Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/22/10

Arriving in Pittsburgh did nothing to awaken slumping St. Louis as they lost again Tuesday night.



The Cardinals, who have made a number of National League second-division teams feel good about themselves lately, enabled Pittsburgh to post its first four-game winning streak of the season Tuesday.

The Cardinals' loss left them at 22-30 against the rest of the National League Central except first-place Cincinnati (12-6). It left them at 44-50 against teams that entered Tuesday's play with losing records.

It also left them just four games over .500 at 77-73 and 31-45 on the road. They're eight games behind the Reds, who have a magic number of four, and after the loss they were quiet, almost numbed in the locker room.

"We're losing. What do you expect me to be? Happy?" catcher Yadier Molina said, not angrily.

The game prevented Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm (7-15, 5.36 ERA) from extending his National League lead in defeats. Maholm, who worked seven strong innings, had lost six straight decisions. He didn't walk anybody.

Afterward, while the Pirates reached a modest milestone, it was the Cardinals who were going to dinner. Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and general manager John Mozeliak thought it would be good to treat the club to a postgame dinner on its last trip of the season, and so the club went to celebrate something besides the last month at a local restaurant.

PIRATES 5, CARDINALS 2: The Cardinals got only one run out of a bases-loaded situation in the fourth and no runs with two runners on and the middle of the lineup coming up in the eighth. The result? Their 10th loss in their last 15 games.


RHP Jake Westbrook, who had walked only 16 in nine starts, gave up three walks in four innings, and all of them scored. "I had a really good sinker; it looked like it was almost too good," said Westbrook. "I was a little too fine early on instead of attacking guys. I picked a … bad time to have a bad (game), and it cost us. I did not pitch well."

INF Felipe Lopez's showing up late for pregame warmups in Florida on Monday became the final straw. Early in the afternoon, manager Tony La Russa, who said Lopez wouldn't play down the stretch, told Lopez to go home for the rest of the season. La Russa said it had nothing to do with Lopez being late Monday. But general manager John Mozeliak, who later in the day gave Lopez his unconditonal release, suggested that it had.

"It's not the first time," said Mozeliak, adding that this was not a good example to be setting for all the young players who have joined the club lately. "Tony and I spoke earlier today. We've got a lot of young players who are September call-ups this year and we want to make sure they understand the message we want heard. It really came down to a tipping point—either just not play him or allow him to go home." Lopez finished up at .231 after a horrific 16-for-115 (.139) slump since July 28.

C Jason LaRue, whose season and career are over as a result of a concussion, the result of being kicked in the head by Cincinnati pitcher Johnny Cueto in an early August skirmish, visited Dr. Michael Collins at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for Sports Concussion Program, where Collins is the assistant director. Collins also worked with former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny several years ago when Matheny suffered a series of concussions while playing for San Francisco. LaRue said, "I'm still not normal. My short-term memory is still being affected. But at some point of time—when, I don't know—there will be a full recovery. But I don't want to say I'm close to normal. I still have some lingering effects right now."

The Cardinals will finish with a losing road record for the 10th time in manager Tony La Russa's 15 seasons in St. Louis, which seems surprising in that the Cardinals have made the playoffs eight times in those years. LaRussa's worst road record with the Cardinals was 34-47 in the world championship year of 2006. They are 31-45 this year, and 12 of the losses were shutouts. The Cardinals have been blanked just once at home.

LF Matt Holliday is one of the few hitters on the rise lately. His first-inning single extended his hitting streak to 13 games, in which he is 21-for-48.

By the Numbers:

38 - Multi-homer games for 1B Albert Pujols, breaking Stan Musial's club record by one, through Sunday.


Quote to Note:


"I'm done. It's a simple decision."


- C Jason LaRue, announcing he will retire after suffering a concussion when kicked in the head by Cincinnati RHP Johnny Cueto in a brawl in August.




Medical Watch:

LHP Jaime Garcia (arm fatigue) missed his Sept. 18 start and is expected to miss another start.

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. He has announced that he will retire.

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 before season's end, but manager Tony La Russa said that was unlikely.

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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