Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/15/10

As their season slips away, the Cardinals showed little life in yet another loss to the Cubs on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.

INSIDE PITCH

 

If the Cardinals could just beat second-division clubs, they would be in a lot better shape.

They have lost eight consecutive series to teams with losing records.

St. Louis' 7-2 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday, following a 5-1 setback Monday, enabled the Cubs to clinch the three-game series before Wednesday's finale. The Cardinals have not won a series from a team that had a losing record since scoring a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh from July 30-Aug. 1.

When that series was over, the Cardinals had a half-game lead over the Reds in the National League Central. Now they trail the Reds by seven games, and their magic number for elimination is just 12.

"The season has not gone how we thought it was going to go," Adam Wainwright said. The same could be said for Wainwright's season.

Wainwright (18-11) has lost five of his last six starts, a slump that has mirrored his team's late-season fade. He gave up 12 hits in eight innings Tuesday, although he allowed only three hits and no runs in the last three innings.

Some of the balls found holes and other were bloopers, Wainwright thought.

"It's tough to explain, really," he said. "I didn't make very many bad pitches. It's a crazy game, man."

But the fact remained that Wainwright didn't control the bottom of the Chicago order. The last three hitters in the lineup were 7-for-11 against Wainwright, with opposing pitcher Randy Wells collecting two hits and two RBI.

CUBS 7, CARDINALS 2: The Cardinals scored two runs or fewer for the 48th time this season. They have lost 43 of those games. In the first two games of the series with Chicago, the Cardinals have been tied for two innings at 0-0 -- once in each game -- and behind for the other 16.

NOTES AND QUOTES

1B Albert Pujols missed just his second game out of 143 on Tuesday after having a cortisone shot for tendinitis in his left elbow Monday night. "If I'm going to play 19 of the (final) 20 games, I have to take a day off somehow," Pujols said. Pujols had an MRI and said no structural damage was found. The elbow injury was suffered when Pujols dived for a ball in Pittsburgh some three weeks ago.

"The pain was more intense than it has been," manager Tony La Russa said.

Pujols, who has worn a compression sleeve on his left arm with regularity lately, has hit .227 since he got hurt, although he said, "I don't want to put any excuses on the drop in my batting and all that. But it was just weird that, after that injury, I kind of started getting under the ball a little bit."

The Cardinals will open next season at home against the Padres on Thursday, March 31. Oddly, this season, the Padres have yet to appear at Busch Stadium. They will make their first appearance Thursday for the start of a four-game series. The Cardinals' 2011 schedule includes the club's first regular-season visit to Baltimore's Camden Yards and three weekend series at home against the rival Cubs.

INF Felipe Lopez made his first big-league start at first base Tuesday, and it went without incident. Lopez had played just two innings at first base in his big-league career, one this season.

Defending Pacific Coast League champion Memphis lost the first game of its championship series against Tacoma 5-3. All games in the best-of-five series are being played in Memphis because Tacoma's stadium is undergoing renovations. Memphis is the Cardinals' Class AAA affiliate.

CF Colby Rasmus' ninth-inning homer off Chicago LHP James Russell was Rasmus' 22nd home run of the season and fourth against a left-hander.

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.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

Medical Watch:

1B Albert Pujols (sore left elbow) got a cortisone shot after the Sept. 13 game, and he didn't play Sept. 14.

LHP Trever Miller (left forearm strain) did not pitch Sept. 7-14. He threw a bullpen session Sept. 13, and he is day-to-day.

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 was throwing in early September, hoping to get in a game or two, but manager Tony La Russa said it would take "a major green light" for that to happen.

3B David Freese (right ankle surgery in August 2010, left ankle surgery in September 2010) 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. He underwent surgery on the left ankle a month later, but he expects to be ready for spring training.

RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31. 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 that 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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