June 30, 2008

Cards pounce on Mets, Lohse wins 10th, Duncan ends longball drought, Mulder makes comeback appearance

The St. Louis Cardinals took care a few things tonight, including, but not limited to: a) winning the first game of a four-game series with the New York Mets, b) the offense helped Lohse to help himself to his tenth win of the season, c) Chris Duncan reached the outfield seats, d) Mark Mulder made it back to a major league pitching mound after shoulder surgery and a lengthy rehab assignment.

The Mets’ starter, John Maine, wasn’t on his best stuff from the start, the Cardinals wasting no time jumping on him, time and again, scoring in each of the first five innings before Carlos Muniz finally stopped the bleeding, and then, only after a Chris Duncan home run that barely cleared the right field wall.

The first inning found Skip Schumaker and Aaron Miles reaching on a walk and a single, respectively, Albert Pujols singling home Schumaker, Miles scoring when Troy Glaus hit into a double play.

After Yadier Molina singled in the second inning and advanced to second on a Brendan Ryan ground out, Molina scored after Luis Castillo threw the ball away on Schumaker grounder. In short order, the Cards jumped out to a 3-0 lead, giving Lohse some cushion in the early innings.
But the Cards continued to tack on, Rick Ankiel singling in the third inning, Glaus doubling him home.

The fourth found Miles notching another infield single, advancing into scoring position when third baseman David Wright launched an ill-advised throw over the first baseman’s head. Pujols singled Miles home, extending the lead to 5-0.

The only Mets run came in the fifth, Lohse able to regain control, the lead cut to four, but comfortable with Lohse’s performance at the time.

After Glaus got hit by a pitch in the fifth, Chris Duncan hit a two-run homer, his first since mid-May. The round-tripper gave the Cards there last runs of the game, putting them up 7-1.

Tony La Russa brought in Ron Villone in the eighth. The Mets managed to get a couple runners aboard, but Villone pitched out of it.

Then came the moment Cardinal Nation had been waiting for, but not more than Mark Mulder, who came out of the bullpen to make his comeback appearance, not so much to see if his arm would hold up, but to see if he still had the stuff necessary to pitch in the big leagues.

After trading outs with flare hits, Mulder got Jose Reyes to fly out, and the night finished up with satisfaction and a sigh of relief for the Cardinals, the final, 7-1.