Game Observations – Mon. 9/04 – Nats 4-1

The St. Louis Cardinals lost to the Washington Nationals 4-1 on Monday afternoon at RFK Stadium in the first game of their road trip. The Nats' Ramon Ortiz took the labor out of Labor Day as he carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning of the 2:10 contest. The 73-63 Cards' lead over the Reds in the NL Central Division race is 5-1/2 games.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jason Marquis was in trouble multiple times, but carried a shutout into the seventh. However, it fell apart there. He walked his first batter of the day, then served up a home run to Austin Kearns. It was Marquis' league-leading 32nd home run of the season.

Reliever Jorge Sosa allowed two more in the eighth, with help from Randy Flores. Sosa's homer allowed was his 26th of the season, a huge number for a reliever. It was also Sosa's six long ball allowed in 19-1/3 innings as a Cardinal. To make matters worse, the opposing pitcher, Ramon Ortiz, was the one who hit the ball out.

The Cardinals offense managed three walks off Ortiz early, but did not get a hit until Aaron Miles' clean single in the ninth. Two batters later, Albert Pujols hit a mammoth upper deck home run to spoil the shutout.

One year ago today
On September 4, 2005, Jason Marquis fashioned his second straight complete game win and the Cardinals closed a 13-game road trip with a 4-1 win at Houston. Jim Edmonds and Yadier Molina both contributed two RBI and Abraham Nunez had a team-high three hits as the Cardinals improved to 11-3 on the season against the Astros.

The match-up
Jason Marquis (14-12, 5.86) vs. Ramon Ortiz (9-12, 5.34)

The line-up
Miles (SS), Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Rodriguez (RF), Wilson (CF), Belliard, Bennett and Marquis.
In: John Rodriguez, Gary Bennett
Out: Juan Encarnacion, Yadier Molina

On to the game…

Cards first – In order
Three up and three down.

Nats first – Them, too
The home team started with three outs.

Cards second – Two stranded
John Rodriguez became the first baserunner via a walk with one out. Ron Belliard also walked with two out, but Bennett followed with a fly out.

Nats second – Up the middle
Belliard and Miles each made good defensive plays to continue the string of consecutive outs at six.

Cards third – Quiet
Marquis fanned on the way to a 1-2-3 inning.

Nats third – Third base and no out
Bernie Castro led off with a double and took third on a Marquis balk. After an infield grounder, Marquis fanned both Ortiz and the dangerous Alfonso Soriano to escape.

Cards fourth – Another RISP
Pujols walked leading off. Rolen fanned swinging and two ground outs left Pujols at second.

Nats fourth – Stranded on third again
Felipe Lopez singled leading off and stole second base on a failed hit and run as Bennett's throw was high. A good one would have got the runner. He took third on the second out but remained there.

Cards fifth – No-no through five
Ortiz finished off the bottom three hitters in order.

Nats fifth – Out at the plate
Former Tiger Nook Logan doubled into the right center gap with two out. J-Rod got to the ball in a hurry, but made an off-line throw. Ortiz hit a chopper to the right of the mound. Belliard faked a throw to first, but instead alertly fired home to Bennett, who easily tagged out a sliding Logan at the plate.

Cards sixth – Nada
The second hitter, Duncan, hit a 400 foot fly ball out before Pujols was retired for the third consecutive time.

Nats sixth – Another jam ducked
Soriano reached via a leadoff double as the ball bounced off Pujols' glove as he ran with his back to the plate. J-Rod apparently couldn't get there in time, nor could Belliard. After a fly to left, Ryan Zimmerman lined out to short. Miles caught the ball and tossed it to Belliard to double up Soriano and end the threat.

Cards seventh – Still hitless
Continuing to make three outs without a hit. Austin Kearns made a solid running catch for the second out.

Nats seventh – Marquis allows another long ball
Nick Johnson led off with a four-pitch walk, Marquis' first of the day. The next pitch exited the park and hit off the back wall of the bullpen for a two-run home run by Kearns. It was Marquis' Nats 2-0.

Cards eighth – Three to go
Scott Spiezio pinch hit for Marquis and popped out for the 24th out.

Nats eighth – With the bat, too
Off Jorge Sosa, Ortiz homered into the bullpen in left for his first career long ball. Zimmerman doubled to left between Miles and Duncan. Randy Flores came in to face the lefty Johnson. His RBI double plated the fourth run. Nats 4-0.

Cards ninth – At least it wasn't a no-hitter
Aaron Miles cleanly singled to left center for the first Cardinals hit. He wasn't on the bases long as Nick Johnson turned a double play. Pujols then blasted his 43rd home run high and deep into the upper deck in left. Ortiz was pulled for closer Chad Cordero, who fanned Rolen to end the game. Nats 4-1.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Tue., Sept. 5 @ Nationals: Jeff Suppan (10-7, 4.61) vs. Pedro Astacio (3-4, 6.12) 6:05 p.m. FSNM
Wed., Sept. 6 @ Nationals: Chris Carpenter (12-6, 2.87) vs. TBD 12:05 p.m. FSNM

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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