Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/30/10

In the "too little, too late" department, the Cardinals won their home series over the Pirates, clinching a winning season.



The Cardinals' Class AAA Memphis club won the Pacific Coast League title last year and got to the championship round this year. And, when the Cardinals took the field Wednesday, their lineup included seven players who had been at Memphis last year and this year.

Some, like outfielder Jon Jay, already had made a significant mark at the big-league level. Others, like right-hander P.J. Walters, are trying to enhance their resumes for next year.

Walters, whose spring training was curtailed by the serious illness and then subsequent death of his prematurely born infant daughter, had been up with the Cardinals earlier in the season and had had one good start in San Diego, blanking the Padres for five innings. He was even better Wednesday.

Featuring his changeup and a couple of different fastballs, Walters threw seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball at Pittsburgh as he scored his second victory of the season.

Before the game, manager Tony La Russa had talked of how thin the Cardinals' staff was and that Walters would have to stay out there awhile, whether he pitched well or not.

Afterward, La Russa said, "I don't think you can over-exaggerate it. He knew we were short. He's got great guts, and he's got a feel for pitching. I can't tell you how much we all were impressed with what he did."

Walters said, "It was a lot of fun looking up and seeing all those (Memphis) guys behind me."

Most of the offense came from Memphis alumni, too. Outfielder Allen Craig, 7-for-18 over his past five games, cracked his fourth homer and a double. Catcher Bryan Anderson had two hits and drove in a run, as did shortstop Tyler Greene.

First baseman Mark Hamilton had his first two big-league hits. The only hit by a player who wasn't at Memphis this year was a run-scoring single by 2B Aaron Miles -- who played 16 games at Class AA Springfield this season.

CARDINALS 4, PIRATES 1: The Cardinals posted back-to-back series wins for the first time since late July. They also ensured their 10th winning season in the last 11 years as RHP P. J. Walters allowed only three hits and one walk over seven shutout innings.


1B Albert Pujols and LF Matt Holliday were out of the Cardinals' lineup together for the first time this season the day after the Cardinals were eliminated from postseason contention. Manager Tony La Russa said Pujols would play at least three games of the four remaining, and Holliday probably would play all four.

RF Allen Craig, who had been ineffective in spot duty much of the season, is 7-for-18 (.389) over the past five games, including two homers. He is improving with regular action. "A lot of us are boosters of Allen Craig," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's never really had a chance to put games together. He does a lot of good things."

The Cardinals' win was their 82nd, which ensures a winning season. "We're not celebrating or popping champagne," Tony La Russa said. But the manager said a winning season had its importance. "Don't be too cool not to acknowledge it," he said.

RHP Chris Carpenter will try to end a four-game losing streak when he opposes Colorado in his final start Thursday. In each of his last four starts, Carpenter has had one inning in which he has allowed at least four runs. On one occasion, he gave up a six-run inning.

The Cardinals won the season series from Pittsburgh, 9-6. Other than beating Cincinnati 12 times in 18 games, the Cardinals lost the season series to the four other teams in the National League Central.

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 Adam Wainwright (right forearm strain) was shut down for the season Sept. 28.

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 the hospital Sept. 26 after requiring almost 30 stitches to close wounds in his mouth and upper lip. He won't 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 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 Sept. 28, hoping to get in a game or two before season's end.

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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