Astacio (3-4, 6.12) 12:05 p.m. FSNM

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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