Against Detroit starter Nate Robertson, Jim Edmonds singled with one out in the second then Guillen presented the Cards with a gift as he fumbled Yadier Molina's sure double-play grounder. Granderson saved a run with a nice running catch in right center of Adam Kennedy's hard-hit ball and uncharacteristically David Eckstein feebly waved at strike three to end the threat.
Sean Casey hammered Reyes' first offering in the bottom of the second to the wall in center for the pitcher's second double yielded in two innings. More two-out trouble ensued as Granderson muscled a one-hopper the other way over the wall in left field. The ground rule double plated run #3.
Ordonez and Guillen each singled sharply with one out in the third. Ivan Rodriguez cracked the game wide open with a three-run home run to right after Reyes had buzzed him with a high and tight pitch.
The Cards got on the board in the fourth as Edmonds walked and came home on a double that Molina smoked to left center. Eckstein singled to put runners on the corners, but that was it.
The road team mounted their best threat in the fifth, loading the bases with no out, but managing only a single tally. Scott Spiezio led off with a double. That meant Albert Pujols came to the plate for the first time in the series so far with a runner on. He singled to reach base for the eighth straight plate appearance. Rolen walked to load the bases. After Encarnacion and Edmonds failed to even provide a sac fly, Molina came through again. With two out, his single scored Spiezio, but Pujols was thrown out at the plate by leftfielder Craig Monroe. Bad decision, as Monroe has a gun of an arm, having recorded 12 outfield assists last season.
Pujols and Reyes teamed up for a fine defensive play to end the home fifth as the first baseman wheeled to his right and threw to Reyes covering first. Guillen was retired to end the five-pitch inning as Reyes had to stretch to the max to pull down the throw and hold his toe on the bag while avoiding a collision with Guillen, who was steaming down the line.
Kennedy walked and Eckstein singled to lead off the sixth against new pitcher Wil Ledesma. A wild pitch put the runners in scoring position and the Cards' third run scored on So Taguchi's ground out. Spiezio's RBI single plated Eckstein to close the gap to 6-4. After a pitching change, Pujols fanned. Another wild pitch moved Spiezio up before Rolen walked. Representing the lead run, Encarnacion extended his night to 0-for-4 with a fly ball out.
The Tigers took one run right back. Encarnacion tried to make a diving catch on a sinking liner by Rodriguez leading off the home sixth, but it turned into another double for the catcher when the ball bounced off the right fielder's glove. The runner took third, but Pujols temporarily saved the run with a nice stop at first. Rodriguez then scored on Monroe's sac fly to center. Reyes hit Inge with a pitch, his last offering on the night. Randy Flores took over to get the final out. Reyes allowed seven runs in 5 2/3 innings on seven hits. He walked no one and struck out two as his ERA expanded to 5.84.
In the seventh, the Cards picked up another two-out score to bring the gap back to two runs. Eckstein shot a cue ball down the right field line to score Kennedy, who had doubled. Taguchi hit an almost-identical ball to put runners at the corners, but was thrown out trying to steal second base to end the rally. Ouch!
Reliever Todd Wellemeyer made his Cardinals debut in the seventh. Gary Sheffield greeted him with a line-drive home run to left for the Tigers' eighth and ultimately winning run. It was the new Cardinal's fifth home run allowed in 16 innings this season. Did someone say "Jorge Sosa"?
The Cardinals still kept coming back. Edmonds singled against Detroit closer Todd Jones to lead off the ninth. Molina took his place as the Tigers argued in vain that his grounder should have been a double play. Kennedy walked but Chris Duncan, batting for Eckstein, hit a pop fly out. Aaron Miles, the next pinch-hitter, singled to bring in the Cards' sixth run. Spiezio doubled into the left field corner to cut the lead to one. With first base open, Pujols was intentionally walked to load the bases for Rolen. Jones induced him to pop out to third base to end the game.
The Cardinals will try to salvage a 3-6 roadtrip and avoid the series sweep on Sunday at 12:05 P.M. Central as Brad Thompson (2-0, 4.03) takes on Justin Verlander (4-1, 2.76).
- It speaks volumes about the 2007 Cardinals attack to note that Molina is currently hitting 25 points better than the next highest average batter in Saturday night's starting lineup.
- After left-handed Chris Duncan was the designated hitter Friday night, he was sat down against the lefty Robertson on Saturday. Scott Spiezio hit second as the DH. On the other hand, lefty Jim Edmonds was back in centerfield after not starting in game one. Spiezio went 4-for-6 with two RBIs. Edmonds was on base three times with two hits and a walk and a run scored. Duncan was 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter.
- I know the players and managers on the two teams are cordial, but I am quite positive that Bob Gibson would share my contempt in seeing Albert Pujols at first base chatting it up between pitches with the many Tigers who were on base all evening.
- The Tigers offense is hitting on all cylinders. Among the categories in which they lead all of MLB are slugging, total bases, RBI and runs scored. On the other hand, the Cards are in or near the cellar in these same stats.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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