Game Observations – Sat. 9/16 – Cards 6-1

Chris Carpenter led the St. Louis Cardinals to a 6-1 win Saturday afternoon to clinch the home series against the San Francisco Giants. Juan Encarnacion had a three-run home run to lead the offense. The 79-68 Cards' lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division is 6-1/2 games.

Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter earned his 15th win of the season and the 100th of his career as he struck out nine Giants in seven-plus innings. Carp allowed one run on five hits and two walks. Adam Wainwright, Tyler Johnson and Braden Looper finished up the final two innings.

The Cardinals hitters had another good showing, as six of their nine hits went for extra bases. Albert Pujols had three singles and a double, scoring three times. Aaron Miles had two triples, scoring once. Scott Rolen had his second solid game in a row, with a pair of doubles, driving in two. Juan Encarnacion had the biggest blow, a three-run home run.

One year ago today
On September 16, 2005, at Wrigley, the Cardinals blew a 3-1 lead and handed the Cubs a 5-3 victory. That assured the Cubs the advantage in the season series with St. Louis. Matt Morris lost his career-high fourth straight game. Jim Edmonds hit a home run in the first inning. The Cardinals stranded the bases loaded in the second and managed just one hit after the fourth inning.

The match-up
Chris Carpenter (14-6, 2.84) vs. former Cardinal Matt Morris (10-13, 4.71).

The line-up
Miles, Duncan (RF), Pujols, Spiezio (LF), Rolen, Encarnacion (CF), Belliard, Molina and Carpenter.
In: none.
Out: none.
A superstitious sort like many in the game, it was very predictable that Tony La Russa would send out the same starting eight that scored 14 runs on Friday night.

On to the game…

Giants first – Two on
Omar Vizquel doubled to left field. Miles made a nice stop to his left and throw for the second out, as Vizquel mistakenly returned to second base. With first base open, Barry Bonds walked. Carp K'ed Ray Durham looking for the third out.

Cards first –Juan por tres
Aaron Miles shot a ball over the first baseman's head and into the right field corner for a leadoff triple. Chris Duncan just missed a home run a few yards to the right of the right field foul pole before he took strike three looking. Not getting the run home from third and fanning in three pitches has to be considered a failed at-bat. Fortunately, there is that guy behind him in the order. Albert Pujols singled between third and short to score the run. Pedro Feliz at third should have been able to get to the ball and retire Pujols, but he didn't and he didn't. Scott Spiezio walked. Vizquel made a barehanded catch and throw to just nab Scott Rolen as the runners moved up. Juan Encarnacion put a full count offering into the back of the bullpen in left for a three-run home run. Cards 4-0.

Giants second – Two RISP
Bad start. Carp walked Moises Alou, then Pedro Feliz singled through the left side. Elizer Alfonso struck out swinging in three pitches. After a standing ovation, Morris laid down a perfect bunt on the first offering. The sacrifice put two runners in scoring position, but neither scored.

Cards second – Look out!
Miles collided with Morris at first base as the third out was recorded. Neither player seemed to be hurt.

Giants third – Shifty
Encarnacion made a good running catch for the first out. The shift on Bonds worked as Belliard, in short right, scooped up the grounder and threw the slugger out to end the frame.

Cards third – Bases loaded
Pujols singled to center with one out. Spiezio was hit by a pitch for the second straight game. Rolen was robbed for a second time on a grounder to Feliz. Encarnacion was given an intentional walk to load the bases. Belliard flied out to center.

Giants fourth – In the K zone
Durham fanned swinging leading off for Carp's fourth strikeout of the day. Feliz was number five to end the inning.

Cards fourth – Triple wasted
With two out, Miles collected his second triple of the day as his ball scooted past Steve Finley in left center and rolled to the wall. He was stranded as Duncan grounded out to first.

Giants fifth – Another RISP stranded
Morris doubled with one out. But, Finley and Vizquel both fanned.

Cards fifth – Another Rolen RBI
Leading off, Pujols collected his third single of the day, this one to left center. Morris balked him to second with one down. Rolen doubled into the right field corner to chase Pujols home. Two quick strikeouts ended the threat. Cards 5-0.

Giants sixth – Down in order
Carp collected another strikeout on the way.

Cards sixth – 1-2-3
Morris retired his three batters in order for the first time since the second inning.

Giants seventh – In control
Carp fanned Alfonzo for the third out and his ninth K of the game. Carp is at 103 pitches.

Cards seventh – New pitcher, similar result
Kevin Correia came on in relief of Morris. Pujols doubled off the top of the wall in center. Rolen hit a one hopper into the bullpen in the right to collect another RBI. Cards 6-0.

Giants eighth – Juan loses ball, Carp loses shutout
Leading off, pinch hitter Todd Linden received a gift triple as Encarnacion never saw the ball off the bat. Defensive replacement Skip Schumaker streaked over to pick it up to avert the inside-the-parker. A Finley single to right broke up the shutout. As La Russa removed Carpenter, the pitcher departed to a standing ovation. Adam Wainwright came in and walked Steve Finley as Tyler Johnson heated it up in the pen. Wainwright induced Hillenbrand to hit into a 5-3 double play. La Russa brought in Johnson to face Bonds with a runner at third and he got his man. Cards 6-1.

Cards eighth – Kliner sighting
Former Cardinal Steve Kline took the mound and retired the three hitters he faced.

Giants ninth – Looper finishes
Behind Braden Looper, Rolen back-handed Alou's two-hopper and threw him out for the second out. Feliz popped up to end it. It was not a save situation.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Sun., Sept. 17 vs. SF: Jeff Weaver (6-14, 5.95) vs. lefty Jonathan Sanchez (3-0, 2.40) 1:15 p.m. WB11
Mon., Sept. 18 @ Milwaukee: Anthony Reyes (5-7, 5.03) vs. Chris Capuano (11-11, 3.66) 7:05 p.m. FSNM
Tue., Sept. 19 @ Milwaukee: Jason Marquis (14-15, 5.48) vs. Ben Sheets (5-6, 4.08) 7:05 p.m. FSNM
Wed., Sept. 20 @ Milwaukee: Jeff Suppan (12-7, 4.23) vs. TBA 7:05 p.m. WB11

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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