Game Observations – Tue. 9/05 – Cards 2-0

The St. Louis Cardinals evened up their series against the Washington Nationals, winning 2-0 on Tuesday evening at RFK Stadium. Jeff Suppan pitched 7-2/3 shutout innings for his 11th win and Albert Pujols hit his 44th home run. The 74-63 Cards' lead over the Reds in the NL Central Division race remains six games.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jeff Suppan pitched masterfully until running into trouble in the eighth. Adam Wainwright escaped the jam to protect Suppan's scoreless outing. Soup allowed just five hits and two walks in 7-2/3 innings. He fanned five. Jason Isringhausen pitched another very shaky ninth, but prevailed for his 33rd save.

Albert Pujols again carried the Cardinals offense with his 44th home run of the season and fifth long ball in the last three days. Yadier Molina singled and doubled and collected the other RBI.

One year ago today
On September 5, 2005, a Pujols three-run home run unlocked a 2-2 game and propelled the Cards to a 6-4 win over the Cubs at Busch. Jim Edmonds followed Pujols' blast with one of his own for insurance. Ray King earned the win in relief of Jeff Suppan and Julian Tavarez recorded his fifth save.

The match-up
Jeff Suppan (10-7, 4.61) vs. Pedro Astacio (3-4, 6.12).

The line-up
Taguchi (CF), Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Wilson (RF), Belliard, Miles, Molina and Suppan.
Out: John Rodriguez, Gary Bennett
In: So Taguchi, Yadier Molina
Miles dropped down from the leadoff spot to seven with Wilson and Belliard each moving up one spot.

On to the game…

Cards first – Pujols' broad shoulders
With two out, Albert did it again. Pujols' 44th home run of the season and 116th RBI was a line drive to left that hit off the scoreboard. Cards 1-0.

Nats first – Duncan error
With one out, Chris Duncan committed a two-base fielding error on Felipe Lopez. But, Suppan elicited a ground out and a pop out to escape.

Cards second – Hardly news when Wilson Ks
Wilson was called out on strikes on the way to a 1-2-3 inning.

Nats second – Another 1-2-3
Austin Kearns struck out for the first out of an in-order inning for Suppan.

Cards third – Screwed up
Molina led off with a double. Suppan's sac bunt went awry as Molina was thrown out at third. With two down, Duncan fanned on a breaking ball and looked bad doing it.

Nats third – RISP stranded
#8 man Nook Logan singled and was sacrificed to second by Astacio. But, neither Alfonso Soriano nor Felipe Lopez could score the runner. Lopez fanned.

Cards fourth – Out quickly
Two ground outs and a fly out made for another quick inning for Astacio.

Nats fourth – Big threat
Austin Kearns singled with two out. Brian Schneider shot a ball into the left field corner, but it was hit so hard that it was only a single. The inning ended with the runners at the corners.

Cards fifth – Molina 2-for-2
Molina collected his second hit of the game on a jam shot to right center with two out. But, he was stranded.

Nats fifth – Mini threat
Logan fanned on what looked like ball four. Soriano singled to left with two out. Suppan made a nice play on Felipe Lopez for the third out.

Cards sixth – 1-2-3 go down 1-2-3
Kearns was busy, making the first two put-outs in right field before Pujols popped out.

Nats sixth – Albert's glove
Pujols saved an error against Miles as he made a nice scoop on the shortstop's off-line throw after Nick Johnson's grounder.

Cards seventh – Good start, bad finish
Rolen singled to left leading off. Wilson slapped a single of his own, also to left. Trying to bunt, Belliard was almost beaned on a curve. Belliard then swung away on a hit and run, but popped out to right. Miles reached on a spinning nubber that Ryan Zimmerman failed to handle, coming in from third. Bases loaded for Molina with one out. With Miles bearing down on him, second baseman Bernie Castro was unable to field what might have been a double play grounder. Everyone was safe as the run scored. Astacio was removed from the game in favor of Ryan Wagner. It worked well for Washington, as Suppan failed on a squeeze play and popped up into a double play. Cards 2-0.

Nats seventh – First walk
Rolen made a nice play coming in on Castro for the second out. Suppan walked his first batter of the night, Logan, with two out. Duncan the errorless came out to the mound. Robert Fick pinch hit and was retired to end the inning.

Cards eighth – Double play kills another rally
Taguchi singled leading off against Jon Rauch. Duncan fanned on another breaking ball. Why do opponents ever throw him a fastball? So stole second base, so the Nats walked Pujols. Rolen lined to short, but So couldn't dive back to second in time to avert the 6-4 twin killing.

Nats eighth – Two-out trouble
Lopez shot a ball to right, but Wilson had a good jump and made a running, stretching catch for the second out. It could have been a game-saver. Suppan walked Ryan Zimmerman. Johnson singled between first and second to end Suppan's night. Adam Wainwright was asked to get out Austin Kearns for the third out, but instead nicked him for a HBP to load the bases. Brian Schneider fanned swinging on a curve ball to end the huge threat.

Cards ninth – Last chance wasn't much
Saul Rivera pitched and retired the Cards in order.

Nats ninth – Izzy brings Halloween early
Jason Isringhausen came on to pitch. It took seven pitches to fan Bernie Castro on a pitch that looked very low. A break for Izzy and the Cards. Ryan Church walked with two down and the oh-so dangerous Soriano on deck. He went full count before walking, too. Lopez fanned swinging on a pitch up and out of the zone to end the game.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Wed., Sept. 6 @ Nationals: Chris Carpenter (12-6, 2.87) vs. TBD 12:05 p.m. FSNM
Thu., Sept. 7 @ D'backs: Jeff Weaver (2-4, 5.34) vs. Miguel Batista (10-5, 4.34) 8:40 p.m. FSNM
Fri., Sept. 8 @ D'backs: Anthony Reyes (5-6, 4.31) vs. Livan Hernandez (10-12, 5.24) 8:40 p.m. FSNM
Sat., Sept. 9 @ D'backs: Jason Marquis (14-13, 5.73) vs. Brandon Webb (14-6, 3.14) 8:40 p.m. WB11
Sun., Sept. 10 @ D'backs: Jeff Suppan (11-7, 4.39) vs. Enrique Gonzalez (3-7, 5.64) 3:40 p.m. WB11

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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