Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/13/10

Behind Kyle Lohse Sunday night, the Cardinals finished a 3-4 road trip with a split in Atlanta.



The Cardinals, it seems, can't decide whether they're still in contention or not for a postseason spot. When they've needed to win series, they haven't done so, although they at least salvaged a split of a four-game set at Atlanta Sunday night.

But in the process of chasing National League Central Division leader Cincinnati and several wild-card clubs, the Cardinals are learning about a little about a couple of players who perhaps have turned the corner and may be more productive for the club next year.

Right-hander Kyle Lohse, gradually finding something resembling his 2008 and early 2009 form, gained his second victory since coming off the disabled list (forearm surgery) last month. He scattered nine hits in 5 1/3 innings but walked just one and got a key double play on Braves third baseman Martin Prado in the fifth inning when the Braves were threatening.

Lohse (3-7) also received a lift from center fielder Colby Rasmus, who turned in a spectacular leaping catch to rob Braves center fielder Nate McLouth of at least an extra-base hit and possibly a homer in the fourth.

Shortstop Brendan Ryan, who has scuffled at .200 -- and even under that figure for part of the season -- has put together four consecutive two-hit games as he appears to be hitting more on top of the ball.

Ryan's two-run triple with two out in a four-run fifth broke the game open after Lohse had singled home a run with two outs.

And there's a player the Cardinals already know everything about. First baseman Albert Pujols cracked two solo homers off Atlanta right-hander Tim Hudson, giving Pujols 39 home runs and 104 RBI, both league-leading figures. Pujols' 38th career multi-homer game broke a tie with Stan Musial for the club record.

"It's pretty special to be named with that legend," said Pujols.

CARDINALS 7, BRAVES 3: The Cardinals finished their next-to-last trip with a 3-4 mark. They have had just one winning journey since their first trip of the season. With most of the Cardinals' right-handed bullpen running on fumes and getting the night off, young RHP Blake Hawksworth delivered 2 2/3 strong innings in relief of RHP Kyle Lohse.


1B Albert Pujols has been playing with a "jammed" left elbow for the last couple of weeks, manager Tony La Russa. But Pujols, who has occasionally worn a compression sleeve on the elbow, has continued to play and Pujols said the injury was not significant, though admittedly painful. Pujols wore a sleeve Sunday night—and hit two home runs. "There is no DL in September," Pujols said. "You have to keep pushing and try to put us in a good spot."

LF Matt Holliday has told the Cardinals he would switch to right field if, down the line, the club acquired somebody who played only left field. Holliday, who has appeared almost exclusively in left field for Colorado, Oakland and St. Louis, did play some right field in the 2008 All-Star Game.

Manager Tony La Russa, who is completing his 15th season as Cardinals manager, said his answer to his returning next season and beyond "will not be influenced by the outcome" of this season.

INF Felipe Lopez was nine for his last 81 (.111) entering Sunday night's game. He went one for two in a reserve role.

RHP Ryan Franklin broke out a knuckleball on Saturday and C Yadier Molina whiffed on it for a passed ball on a strikeout. "I've been throwing that thing my whole life," said Franklin, who actually has used it very infrequently as a major leaguer. "Whatever else I can try to keep a hitter off-balance and put in his head, that's good, because he's thinking up there," Franklin said.

Manager Tony La Russa asked for—and received—an autographed baseball and lineup card from retiring Atlanta manager Bobby Cox. The two managers, who have more than 5,100 victories combined, met for the last time in a regular-season game. La Russa also signed a ball for Cox. La Russa said Cox "has had the best managerial career of anybody I've been around… He's done it exactly the right way, which is most important. I hope he gets to the postseason. I hope they get to the postseason."

By the Numbers:

.300-30-100 - 1B Albert Pujols has only to maintain his average above .300—he has 10 or so points to spare—to achieve a record 10th straight season from the start of a career in which he has hit at least .300 with 30 or more homers and 100 RBI.


Quote to Note:


"The highs are enjoyable but you can't enjoy them for long. The disappointments are painful and you carry them for much longer."


- Tony La Russa, on managing.




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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