Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/09/10

The Cardinals lost another series to the Brewers as their most dependable starter recently faltered.



The Cardinals have won the last two series they played against National League Central-leading Cincinnati and one against San Francisco, another playoff contender. But they also have dropped their last seven series to teams under .500, including the one that ended at Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

"I remember there was some point when we were criticized because we didn't beat the good clubs," manager Tony La Russa said. "Now, we beat the good clubs and we've just lost the season series to Houston (10-5) and to these guys (8-7)."

La Russa said he found no fault with his team's effort. But he added, "I played with effort, too. That's not enough. In this league, it takes effort and execution. We've got to get more done."

Left-hander Jaime Garcia, who had surrendered just three earned runs to the Brewers in four previous starts this year, was roughed up for three runs in the third inning and four in the fourth, and his night was over. All seven scored with two outs, which La Russa found uncharacteristic for Garcia (13-7).

"One of his real keys is that he's been really good at putting hitters away," La Russa said. "Mistakes with men in scoring position ... you get burned."

Garcia's biggest mistake came on Ryan Braun's three-run homer in the fourth that put the game away.

Pitching coach Dave Duncan had just been to the mound to tell Garcia to throw his sinker. Rookie catcher Matt Pagnozzi called one. Garcia, for whatever reason, shook to a changeup, which turned out to be the wrong pitch.

"That was completely, 100 percent my fault," Garcia said. "I just didn't have any confidence tonight. Hopefully, I'll learn from that and move on."

BREWERS 8, CARDINALS 1: The Cardinals actually led in Wednesday's game. 1B Albert Pujols pounded his league-leading 36th homer, his first in 11 games, to give the Cardinals a 1-0 edge in the first. They got just three hits after that in seven innings off Milwaukee LHP Chris Capuano, who had his longest outing in more than three years.


The Cardinals, almost incomprehensibly, haven't won back-to-back series since they beat Los Angeles and Philadelphia seven games out of eight just after the All-Star break in mid-July.

The Cardinals also have lost their last six games started by opposing lefties. "I don't want to give scouting reports," manager Tony La Russa said, "but there's something there that we're (not) doing consistently. We've got better hitters against left-handed pitching than we've done. For a while, we were getting our wins against left-handers, but we're getting shut down pretty regularly now. We've got to do something about it."

C Matt Pagnozzi, in his first major league start, got his first hit, a single. But he also felt he didn't do enough to help LHP Jaime Garcia, the losing pitcher. "There were a couple of firsts tonight," Pagnozzi said, "but, ultimately, you want to get that first win (as a starting catcher)."

LHP Jaime Garcia gave up the most earned runs he had allowed all season, permitting seven in four innings against the Brewers. "I would say bad pitch selection on my side," Garcia said. "(C Matt Pagnozzi) did a great job, actually. I wasn't really focused tonight. I don't know what was going on. It was just one of those days where I tried to do too much."

LHP Trever Miller returned to St. Louis, where an MRI determined he has a forearm strain but no ligament damage to his elbow. Miller will miss the weekend series in Atlanta, although the club hopes to have him back in a week. "We're just not sure," GM John Mozeliak said. "So, we'll take it day by day and see how he feels."

3B David Freese, already out for the season after surgery to repair ligament damage in his right ankle, had arthroscopic surgery to take care of bone spurs and other tissue in his left ankle in Vail, Colo., where he had had the right ankle surgery. Freese had gone to Colorado to have his right ankle checked, and the left ankle was worked on while he was there. The left ankle surgery stems from an auto accident Freese had in January 2009 that resulted in surgery during the 2009 season. The surgery on the right ankle was more severe, so Freese shouldn't be set back any further. He still hopes to be ready for spring training.

Though C Yadier Molina said he heard nothing profane, Major League Baseball umpiring assistant to the vice president Bruce Froemming said plate umpire Bob Davidson had ejected a fan behind the plate Tuesday night because of vulgar language directed toward Molina. Froemming, who was sitting in the Miller Park stands, said, "Davidson did what you do when there's profanity in the stands with women and children sitting there. He told security to get the guy out."

By the Numbers:

12-6 - The Cardinals' final record against the division-leading Reds. Through Sept. 8, St. Louis was 22-26 against the rest of the NL Central.


Quote to Note:

"At less than 100 percent, he's still a great player."

- Manager Tony La Russa, saying that 1B Albert Pujols isn't at top form physically in the midst of a recent swoon.




Medical Watch:

C Jason LaRue (concussion) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 13. He was moved to the 60-day DL on Aug. 19, ending his season.

RHP Adam Ottavino (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 17. He won't need surgery, but he is out for the season.

3B David Freese (right ankle surgery) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 15. He was originally out due to a bone bruise on his right ankle, and then he broke his left big toe in mid-July. He tore a right ankle tendon Aug. 2 in his first rehab game with Class AA Springfield, and he had season-ending surgery Aug. 6.

RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22. He threw bullpen sessions June 28 and July 1 but had to cut short a bullpen session July 6 because of tightness in his triceps area. He underwent an MRI on July 7, which found nothing that hadn't been diagnosed before. As of Aug. 5, he was playing catch but not throwing off a mound. Penny is out indefinitely.

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