Game Observations – Fri. 9/15 – Cards 14-4

Scott Rolen had a career-high seven RBI, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a 14-4 win in the home series opener against the San Francisco Giants Friday night. Chris Duncan joined Rolen with two home runs. Jeff Suppan allowed three runs over seven innings. The 78-68 Cards' lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division is 5-1/2 games.

The Cardinals offense carried the night, with a season-high in runs scored. Scott Rolen doubled and hit two home runs for a career-best seven RBI performance. Chris Duncan went deep twice himself, walked, scored three and drove in four. Albert Pujols scored twice and drove in two.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jeff Suppan pitched credibly, going seven innings. He allowed eight hits, walked no one and struck out six.

One year ago today
On September 15, 2005, Jeff Suppan worked eight solid innings to improve to 15-10 and the Cards used a three-run first inning to get things started right in their 6-1 rain-shortened win over the Cubs at Wrigley. Larry Walker and John Rodriguez each had a pair of RBI and Albert Pujols collected two hits and two runs. With the victory, the Cards assured themselves a share of the NL Central title. Their record was 94-54, 40 games over .500, with a 15-game lead.

The match-up
Jeff Suppan (11-7, 4.25) vs. emergency starter Brad Hennessey (5-4, 3.72). The Cards caught a break as original starter Jason Schmidt (11-8, 3.45) was scratched prior to the game.

The line-up
Miles, Duncan (RF), Pujols, Spiezio (LF), Rolen, Encarnacion (CF), Belliard, Molina and Suppan.
In: Yadier Molina.
Out: Gary Bennett.
I can hardly remember when the first seven were the same from day to day and playing the same positions. Only a change of batteries from Wednesday's line-up that only scored one run against Roy Oswalt.

On to the game…

Giants first – Two out singles trio
Shea Hillenbrand singled with two out. Barry Bonds singled to right center to put runners on the corners. Ray Durham singled to the left of Belliard to score the first run. Duncan made a nice throw that may have beaten Bonds to third, but he was called safe. Didn't matter as the next hitter was thrown out by Miles. Giants 1-0.

Cards first – Rolen answers
Chris Duncan blasted a his 17th home run of the season over the bullpen in right on a 3-2 count. Pujols walked. Spiezio singled to right on a 3-2 count to put runners at the corners. Scott Rolen snapped his slump with a three-run shot into the left field bullpen. Encarnacion was hit on the hand with a pitch, but was thrown out trying to steal second base. Cards 4-1.

Giants second – Two Ks in Suppan
Suppan fanned Feliz to start the inning and Hennessey to end it.

Cards second – Twice in two innings for Duncan
Miles singled to center before Duncan hit another no-doubt-about-it home run to nearly the same spot in right center. Even stoic Dave Duncan clapped his hands in joy. The weak-kneed Bonds ran down a Pujols liner in left center for the third out. Cards 6-1.

Giants third – Cruising
Miles made a very nice spinning play to rob his opposite number, Omar Vizquel. Hillenbrand fanned swinging to end the inning, Suppan's fourth strikeout in three innings.

Cards third – New hurler with new results
A 1-2-3 inning came too late for Hennessey, as Jamey Wright had taken over on the mound.

Giants fourth – Rolling along
Bonds popped up for the first out. The third out made it ten in a row retired by Suppan.

Cards fourth – Soup walks
After the two ahead of him fanned, Suppan coaxed a walk from Wright.

Giants fifth – Leadoff double scores
Pedro Feliz doubled off the wall in right leading off. Miles made a nifty leaping play to retire Wright for the second out, but Randy Winn drove in the run on a single to right. Duncan made a strong throw home. Vizquel doubled to center to put two in scoring position, but Hillenbrand flied out. Cards 6-2.

Cards fifth – 2-3-4, 1-2-3
Duncan, Pujols and Spiezio were set down in order.

Giants sixth – Back on track
Moises Alou struck out swinging to end a quick inning for Suppan.

Cards sixth – Rolen on fire
Scott Rolen hit a leadoff home run to left, joining Duncan with a multi-home run game. Belliard singled past Vizquel for a one-out single. Molina was hit by a pitch up on the left shoulder. Alou removed Wright without him throwing another pitch. A classy move, in my opinion, with Suppan coming up. Scott Munter pitched. Soup sacrificed the runners up with a nice bunt. Miles walked to load the bases. Duncan earned an RBI via another walk. Pujols' single to right center brought home two more. Billy Sadler pitched next, making his MLB debut. Spiezio walked to load the bases for the third time in the inning. Rolen cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in right. Seven RBI so far for him. Cards 13-2.

Giants seventh – Solo shot
Feliz blasted a shot into the third deck in left leading off. Pujols took a fielding error on a grounder by pinch-hitter Todd Linden. Tomas De La Rosa singled to short with two down. But, that was all. Cards 13-3.

Cards seventh – Rocket out of fuel
Suppan's night ended as John Rodriguez hit for him with two down. J-Rod fanned.

Giants eighth – Garbage time
Randy Flores took over as a boatload of reserves came into the game with him. Kevin Frandsen homered to right center with one out. Todd Greene walked. New third baseman Scott Spiezio made a fielding error with two out. That brought Brad Thompson in to pitch. He got his man on a good scoop by Duncan at first. Cards 13-4.

Cards eighth – Tacking on another
So Taguchi doubled and scored on Spiezio's single to right. He took second as the throw went off So's rear end. Hungo must be getting tired, as he announced that "Billy Wagner is returning to Houston tonight." Unfortunately, Wagner no longer pitches for the Phillies, the team playing the Astros. Cards 14-4.

Giants ninth – Brad nails it down
Thompson stayed on to get the final three outs.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Sat., Sept. 16 vs. SF: Chris Carpenter (14-6, 2.84) vs. Matt Morris (10-13, 4.71) 3:05 p.m. WB11
Sun., Sept. 17 vs. SF: Jeff Weaver (6-14, 5.95) vs. lefty Jonathan Sanchez (3-0, 2.40) 1:15 p.m. WB11

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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