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Notes: Marquis a mad scientist?
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04/17/2004  7:46 PM ET
Notes: Marquis a mad scientist?
Cards pitcher sees each start as experiment
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Jason Marquis is constantly trying to find ways to improve on the mound. (AP Photo)
ST. LOUIS -- Jason Marquis went to the mound Saturday for the Cardinals against Colorado. The scorebooks may call it a "start," but he sees it as just another lab session in his studies with "professor" Dave Duncan, the Cardinals pitching coach.

"It's amazing what you learn from the man, what I've already learned," said Marquis, who came over from Atlanta in the J.D. Drew trade, and got his first win as a Cardinal in Saturday's 8-4 win over Colorado.

Duncan, whose legend has been built on revitalizing veteran careers, says there isn't much to it.

"My job is watching a guy pitch and telling him what I see," he said.

What he sees in Marquis is a guy who "always had a devastating skinner (sinker), and who needs to get back to it more."

"It's just the pitch I had growing up, and I got away from it," Marquis said. "He's showing me when and how to throw it, and it's paying off already."

Marquis was tagged early for a two-run homer by Todd Helton (his second in as many nights) to fall behind 3-0. But with the score 3-2, one out and the bases loaded with Rockies in the fifth, he coaxed a grounder by Jeromy Burnitz to first baseman Albert Pujols (that led to a force at the plate) and a grounder to the mound by Todd Greene to end the threat. The Cards lit up Colorado starter Shawn Estes for five in the bottom of the frame -- highlighted by back-to-back homers from Pujols and Scott Rolen to take control.

Marquis pitched seven strong innings -- his longest outing as a Cardinal -- giving up eight hits, striking out four and walking two.

"It was a battling day, and hopefully we won't battle as much down the line," said Marquis.

"You have to be excited about what Jason is doing," Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa said. "He has so much upside."

Cardinals ace Matt Morris knows what happened.

"Jason was in Atlanta where they believe in the four-seam fastball and teach it all the time," Morris said. "It's a great pitch, but he's better with the two-seamer. I know, I use it a lot."

Morris is also well aware of how Duncan can leave his stamp on any pitcher he gets.

"You can tell he's been working with a guy, because the confidence starts showing. Dave knows just what he has to do."

Duncan has a lot of new faces this year on his pitcing staff -- Chris Carpenter, Jeff Suppan, Ray King, Mike Lincoln, Marquis. Where are they in their course work?

On Carpenter, who missed all of last year with shoulder problems: "We're working on some mechanics now, but he should see the dividends on that shortly."

On Suppan, a free agent from Pittsburgh off to an 0-2 start: "You don't do too much with him. He's a complete work. You just make sure he keeps his confidence and hits his spots."

Of the bullpen, rocked during the three-game sweep by Houston, Duncan said, "You get them their innings, and keep up their confidence. It's a long season."

Here we go again? With his second two-homer game of the season, Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen is ahead of the pace set by Mark McGwire in his 70-homer season of 1998. Rolen has seven homers in 12 games, while Big Mac got his seventh in the 13th game of the 1998 campaign.

Rolen's numbers got fatter on a delayed basis Saturday. On Friday, he brought in two runs with a long fly that was ruled an error on Rockies' left fielder Matt Holliday. The ruling was changed Saturday, giving Rolen a triple and two more RBIs. With the four RBIs he collected Saturday, he now has 23 -- best in the National League.

More on Mac: Earlier in the day, Big Red was on hand for the dedication of Mark McGwire ballpark at historic Forest Park. It is the eighth, and most expensive, of the fields built by Cardinals Care, the team's community foundation. ... McGwire's 18-month-old son, Max, is a free spirit. He broke away as the ceremony started and spent most of the time exploring the pitcher's mound. "It's obvious that Max listens just as well as his father did," La Russa said, drawing a laugh. "And if you recall Mark was a pitcher (at USC), (but) we'll get Max hitting soon."

Pete Wickham is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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