Game Observations – Sun. 9/10 – D'backs 9-7

St. Louis lost the game and the series to the Diamondbacks at Chase Field Sunday. The game was 9-7 and the series was three games to one in favor of the home team. The Cardinals defense and bullpen were the culprits, as the fielders enabled four unearned runs and the pen allowed the other five. The 75-67 Cards' lead over the second-place Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central race is 4-1/2 games.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jeff Suppan hung in there despite four unearned runs scoring in the third as the Cardinals defense had a horrendous inning, committing two of their three errors that frame and botching several other plays. Soup ended up pitching 5-1/3 innings, allowing no earned runs on six hits and a walk. Tyler Johnson did a nice job getting Soup and the Cards out of a jam in the sixth.

Unfortunately, Johnson was the only effective reliever, as Josh Kinney, Randy Flores and Jorge Sosa allowed five runs among them. Especially damaging was the two home runs Sosa served up in the eighth that cost his team the game. Sosa has surrendered eight long balls in his 22 innings as a Cardinal.

The offense came back from a three-run deficit and scored enough to win had the rest of the game been adequate. But, the hitters had their ups and downs, too. Albert Pujols had two singles and a two run home run, but as the potential winning run, he was retired in the ninth. Scott Spiezio doubled, homered and drove in two, but struck out to end the game, also representing the go-ahead run.

One year ago today
On September 10, 2005, the Cardinals won their 91st game against just 52 losses as they doubled up the Mets by a 4-2 score at Busch. Jeff Suppan picked up win #14 and added his first career home run. Jim Edmonds belted a two-run home run in the second inning that accounted for the game-winning run. Albert Pujols and Larry Walker each had a pair of hits.

The match-up
Jeff Suppan (11-7, 4.39) vs. Enrique Gonzalez (3-7, 5.64).

The line-up
Schumaker (CF), Duncan (LF), Pujols, Rolen, Spiezio (2B), Encarnacion (RF), Vizcaino, Molina and Suppan.
Out: Aaron Miles, Preston Wilson, Ron Belliard, So Taguchi, Gary Bennett.
In: Skip Schumaker, Scott Spiezio, Juan Encarnacion, Jose Vizcaino, Yadier Molina.
Wholesale lineup changes as Skip Schumaker starts his first game since being recalled. Adam Wainwright was unavailable due to the birth of a baby daughter.

On to the game…

Cards first – Duncan gets them on top
After Skip Schumaker fanned, Chris Duncan homered to right. It was his 16th of the season. Pujols reached on an infield hit, but that was it. Cards 1-0.

D'backs first – Big fly
Schumaker hauled down Luis Gonzalez' drive to deep right center, just in front of the 413 feet sign.

Cards second – K'd
Spiezio was called out looking for the first out of a 1-2-3 inning.

D'backs second – Variety pack
A fly out, ground out and a liner made for an in-order inning.

Cards third – Walk to the pitcher
Suppan walked with one out. Schumaker forced him out at second base and Duncan was retired to end the inning.

D'backs third – D falls apart, so Suppan has to get five outs
Carlos Quentin walked leading off. Stephen Drew doubled into the left field corner to put two in scoring position. After a ground out, Rolen fired home on a ground ball, to get Quentin. But, during the rundown, Molina threw to Rolen to tag Drew out at third, but the ball got away. Then Vizcaino's throw home hit Quentin in the back and everyone was safe. Rolen and Vizcaino took errors on the play. On a pickoff of Byrnes that looked to be successful, instead Pujols threw wildly to second, then Vizcaino tried to go home and threw wildly there, so both runners were credited with a stolen base and no errors were assigned. Encarnacion double-clutched on a single by Hudson. The extra time allowed Byrnes to score. Gonzalez singled past Pujols to put runners on the corners. After a Duncan visit to the mound, Johnny Estrada singled to right to score another. A 6-4-3 double play finally ended it. None of the four runs were earned. D'backs 4-1.

Cards fourth – La Russa tossed, team closes gap
Pujols led off with a single between third and short. With Rolen up, La Russa came out to argue balls and strikes with the home plate ump Fieldin Culbreath, then with the crew chief, Tim McClelland. An ejection for La Russa was the bottom line. Byrnes hauled down Rolen's shot right up against the wall in left-center. Spiezio scored Pujols from first on a double into the left field corner. Vizcaino singled Spiezio in. D'backs 4-3.

D'backs fourth – Soup settles
Chad Tracy singled to right leading off, but that was it.

Cards fifth – Back on top
Soup was walked again. Schumaker moved the runner up. Duncan fanned. Pujols hit a line drive into the upper deck, just inside the left field foul pole. The two-run homer was his 45th of the year. Cards 5-4.

D'backs fifth – Look out!
Hudson's broken bat almost hit Suppan, but he threw the runner out to end the inning.

Cards sixth – Spiezio again
Reliever Tony Pena was rudely greeted by Scott Spiezio, who bounced his first pitch off the swimming pool deck for his third home run of the series. Drew made an error, allowing Encarnacion to reach. Vizcaino doubled into the right field corner to put two in scoring position. Suppan executed a squeeze and brought the run home, though he could have been called out on interference. Cards 7-4.

D'backs sixth – Soup shelved
Gonzalez doubled into the right field corner leading off. Soup fanned Estrada on an inside pitch for the first out. Rolen committed a fielding error on Conor Jackson's hopper, putting runners on the corners with one out. Suppan was given the quick exit and plopped down on the bench for a chat with first base coach Dave McKay. Tyler Johnson induced Chad Tracy to pop up into foul territory down the right field line. As Pujols slipped and fell, Spiezio made a nice catch and throw home to hold Gonzo at third. Johnson also retired Quentin on a liner to short. Nice job for Johnson.

Cards seventh – Cruzing
Juan Cruz was the new pitcher. Duncan fanned again. So did Pujols and Rolen, all three swinging.

D'backs seventh – Pen lets Cards down
After Johnson collected the first out, his third in a row, he departed in favor of Josh Kinney. Byrnes singled to left with two out; then Hudson walked. With Gonzalez stepping in, Randy Flores was asked to get him out. Didn't happen as he stroked an RBI single up the middle. Estrada dropped a 3-2 pitch just inside the right field line for a two-run double. Jackson took an intentional walk as Josh Hancock warmed up. Flores retired Quentin for the third out. Tie 7-7.

Cards eighth – Good V over Bad V
New pitcher Luis Vizcaino fanned Spiezio and Encarnacion. They were the eighth and ninth Cards whiffs on the day. Jose Vizcaino reached against Luis Vizcaino as Jackson made a fielding error at first. Molina reached on a fielding error against Drew as Jose V took third. It was called a single, though. Didn't matter as John Rodriguez grounded out on the first pitch he saw. He was hitting for Flores.

D'backs eighth – Roof caves in
After two ground outs, Jorge Sosa served up back-to-back home runs to Tony Clark and Eric Byrnes. Hudson walked again and Gonzo singled again. That was all for Sosa. Josh Hancock got the final out. Sosa has now allowed 28 home runs this season, including eight in just 22 innings as a Cardinal. D'backs 9-7.

Cards ninth – Still had a chance
Schumaker worked a leadoff walk against closer Jose Valverde. Aaron Miles hit for So Taguchi and singled. Pujols fouled out to Byrnes in the left field corner. A few more feet in the other direction and it could have been a game-winner. Rolen and Spiezio fanned to end the game. Valverde clenched his fists and screamed ala Jose Lima as the discouraged Cards trudged into the clubhouse.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Mon. Sept. 11 vs. Astros: Chris Carpenter (13-6, 2.97) vs. Andy Pettitte (13-13, 4.34) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Tue., Sept. 12 vs. Astros: Jeff Weaver (3-4, 5.19) vs. TBA 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Wed., Sept. 13 vs. Astros: Anthony Reyes (5-7, 5.03) vs. Roy Oswalt (12-8, 3.15) 1:10 p.m. FSNM
Thu., Sept. 14: Off day

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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