Game Observations – Wed. 9/06 – Nats 7-6

The St. Louis Cardinals came back twice from deficits Wednesday afternoon but still lost by a 7-6 score to the Washington Nationals. The Cards also dropped the road series two games to one. Preston Wilson's dramatic two-run homer in the ninth was for naught as Jason Isringhausen blew his NL-leading tenth save. The 74-64 Cards' lead over the Reds in the NL Central Division race remains six games.

Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter cruised into the sixth inning, throwing a four-hit one-run gem to that point. To make matters more promising, Scott Spiezio had just given him a two-run lead, yet Carp uncharacteristically fell apart. A walk and five singles turned the tables to give the Nats a two-run cushion.

Scott Spiezio singled and hit a three-run home run and Yadier Molina added a solo shot. Albert Pujols added a pair of singles and stole a base. Former National Preston Wilson's two-run line-drive, upper deck blast off Chad Cordero in the ninth looked to be the game-winner. All Jason Isringhausen had to do is get three outs for his 34th save, but he managed to give up two runs before getting even two outs. It was his tenth blown save of the season.

One year ago today
On September 6, 2005, soft-tossing lefty Glendon Rusch tossed a no-hitter for the first six innings on the way to the Cards' 5-2 loss to the Cubs at Busch. David Eckstein broke up the perfect game by leading off the seventh with a single. Eckstein finished with two of the Cards' six hits and John Gall and Abraham Nunez each drove in a run. Matt Morris took his seventh loss.

The match-up
Chris Carpenter (12-6, 2.87) vs. soft-tossing lefty Mike O'Connor (3-7, 5.12), who was just called up from the minors.

The line-up
Wilson (LF), Taguchi (CF), Pujols, Encarnacion, Spiezio (3B), Belliard, Molina, Miles and Carpenter.
Out: Chris Duncan, Scott Rolen.
In: Juan Encarnacion, Scott Spiezio.
Preston Wilson was the third leadoff man in as many days. Juan Encarnacion returned from a hip injury. Scott Rolen took a day off.

On to the game…

Cards first – RISP
So Taguchi walked leading off and stole second base without a throw, his second swipe in two days. It began to rain as Juan Encarnacion failed to convert.

Nats first – Out on top
Alfonso Soriano reached on a ball that Scott Spiezio couldn't handle. It was scored an error, though it could have been a hit. Felipe Lopez singled to left. Nick Johnson's double to right plated Soriano. Jose Vidro hit a ball deep to center, but a twisting So Taguchi pulled it down on the warning track. Nats 1-0.

Cards second – Twin killing
Spiezio singled but was erased on a double play off the bat of Belliard. The rain pretty much quit.

Nats second – Lotsa action, but no more runs
Robert Fick just about took Carpenter's head off on a leadoff single. On a Logan grounder, Miles caught a throw from Belliard but dropped the ball on the exchange as Fick slid in. Yet, Fick was called safe, despite arguments from Carpenter and La Russa. Miles took the error. Thing balanced out a bit. On a failed bunt, Fick was nailed at third as Miles took the throw from Molina. Spiezio made a nice diving catch and throw to second to get the third out.

Cards third – No bat control for Preston
Wilson threw hit bat at ball four to make the third out of a 1-2-3 inning.

Nats third – Harmless single
Nick Johnson singled to left with two out, but Ryan Church was jammed and grounded out.

Cards fourth – Albert tries small ball
Pujols singled with one out and swiped second base with two out. But, Spiezio popped out to end it.

Nats fourth – Two Ks
Carpenter fanned Jose Vidro leading off and Nook Logan on a curve ball to end the inning.

Cards fifth – Top of the order next inning
Miles bunted between O'Connor and first base for a two-out infield single. Carp lined out, though.

Nats fifth – A baserunner
After going 0-2, Lopez walked on a borderline 3-2 pitch with two out. It was Carpenter's first walk of the day. Lopez was stranded.

Cards sixth – Spiezio gets Carp his lead
Rookie Chris Booker took over on the mound and allowed a leadoff single to Wilson. With the lefty out of the game, Chris Duncan hit for Taguchi. He just missed a home run foul to right. A wild pitch put Wilson on second base. Duncan drew a free pass, which ended Booker's day in favor of Chris Schroder. His reward was to face Pujols, who popped up for the first out. Encarnacion also popped out for the second. Just when it looked like Schroder would escape from the two-on, no out jam, Spiezio shot a home run high off the foul pole in right. I would say it quieted the crowd, but the ballpark is mostly empty, anyway.Cards 3-1.

Nats sixth – Carp falls apart
Johnson drew a leadoff walk, always a danger sign. Ryan Church hit a one-hopper off Carpenter's glove. The ball deflected out past shortstop to put runners on the corners. It was the fifth hit allowed by Carp on the day. Vidro singled home the runner. Fick singled up the middle to load the bases with no out. After Logan fanned, pinch-hitter Brian Schneider singled to center to tie the game. Soriano shot the next pitch to center to score two more. Tyler Johnson came on to pitch and fanned Lopez on a bouncer. La Russa called on Josh Hancock to get the final out. Zimmerman legged out a shot to Spiezio to re-load the bases. Johnson escaped by fanning Johnson swinging, on three pitches for the third out. Nats 5-3.

Cards seventh – One back
Jon Rauch pitched and Molina hit his sixth home run of the season into the bullpen in left. Josh Kinney and Randy Flores warmed up. Mike Rose hit for the pitcher, but fanned swinging. Nats 5-4.

Nats seventh – Kinney shoos Nats
Josh Kinney walked Ryan Church leading off. Throw some strikes! Belliard bailed him out by tagging Church and throwing out Vidro at first for a double play.

Cards eighth – Great chance missed
Saul Rivera pitched with the top of the order up. Duncan fanned on a low outside breaking ball. Pujols singled past a diving Zimmerman but was almost tagged out making his customary wide turn past first. Encarnacion and Spiezio walked to load the bases to send up Ron Belliard, 0-for-9 in this series. Lopez made a twisting, diving catch in short left. Had Pujols tagged, he would have scored. Molina flied out to left for the third out on the first pitch. No patience at all.

Nats eighth – Wheels spin
Randy Flores took over on the mound. After two outs and with Soriano coming up, La Russa went with his sixth pitcher, Braden Looper. He got his man.

Cards ninth – Preston power!
Closer Chad Cordero was asked to get the final three outs. John Rodriguez pinch hit with one out and singled sharply past the pitcher. Preston Wilson slammed his 14th home run of the season high into the upper deck of RFK. Cards 6-5.

Nats ninth –Izzy blows another
Jason Isringhausen has his turn to get the save. As is too often the custom, he walked the leadoff man, Lopez. Lopez stole second with one out, as Molina's throw was high. Johnson was hit by a pitch that would otherwise have been a wild pitch that would have put Lopez at third. Izzy is working very, very deliberately. Ryan Church walked to load the bases with one out. Duncan the defenseless came out to take with Izzy, who had removed his cap in frustration. Vidro doubled into the right field corner to end the game. Nats 7-6.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
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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