MLB Insiders - The Defense Does Rest

Shoddy defense and equally poor relief pitching added up to a 9-7 loss at Arizona on Sunday, giving the Cardinals a 33-41 record on the road and capping a 2-5 trip against two second-division clubs, Washington and Arizona.

The Cardinals, for the last couple of seasons, have prided themselves on being able to win no matter where they played. Emblematic of that was their 2005 season in which they had identical 50-31 records at home and on the road in their second consecutive 100-win campaign.

That season also brought a second straight National League Central championship and, while a third is in the offing this season, this clearly isn't as good a team. For instance, the Cardinals are assured of not even having a winning record on the road this season, and they have seven games away from Busch Stadium remaining.

Shoddy defense and equally poor relief pitching added up to a 9-7 loss at Arizona on Sunday, giving the Cardinals a 33-41 record on the road and capping a 2-5 trip against two second-division clubs, Washington and Arizona.

A botched rundown play, on which the Cardinals made two errors, and a pickoff play that resulted in two stolen bases, rather than a sure out, led to a four-run third inning against Jeff Suppan, who deserved better.

But Suppan, aided by homers from Albert Pujols and Scott Spiezio -- who also was one of the few who excelled in the field Sunday -- helped give Suppan a 7-4 lead entering the sixth. He was pulled in that inning but never got much of a shot at his 12th victory when Josh Kinney and Randy Flores couldn't hold off the Diamondbacks before they tied the score.

Then, well after manager Tony La Russa had been tossed for debating balls and strikes, pitching coach Dave Duncan, one of the coaches handling on-field duties, made the fateful call to the bullpen that summoned Jorge Sosa.

With the score tied 7-7, Sosa retired the first two men he faced in the eighth but was allowed to remain in to pitch to switch hitting pinch hitter Tony Clark, who had been 6-for-7 with four homers and eight RBIs against Sosa.

Make that 7-for-8 with five homers. Clark hit Sosa's first pitch for the game-winning homer, and Eric Byrnes clouted the next pitch for another homer and insurance.

REPLAY: The Cardinals, playing one of their worst fundamental games of the season, committed three errors -- two by Gold Glove third baseman Scott Rolen, who also struck out with two runners on base in the ninth -- in losing their third consecutive game to Arizona, 9-7.

Right-hander Jorge Sosa, who had given up 26 homers in only 108 2/3 innings with the Cardinals and Atlanta this season, tacked on two more on consecutive pitches in the eighth inning as Tony Clark and Eric Byrnes connected for home runs that capped Arizona's comeback from a 7-4 deficit.


--LF Chris Duncan, whose recent slump had sent his batting average down to almost .300, banged his 16th homer in the first inning Sunday.

--2B Scott Spiezio, starting at his third position on this seven-game trip, hit his fourth homer on the trip and also doubled in a run. Spiezio has started recent games at third base and left field.

--Regular 2B Ronnie Belliard, who gone hitless in all six previous games of the trip covering 19 at-bats, was given Sunday off, as was SS Aaron Miles, until the latter got a pinch single in the ninth.

--SS Jose Vizcaino made his first start in more than two weeks and doubled and singled, driving in a run.

--CF Skip Schumaker gave Preston Wilson a day off. The rookie went hitless in four at-bats before singling in the ninth.

--The Cardinals' magic number still is 16 over both Cincinnati and Houston for clinching the National League Central title. The Reds don't play the Cardinals anymore, but the Astros have seven games remaining with the Cardinals, beginning with a three-game series Monday night in St. Louis.

BY THE NUMBERS: 84.7 -- Career percentage of saves converted by RHP Jason Isringhausen, even though he has blown 10 of 43 this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It might make some people happy." -- RHP Jason Isringhausen, on the possibility he won't be able to pitch anymore this season.


RHP Jason Isringhausen might be out for the season because of pain in his left hip. He was to be examined by Dr. George Paletta, the Cardinals' medical supervisor, when the team returned home from its road trip.

OF Juan Encarnacion didn't play Sept. 4-5 because of a sore left hip flexor muscle. He was back in the lineup Sept. 6.

CF Jim Edmonds left the game Aug. 15 with dizziness caused by post-concussion syndrome. He appeared several times as a defensive replacement and a pinch hitter before returning to the lineup Aug. 25. He has been out since Aug. 26 and isn't expected back anytime soon.

SS David Eckstein went on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 19 because of a strained left oblique muscle.

LHP Mark Mulder, who had been out since June 21 with a left shoulder strain, was activated from the disabled list on Aug. 23. He was hit hard in starts Aug. 23 and Aug. 29, and went back on the DL on Aug. 31. He was scheduled to undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder and is out for the season.

OF Larry Bigbie went on the disabled list June 6 with a hernia, and he had surgery on June 8. He started a rehab assignment July 12, but he was shut down July 22 after suffering abdominal pain. He resumed his rehab Aug. 2 with Double-A Springfield, then was shut down again in mid-August because of abdominal discomfort.

LHP Ricardo Rincon went on the disabled list retroactive to April 19 with a left shoulder injury. He underwent surgery to repair rotator cuff and impingement problems and will miss the remainder of the season.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories