Walton's Game Observations – Sunday – Mets 7-2

Pedro had the Cardinals' number Sunday

The Cardinals were defeated by the New York Mets by a 7-2 mark Sunday afternoon.

The St. Louis Cardinals lost to the New York Mets by a 7-2 score at Busch Stadium Sunday afternoon. The Cardinals' best record in baseball is now 91-53 as they won the four-game weekend series three games to one.

Matt Morris faced future Hall-of-Famer Pedro Martinez. Morris was not dominant, allowing 11 baserunners in 6-1/3 innings. But, four runs allowed won't do it against Pedro, who allowed two runs and fanned seven Cardinals in eight innings.

David Eckstein was the only hitter who had more than one safety, with two singles. Hector Luna doubled, scored and drove in one.

The Mets seemed to use their legs to retaliate for the Piazza beaning Saturday by attempting four steals. They were successful three times, twice against Mike Mahoney.

It still feels good
In case you missed it, both the Cubs and the Brewers, who are in a spirited battle for third place in the NL Central, were both formally eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday.

MVP watch
On Saturday, Atlanta outfielder Andruw Jones tied the Braves' team record with 47 home runs in a season. That matches the mark set by Eddie Mathews in 1953 and Hank Aaron in 1971.

Congrats to Biggio
Houston's second baseman Craig Biggio hit his 600th career double Saturday, most among active players and 13th best all-time.

Magic Number
The Cards came into the day with the magic number of seven.

Sunday's lineup – Makeshift outfield
Eckstein, Nunez, Pujols, Rodriguez (lf), Mabry (rf), Taguchi (cf), Molina, Luna (2b) and Morris. Mark Grudzielanek missed his fifth straight game due to back injury. He received an injection to relieve disc pain and is not expected back until the upcoming week. Larry Walker sat after starting the first three games of the series. Jim Edmonds also received a breather. David Eckstein remained in the lineup after his 13-game hitting streak ended on Saturday. Reggie Sanders is expected back on Monday.

On to the game…

Mets first – Two on, no execution
Jose Reyes led the game off again with a single, but this time, he stole second base. It was his 51st of the season. Kaz Matsui couldn't move him over, which probably cost them a run as Beltran hit a fly ball. David Wright walked with two out and first base open, but Marlon Anderson fanned.

Cards first – Three down
David Eckstein matched Reyes with his own leadoff single. Beltran made a nice play cutting the ball off in the gap. However, a Nunez fielders' choice put him on first instead and he went down as Albert ground into a double play to end it.

Cards second – Bottom of the order tries
So and Yadier singled with two out, but Luna popped out.

Mets third – Molina the gunner
Pedro led off with a single. Uh-oh. Reyes ground into a fielders' choice and took second as Eckstein's throw was wide of Pujols at first. Albert almost threw Reyes out as he slid into second. But, this time, Molina erased Reyes trying to steal third.

Cards third – Turnabout
With one out, Eckstein singled again, this time past third base. He matched Reyes again, too, getting caught trying to steal. Still, it was a good idea to push the envelope against Pedro.

Mets fourth – Choices, choices
Wright singled sharply to right with one out, but the inning was over after two consecutive fielders' choice grounders by Marlon Anderson and Victor Diaz.

Cards fourth – 3Ks
Pujols walked leading off. J-Rod then struck out swinging. As Mabry fanned, he stole second, though with his sore feet, he should have been out. Albert took third when catcher Ramon Castro's throw went into center. So ended it with another K.

Mets fifth – One on the board
A pair of leadoff doubles by Mike Jacobs and Castro got the Mets on the board. With one out, Castro was thrown out by Pujols trying to take third on a fielders' choice by Reyes. Matsui was hit by a pitch, putting two on, but Morris escaped by getting Beltran to line out to a sliding J-Rod. Mets 1-0.

Cards fifth – Doubled up
Molina walked leading off, but a Luna-started double play nipped the threat in the bud despite the fact that Molina was running on the play.

Mets sixth – Chipping away
Wright started with a ground rule double to right. He was sacrificed to third by Anderson, but it looked like there was breathing room when Diaz fanned. Unfortunately, Jacobs doubled Wright home on a shot past third. He then moved up on a wild pitch by Morris that hit the backstop on the fly. Castro was carefully walked, and Pedro was retired to end it. Mets 2-0.

Cards sixth – Chance to tie
Nunez singled with one out, but another double play off Pujols' bat ended the threat again.

Mets seventh – Crooked number
Reyes led off with a triple over Mabry in right, then Luna bobbled the relay. Reyes quickly scored on a Matsui sacrifice fly. After Carlos Beltran's home run into the seats in right on his 104th pitch of the day, Morris departed in favor of Cal Eldred. Anderson singled in between the last two outs. Mets 4-0.

Cards seventh – Foul homer
Mabry just missed a home run past the foul pole in right.

Mets eighth – Not this time
Castro singled to left with one out and was sacrificed to second by Pedro, where he was stranded by Reyes. Good to get him out once.

Cards eighth – Pinch-hit parade nets only two
Skip Schumaker, who entered in the top of the inning as Pujols was taken out, singled up the middle leading off. It was the Cards' first hit since the third inning. He scored on a double into the left field gap by Luna. After Chris Duncan fanned, Scott Seabol singled to put runners on the corners. Luna scored on a John Gall fielders' choice on a shot to third. After showing bunt with two outs(!?!), Diaz wildly fanned swinging to end it. Mets 4-2.

Mets ninth – Wainwright lets it get away
Adam Wainwright's major league debut was rocky. Matsui singled, stole second and took third on a Mike Mahoney throwing error. His throw was about three feet over the second baseman. Beltran walked. Against Wright and Gerald Williams, Mabry made consecutive nice reaction plays at third to draw ovations from the hungry crowd. An escape looked promising as Wainwright had Victor Diaz 0-2 before Beltran stole second and Diaz' homer over the Cards bullpen cleared the bases. Wainwright thought he had Diaz fanned on borderline curves twice on the pitches immediately before the 418 foot home run. The line between success and failure is sometimes very thin. Mets 7-2.

Cards ninth – A chance
Against closer and former Cardinal Braden Looper, the Cards started well. J-Rod singled and Mabry's double put both runners in scoring position. However, So, Skip and Hector made the final three outs as the runners had to stay put.

Upcoming action (times CDT)
Monday vs. Pittsburgh: Mark Mulder vs. Mark Redman 7:10pm FSMW
Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh: Chris Carpenter vs. Josh Fogg 7:10pm FSMW
Wednesday vs. Pittsburgh: Jason Marquis vs. Oliver Perez 2:10pm WB11
Thursday @ Cubs: Jeff Suppan vs. Mark Prior 7:05pm FSMW
Friday @ Cubs: Matt Morris vs. Glendon Rusch 2:20pm WB11

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

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