Game Observations – Wed. 9/20 – Brewers 1-0

The St. Louis Cardinals lost their road series to the Milwaukee Brewers two games to one with a 1-0 defeat Wednesday evening at Miller Park. Jeff Suppan pitched seven shutout innings, but the offense managed just four hits. The 80-70 Cards' lead over the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central Division remains seven games as their magic number dropped to five.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jeff Suppan dodged trouble early but ended up allowing just six hits and a walk over seven shutout innings. Tyler Johnson took the loss when he served up a walk-off home run to Geoff Jenkins in the bottom of the ninth. The Cardinals batters were held to just three hits by Brewers rookie Carlos Villanueva through seven and got just one more the rest of the way.

One year ago today
On September 20, 2005, after scoring five two-out runs in the third inning, the Cardinals couldn't hold on, losing 6-5 to the Reds at Great American Ball Park. John Gall provided the big blow for the Cards with a three-run home run. Jeff Suppan was turned back in his attempt to match his 2004 win total of 16. Scott Seabol had a pair of hits off the bench.

The match-up
Jeff Suppan (12-7, 4.23) vs. Carlos Villanueva (1-1, 4.05).

The line-up
Miles, Duncan (LF), Pujols, Encarnacion (CF), Spiezio (3B), Wilson (RF), Belliard, Molina and Suppan.
In: Juan Encarnacion, Preston Wilson.
Out: So Taguchi, Scott Rolen.
Chris Duncan moves from right to left and Scott Spiezio from left to third.

On to the game…

Cards first – 1-2-3
Pujols grounded out hard third to first to end the inning.

Brewers first – Two on
Tony Graffanino singled to center with one out. Prince Fielder singled to right. A double play grounder became entertaining as the second base ump ruled the tag on Fielder was missed. A successful rundown with the big first baseman ensued.

Cards second – Good hit, bad result
Scott Spiezio stroked a one-out double, but was stranded.

Brewers second – Two more on
Jeff Cirillo singled before Aaron Miles erred on a throw, allowing David Bell to reach. But, Damian Miller and Villanueva were retired to end it.

Cards third – Merry-go-round
Molina was grazed by a pitch. On a Suppan grounder, Fielder fired to second in time to get the lead runner. Miles grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Brewers third – Second error
Tony Gwynn, Jr. singled to center on a 0-2 pitch and stole second as Graffanino fanned. Belliard erred as both the baseball and Fielder's broken bat came at him. Runners on the corners. Belliard then recovered to start a 4-6-3 to end it.

Cards fourth – Weird play
The errors are getting contagious as Fielder made a fielding error on Duncan. But, Pujols broke his bat, but David Bell still started a 5-4-3. Encarnacion walked and took second on a passed ball. Spiezio fanned swinging.

Brewers fourth – An inning of firsts
Finally, a quiet inning.

Cards fifth – Leadoff hit wasted
After just missing a home run to right, Preston Wilson singled leading off and took second on Belliard's ground out. Molina flied out to the track in center. Suppan took a called strike three.

Brewers fifth – On the corners
Leading off, Damian Miller doubled over Wilson's head with a one-hopper off the wall in right-center. Villanueva bunted the runner over. Gwynn fanned looking on a great inside pitch by Suppan. In an at-bat slightly reminiscent of his game-winning appearance Monday night, Graffanino worked Suppan for nine pitches before walking. But, Suppan retired the dangerous Fielder on a fly to left.

Cards sixth – Where's the offense?
Duncan singled sharply to right with one out. Villanueva sawed off Encarnacion on a comebacker to end the inning.

Brewers sixth – Best friend
Geoff Jenkins singled with one out. Another double play, the Cards' third of the night, again provided the final two outs. This one was off the bat of Cirillo.

Cards seventh – Two Ks
Spiezio and Belliard fanned looking to bookend another ugly frame.

Brewers seventh – Shutout intact
Three quick outs for Suppan.

Cards eighth – Can't get it going
Villanueva departed for Chris Spurling. John Rodriguez hit for Suppan and doubled to right with one out. Duncan lined out hard to first base to end another scoreless inning.

Brewers eighth – Defensive gems
Josh Hancock pitched. Gwynn reached on a bunt single back to Hancock. Spiezio changed and Belliard made a great turn to double up Graffanino. Fielder walked as the Cards were cautious to avoid the slugger. Tyler Johnson warmed up. Corey Hart singled to center and Johnson came in. With Jenkins taking a strike, Pujols slipped behind Hart and Molina fired a strike to pick off the rookie.

Cards ninth – Hope for extras
Closer Francisco Cordero was asked to hold the tie. He did his job, retiring Pujols, Encarnacion and Spiezio.

Brewers ninth – Another walk off
Geoff Jenkins returned to the plate and ended the game with a lead off line drive home run to right off Johnson. Brewers 1-0.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Thu., Sept. 21 @ Astros: Chris Carpenter (15-6, 2.79) vs. Andy Pettitte (13-13, 4.37) 7:05 p.m. FSNM
Fri., Sept. 22 @ Astros: Jason Marquis (14-15, 5.82) vs. Jason Hirsh (3-4, 5.59) 6:05 p.m.WB11/ESPN
Sat., Sept. 23 @ Astros: Anthony Reyes (5-7, 4.92) vs. Roy Oswalt (14-8, 3.05) 6:05 p.m. WB11
Sun., Sept. 24 @ Astros: Jeff Weaver (3-4, 5.48+) vs. TBA 7:05 p.m. ESPN

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

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