Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/09/11

Can the St. Louis Cardinals as a team gain anything from a tough, extra-innings loss in San Francisco on Friday?



The Cardinals lost for the fifth time in seven games Friday, but this defeat came with some upside, unlike some of the others.

First, they erased a one-run San Francisco lead in the ninth inning on shortstop Ryan Theriot's two-out, two-run single after Theriot had fouled off four 3-2 pitches in a 12-pitch at-bat.

Second, they escaped a jam in the 11th inning when manager Tony La Russa went to a five-man infield. Left fielder Allen Craig, who lined up at third base, made a diving backhanded stab on Aaron Rowand's one-out smash down the line, and the Cardinals ran down Andres Torres between third and home.

Rookie right-hander Bryan Augenstein pitched brilliantly to wriggle of the 11th inning. The Giants had a runner at third with nobody out and, after two intentional walks following Craig's great play, Augenstein fanned pinch hitter Mark DeRosa with the bases loaded.

Rowand eventually beat left-hander Brian Tallet in the 12th with a two-out, bases-loaded single off the left-center-field wall. Preceding the winning hit in the Giants' 5-4 victory was a play on which Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols couldn't handle a low throw from Tallet. Pujols may not have seen the ball clearly with Torres running down the line.

Closer Ryan Franklin blew his second save in three chances when he allowed a two-out, run-scoring single by Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the ninth inning. Franklin blew just two of 29 save opportunities all last season.

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and Pujols actually had a pickoff play in mind if Franklin's inside pitch to Sandoval had made it to Molina's glove. Trail runner Buster Posey was well off first and might have been caught if Sandoval hadn't made contact when the ball didn't get inside enough. Sandoval hit a shot past Pujols, who was preparing to move to the bag.

"I don't fault (the play)," La Russa said. "It's worked too many times."

Next game: Sat., Apr. 9 at GIANTS: Jaime Garcia (1-0, 0.00) vs. Matt Cain (1-0, 0.00) 9:05 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network)



Manager Tony La Russa used a five-man infield for the first time in many years Friday in the 11th inning with a man at third base and no outs. After 2B Freddy Sanchez struck out, the gambit worked, as LF Allen Craig, moved to a normal third base position, made a diving stop on Giants LF Aaron Rowand and caught the runner trying to score. "Sometimes it makes sense," La Russa said. "I thought it would be a good time."

RHP Bryan Augenstein, a rookie, worked out of an 11th-inning jam, scoring many points for himself. "That's another high mark," manager Tony La Russa said. "He never acted like he was rattled or anything. He continues to impress."

2B Tyler Greene became the last Cardinal to start a game this season. Greene knocked in the first St. Louis run in the second inning with a single and played flawlessly in the field.

The Cardinals' 2-5 start is their worst since 1997, manager Tony La Russa's second season, when they were 1-6. LHP Brian Tallet, the losing pitcher, said, "We just haven't put it together yet. Right now we are 2-5, and by the St. Louis Cardinals standards, that's unacceptable. We're going to be good. We're going to win ballgames."

A private plane carrying La Russa, a couple of his coaches and several players to La Russa's fundraising golf tournament in the Oakland area had to return to a St. Louis airport Thursday when the plane's cabin failed to pressurize. No one was hurt, and the traveling party then joined the rest of the team on a later charter flight to San Francisco.

   BY THE NUMBERS: 1 - Game out of their first seven in which the Cardinals scored more than three runs.

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think that's probably really a push."

 - Manager Tony La Russa, upon hearing that LF Matt Holliday, who had an appendectomy a week ago, hoped to play Sunday.




LF Matt Holliday (appendectomy) underwent the procedure April 1. He played catch and ran sprints April 5, and the next day he hit indoors for the first time since the surgery. He hopes to play as soon as April 10, but manager Tony La Russa said that was doubtful.

RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.

INF Nick Punto (hernia surgery in February 2011) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He hopes to return in late April.

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