Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/28/10

The Cardinals avoided elimination in the NL Central with a Monday home win over the Pirates.



The usual suspects, Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols, had a lot to do with the Cardinals staying alive in the National League Central Division race Monday night.

Holliday drove in three runs, including two on his 28th homer, and Pujols drove in his 117th run with a single.

But it was reinforcements from Class AAA Memphis who were just as responsible for the Cardinals' 6-4 over Pittsburgh, which left them six games behind National League Central leader Cincinnati with six games to play.

Rookie catcher Matt Pagnozzi, enjoying his second consecutive multi-hit game, had three hits and scored a run besides handling a victory for the fifth time in his last six starts.

"The catcher had an outstanding day," said manager Tony La Russa. "He's got an aptitude. He catches. He throws really well. And he's getting a lot of hits."

Rookie third baseman Daniel Descalso, a second baseman in the minors, played flawlessly and often brilliantly in the field.

And rookie right fielder Allen Craig, who has been up and down a handful of times this season, had two hits after having three on Sunday and a three-run homer on Friday.

Craig had 81 runs batted in for 83 games at Memphis this year and was the organization's Player of the Year in 2009 when he hit .322 with 26 homers at Memphis.

"He's going to have to get a shot at the big leagues at some point," said La Russa, "because he's proven he's a run producer. And I think every organization subscribes to that."

CARDINALS 6, PIRATES 4: RHP Kyle Lohse, on the long road back from forearm surgery in June, threw a season-high 106 pitches although he didn't get credit for the victory. The Cardinals' bullpen -- LHP Dennys Reyes, RHP Jason Motte and RHP Kyle McClellan -- held Pittsburgh scoreless over the last three innings.


RHP Adam Wainwright, before he won his last two starts to get to 20 victories, slept awkwardly on his right arm and his elbow had become stiff, manager Tony La Russa said. Wainwright was examined by Dr. George Paletta, the Cardinals' medical supervisor, on Monday night but no need was found to have an MRI. Wainwright said, "It's not a big deal." He is slated to make his final start of the season on Thursday although that might be adjusted. "I really don't know which day he's going to get," said La Russa. "It shows you a lot about him. He won (No.) 19 and 20 with his elbow barking. We're going to do the smart thing there."

The Cardinals have been getting some key production from several rookies in the last month. Manager Tony La Russa said it was important for the players to have some perspective about their success. "You want the players to know this is a chance for them to compete and get some experience," said La Russa. But La Russa said the players shouldn't "feel like if (they) do good, they can go home during the winter and contact a real estate agent and buy a house. If they do poorly, they don't want to go on suicide watch."

RHP Kyle Lohse, who has made eight starts after recovering from right forearm surgery, will get one more start this weekend. Lohse said he is looking to rest during the offseason, calling the last two seasons "draining" as he tried to recover from forearm ailments in both years.

1B Albert Pujols drew his 38th intentional walk on Monday. He is one walk away from becoming the first Cardinals player to have three straight seasons of 100 or more walks.

RHP Jason Motte has knocked off nine scoreless appearances, covering eight innings, since coming off the disabled list. The hard-throwing Motte had been sidelined by a shoulder sprain.

By the Numbers:

2 - Saves blown by RH reliever Ryan Franklin, the Cardinals' closer, through the first 25 weeks of the season. The problem was that he had only 28 save chances in that time.


Quote to Note:




- Manager Tony La Russa, about his team dropping eight straight games to teams with losing records before finally winning at Pittsburgh.




Medical Watch:

RHP Blake Hawksworth (mouth, lip lacerations) was struck in the face by a line drive Sept. 25 and was hospitalized for observation. He was discharged from on Sept. 26 after requiring almost 30 stitches to close wounds in his mouth and upper lip. Manager Tony La Russa said he did not expect Hawksworth to pitch again this season.

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 down for the season.

LHP Jaime Garcia (arm fatigue) missed starts Sept. 18 and Sept. 23, and the Cardinals announced on Sept. 24 that he had been shut down for the season.

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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