Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/24/10

St. Louis salvaged the final game of the three-game set in Pittsburgh with a Thursday afternoon win.



In the too-little-too-late department, the Cardinals finally beat a team that had a losing record at the time after eight consecutive defeats to such clubs.

"Mind-boggling," manager Tony La Russa said of a stretch that began with two losses at Milwaukee, three at home to Chicago, one at Florida and two more at Pittsburgh before the Cardinals thumped the Pirates on Thursday.

"Believe me, when you don't win one for a while, you appreciate playing on the road in the bottom of the ninth inning," La Russa said.

First baseman Albert Pujols reached the 40-homer plateau for the sixth time in his 10-season career by hitting his 40th and 41st. As a comparison, Hall of Famer Stan Musial didn't have any 40-homer seasons despite hitting 475 homers for the Cardinals.

La Russa, not to ignore Pujols reaching 40 homers again, said, "I think the milestone for him is 30 (homers), 100 (runs batted in) and .300 (average).

"He's said it enough times where we should believe him. He just looks at the numbers at the end of the year. He just goes out and has his at-bats. Whatever they are, they are. A real good formula."

Left fielder Matt Holliday also drove in his 100th run, giving him four seasons at that figure. He also extended his club-high hitting streak to 15 games and stroked a league-high 45th double.

"I don't sit back and analyze all the numbers," he said, "but I've felt pretty good about how I've played. You're going to have bad months, you're going to have good months and a lot in between. You just keep grinding and keep working."

It is rare when one player hits his 40th homer for a team and another player attains 100 RBI for that team on the same day.

"If these two guys are together as long as they're supposed to be, that can happen quite often," La Russa said.

CARDINALS 9, PIRATES 2: Rookie 3B Daniel Descalso, making just his second big-league start, had four hits and drove in two runs as the Cardinals salvaged one game out of three from the Pirates. RHP Jeff Suppan raised his career mark to 16-3 against Pittsburgh with his second win this year, both coming against the Pirates.


C Yadier Molina will be shut down for the season after an MRI performed in St. Louis found some inflammation in his right knee. There was no structural damage, however, and GM John Mozeliak said, "If we were playing two weeks from now, he could be ready."

Rookies Matt Pagnozzi and Bryan Anderson will handle the final 10 games.

RHP Jeff Suppan edged past the 2,500-innings mark in his career when he lasted five innings for the win Thursday. He ranks sixth among active pitchers in innings. "I just found out about that the other day," said Suppan. "During the game, it never really crossed my mind. When (pitching coach Dave) Duncan gave me the ball, it was special—because I always want to be available."

Rookie INF Daniel Descalso, starting just his second big-league game, had four hits besides playing spotlessly in the field for the second game in a row at third base, which he hadn't played since 2008 in the minors. Manager Tony La Russa, asked if more would be seen of Descalso in the final 10 days of the season, said, "I think that's a safe bet. It's a nice little start, that's all it is. (But) he just looks good doing it. That counts much more."

RHP Adam Wainwright, who missed out on his 20th win in the final weekend of last season when the bullpen couldn't hold a five-run lead, tries for No. 20 on Friday in Chicago. He would get one more start next week if he fails to beat the Cubs. Wainwright, trying to temper his emotions, said, "It's just another game, but after the game, I'll be excited when we win."

The Cardinals' road record now is 32-46. If they fail to win more than one game out of three in Chicago, they'll have the worst road record in manager Tony La Russa's 15 seasons in St. Louis. Oddly, the Cardinals were 34-47 on the road when they won the World Series in 2006.

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:

C Yadier Molina (sore right knee) hasn't played since Sept. 21. An MRI on Sept. 22 found inflammation in the knee, and he was shut him down for the rest of the season.

LHP Jaime Garcia (arm fatigue) missed starts Sept. 18 and Sept. 23. He might be able to return in the season's final week.

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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