Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/10/10

Adam Wainwright won his first game in almost a month in Atlanta Thursday night as the Cardinals located their long-lost offense – for one night, at least – scoring as many runs as they did during the entire Milwaukee series.

INSIDE PITCH

 

After suffering his fourth consecutive loss Saturday, Adam Wainwright vowed not to lose again this season. But he promptly went out Thursday night and allowed five hits and three runs in the first inning to an Atlanta team that never had beaten him in five starts.

But a rare five-run outburst by the Cardinals in the second inning put Wainwright ahead for the first time. And then he put the hammer down. Of the final 22 hitters he faced in his eight innings, Wainwright retired 20 of them, and the other two were gobbled up in double plays.

After the first inning, Wainwright had a little talk with himself in the dugout tunnel

"I was disgusted with myself," he said. "I had a little temper tantrum in the hallway and I got over it. I needed to get mad. I've been too nice."

Of his statement that he would not lose again this year, Wainwright said, "I'm not going to let four starts (his consecutive losses) ruin the body of work that I've done so far. Sometimes, you're going to make statements. The St. Louis fans deserve better than I've been doing."

Manager Tony La Russa said starting pitchers often are slow to find their groove. "Sometimes, starters don't know what they have (when they start a game)," La Russa said. "It's not unusual for a starter to be feeling his way through it."

The win was No. 18 for Wainwright, who is one shy of his career high. But the big news was the offense, which had scored just 28 runs in the last 11 games. The defense generally played well, too.

"I didn't do much," Wainwright said. "I was just out there watching my team play."

La Russa went back to his staple of batting the pitcher eighth. The strategy worked to a large degree, as shortstop Brendan Ryan, the ninth-place hitter, had two hits and two RBI.

But the big hitters were second baseman Skip Schumaker, back in the lineup after missing two starts against left-handers, and center fielder Colby Rasmus, who earned headlines for other reasons recently.

Schumaker capped the five-run second with a three-run homer, and he had two singles. Rasmus cracked two homers and was 4-for-4 with his family and friends from Columbus, Ga., on hand in Atlanta.

Rasmus was in the eye of the storm a few days ago when it was reported that he had asked to be traded, not only this July but once last year, too. Naturally, much criticism ensued, especially from Albert Pujols, who then spoke privately at length with Rasmus to smooth things over.

Rasmus, who had not homered since hitting a grand slam in Cincinnati in Aug. 11, said, "When you go through the tough times, you don't let it beat you down."

La Russa said Rasmus' performance Thursday "shows you what he's capable of."

Rasmus brought some Georgia chicken to the clubhouse and shared some with Wainwright, another Georgia native. Wainwright said Rasmus now had to bring Georgia chicken the rest of the season.

CARDINALS 11, BRAVES 4: The Cardinals tied their season high with four home runs, including No. 37 by 1B Albert Pujols, who has 99 RBI. The 11 runs matched the Cards' total for a three-game series in Milwaukee earlier this week.

NOTES AND QUOTES

RHP Adam Wainwright, signed by the Braves and traded to the Cardinals, is 6-0 against Atlanta in six starts. St. Louis is 5-0 against Atlanta this year, having outscored the Braves 36-14 in those games.

Not often have the Cardinals scored 11 runs with minimal RBI contributions from 1B Albert Pujols and LF Matt Holliday. Pujols had two hits and one RBI, on a solo homer. Holliday didn't have any RBI before he was kicked out for arguing a called third strike.

Thursday's game didn't start well for the Cardinals. On Adam Wainwright's first pitch, 2B Omar Infante got an infield hit and went all the way to third on consecutive wild throws by SS Brendan Ryan and 1B Albert Pujols. Braves RF Jason Heyward singled on the second pitch, and it was 1-0. The Braves then got a two-run homer from 1B Derrek Lee. Wainwright had his arms in the air as throws were going everywhere. "I was saying, 'Don't throw it again,'" said Wainwright, laughing later.

2B Skip Schumaker, hitting .340 since July 25, had three hits, including a three-run homer. He also pivoted well on two double plays. Schumaker is hitting only .232 against lefties, but he may have to play every day because none of the right-handed options at second base has done much lately.

LHP Trever Miller, who returned to St. Louis to have his ailing left forearm examined, was to join the team in Atlanta. Miller, who was found to have a forearm strain, probably will not pitch this weekend, but he might be available next week.

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.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

Medical Watch:

LHP Trever Miller (left forearm strain) did not pitch Sept. 7-9. He might be able to return during the week of Sept. 13-19.

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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