Game Observations – Thu. 9/28 – Brewers 9-4

The St. Louis Cardinals lost for the eighth time in nine games Thursday night as they were blasted by the Milwaukee Brewers by a 9-4 score at Busch Stadium. Jason Marquis didn't get out of the third inning and Josh Hancock had a poor outing, too. The offense had just six hits. The 81-77 Cards lead over the Astros in the NL Central is now just a half game and their magic number remains four.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jason Marquis laid another egg, allowing six runs in two-plus innings. He yielded five hits, including his 36th home run of the season and three walks. Josh Hancock didn't help, letting two inherited runs in plus two more of his own.

The offense managed just six hits and despite being given nine walks, they did little when it mattered. Preston Wilson walked, singled and homered for three RBI. No other Cardinals batter had two safeties. Scott Rolen hit a solo home run.

One year ago today
On September 28, 2005, the Cardinals pounded out 17 hits and were helped by five errors in a 12-6 win over the Reds. Albert Pujols hit his 40th homer of the season and 200th career in style, a grand slam in the seventh inning, as he tied his career high with five RBI. Leadoff hitter David Eckstein went 4-for-5 and drove in two and Mark Grudzielanek was 3-for-5. Al Reyes picked up the win in relief.

The match-up
Jason Marquis (14-15, 5.80) vs. lefty Doug Davis (10-11, 5.02). Look out! The team is 17-23 against lefties coming in.

The line-up
Wilson (LF), Taguchi (CF), Pujols, Encarnacion (RF), Rolen, Belliard, Miles (SS), Bennett and Marquis.
In: So Taguchi, Juan Encarnacion. Out: Chris Duncan, Scott Spiezio. All the lefty hitters sit against the lefty Davis.

On to the game…

Brewers first – Gopheritis
Tony Graffanino walked with one out and took second on another throwing error by Miles on Prince Fielder's grounder. On a two-out, full-count offering, Bill Hall blasted a two-run home run to center. Marquis increased his MLB home run allowed lead to 36 in the process. Geoff Jenkins walked, but was stranded. Brewers 2-0.

Cards first – Two RISP wasted
Preston Wilson's stats at the "time of the trade" were shown on a graphic and Hungo repeated it. Exactly what trade was that, anyway? At any rate, Wilson walked leading off. Encarnacion also walked with two out. A double steal put both runners in scoring position as Wilson took off first as the later-breaking Encarnacion drew the throw. They were stranded.

Brewers second – More trouble
David Bell singled and scored from first as Mike Rivera's double split the outfielders in right center. Rivera came home on a single by Tony Gwynn, Jr. Duncan the answerless came out to chat with his prized pupil on the mound. Brewers 4-0.

Cards second – Three down
Two groundouts before Gary Bennett fanned.

Brewers third – Exit Marquis, Goodbye game
Hall led off with a single as the Busch fans again led off with booing. Jenkins walked at which point La Russa pulled Marquis. Josh Hancock was asked to get out of the mess, but just created more. Hall scored as Rolen tried to do a backhand ole' move on Corey Hart's ball. His double put two in scoring position. Another scored on David Bell's double into the left field corner. A sac fly brought in the seventh run. Run number eight came in as Pujols tossed underhand to Hancock trying to race Gwynn to first. Hancock seemed to underestimate Gwynn's speed and was a split second late. In their last broadcast of the season, Hungo actually said that at this point of the season if a pitcher was as emotionless as Marquis, he would not be on his team and went on to state that Marquis will not be returning to the Cardinals next season. Hardly a news flash, but Hungo's candor was as refreshing as it was surprising. Brewers 8-0.

Cards third – Shutout broken up
With one out, Preston Wilson homered into the Cards' bullpen. So walked. That was it. Brewers 8-1.

Brewers fourth – Bleeding to death slowly
Chris Narveson pitched. Hall walked, then Geoff Jenkins was hit by a pitch with one out. Hall scored when Hart singled to left. Jorge Sosa finished the inning. Brewers 9-1.

Cards fourth – Two on, none in
Encarnacion led off with a double to right for the second Cardinals hit. Belliard walked with one out. Both were stranded.

Brewers fifth – Needed this earlier
Sosa fanned Fielder to end a 1-2-3 inning.

Cards fifth – Three Ks and two walks
After a pair of strikeouts, Taguchi and Pujols walked. Then, Encarnacion fanned, too.

Brewers sixth – Two on
Leading off against Sosa, Hall doubled past a diving Rolen to reach base for the fourth time. David Bell walked with two down. They were stranded.

Cards sixth – Two on, too
The first hitter, Rolen walked. Belliard grounded out as the runner moved up. Bennett walked, bringing up Jim Edmonds to a brief, but loud ovation. No results.

Brewers seventh – Garbage time
Brad Thompson worked a 1-2-3 inning.

Cards seventh – Glove wars
Chris Spurling came on to pitch, but before he did, he was forced by the umpires to change his light tan colored glove. The new one was black. It worked fine as he mowed down the Cards top three hitters.

Brewers eighth – Brad bowling
Thompson scored his second perfect frame.

Cards eighth – Rolen homers
Rolen hit a Spurling offering over the left field bullpen. It was just the third hit for the Cards. Belliard reached on an infield single and moved up on Miles' bloop single to right. Scott Spiezio walked to load the bases. A pitching change to Brian Shouse for John Rodriguez. Wilson blasted a ball off the wall, scoring two, but Duncan fanned. Brewers 9-4.

Brewers ninth – Damage done hours ago
Josh Kinney collected three straight outs.

Cards ninth – Get it over with
Scott Rolen epitomized the game and week for the Cards by striking out to end it.

In conclusion
This game was over by the third inning. Jason Marquis was awful, but runs four through eight scored while Josh Hancock was pitching to put the game out of reach. The offense again looked like minor leaguers against an opposing left-handed pitcher.

Upcoming action – probable starters (times CDT)
Fri., Sept. 29 vs. Brewers: Jeff Weaver (4-4, 5.21) vs. Chris Capuano (11-11, 3.87) 7:10 p.m. FSNM
Sat., Sept. 30 vs. Brewers: Jeff Suppan (12-7, 4.18) vs. Ben Sheets (6-7, 4.05) 12:25 p.m. Big FOX
Sun., Oct. 1 vs. Brewers: Chris Carpenter (15-8, 3.09) vs. Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 3.97) 1:15 p.m. CW11
Regular season ends.

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

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