Tuesday, July 4, 2000 - At Busch Stadium II (Andy Benes - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent: Cincinnati Reds (Ron Villone - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance: 46,022
Just one year after getting blown out at home by the Arizona Diamondbacks by a score of 17-5 - the red-hot Redbirds had plenty of fireworks in their arsenal this time around - most notably, the newly acquired Jim Edmonds, who had a pair of home runs which drove in four runs - as St Louis blasted the Reds - 14-3.
Of course, Edmonds had a lot of help from his teammates - Edgar Renteria and Mike Matheny both drove in three runs - Mark McGwire added two more RBI - and even Shawon Dunston and Keith McDonald drove in a run apiece.
Starting pitcher Andy Benes (9-3) worked solid six innings - allowing six hits and two walks - which scored two runs. He also struck out eight. Two relievers - Mark Thompson (1 IP - 1 H - 1 R - 0 BB - 1 SO - 1 HR) and Mike Matthews (2 IP - 2 H - 0 R - 0 BB - 3 SO) got the final nine outs with relative ease.
The Cardinals took charge of this game right from the start - scoring six runs in the first inning - but thanks to an error by Reds first baseman Sean Casey - five of the six runs scored were unearned.
After lead-off hitter Renteria was retired on a fly ball to left field - Casey then booted Shawon Dunston's ground ball, which allowed him to reach base. Apparently, Villone was already a bit rattled - uncorking a wild pitch to Edmonds, which advanced Dunston to second. From there he scored an unearned run after Edmonds hit the first of his two home runs. Only the run Edmonds scored was an earned run.
After Mark McGwire popped out to first, the inning should have been over. Instead the Cardinals worked a little two-out magic to score four more runs. A walk and two singles loaded the bases for Matheny, who drove in two with a single to center. Then another walk loaded the bases for Renteria, who atoned for his first AB failure by banging a two-run double to close out the scoring. It also sent Villone to a quick shower. His final pitching line: 0.2 IP - 5 H - 6 R - 1 ER - 2 BB - 0 SO - 1 HR
The Cardinals added eight more runs over the course of the final seven innings which was greatly facilitated by a grand total of ten walks issued by Reds' pitching - which probably explains why they had to throw 200 pitches just to get through eight innings of play.
Prior to this game, the Cardinals all-time won-loss record for games played on the Fourth of July was 79-89 - dating all the way back to 1892, when the team known as the St Louis Browns entered the National League. Of course, that lackluster record was compiled in the 19th and 20th centuries. Also, teams generally played double-headers on the Fourth of July - a tradition that waned when the first round of expansion hit in the early '60's - which explains why the total games played is so high.
The new millennium marked a new era for Cardinal baseball - especially for games played on Independence Day. Following this win in 2000, the Redbirds stayed red hot - winning the next seven July 4th games in a row. So far, St Louis is 11-3 in the 21st century - bringing their overall won-loss record to 90-92, prior to the game today.
More July 4th Cardinal trivia later...