Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/18/11

Ryan Franklin suffered his fourth blown save of the season in a very tough loss on Sunday.

INSIDE PITCH

 

In blowing three saves in his first four opportunities, Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin, who missed on just two of 29 tries a year ago, was victimized by poor pitch location and some defensive mistakes. On Sunday, he blew another save but found no fault with anything, other than Los Angeles center fielder Matt Kemp hitting the final pitch he threw over the left-center-field wall for a two-run, game-losing homer in the ninth inning.

"It was a sinker down and in. Right where I wanted to throw it," said Franklin. "It was right on the corner. He just hit it.

"Go ahead and look at the video. It sank."

And then it rose as the Cardinals missed out on a chance to complete their first four-game sweep at Los Angeles since 1968 but still finished off a 6-4 trip. "Any time we win a series, we're not totally unhappy," said manager Tony La Russa, looking as if he had lost a fight because a sinus infection had swelled the area around his right eye.

The bigger matter, though, is whether La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan maintain their confidence in Franklin as their closer, as they have professed all along. Right-hander Mitchell Boggs, a closer in waiting, had another scoreless inning while working the eighth on Sunday but La Russa and Duncan are reluctant just yet to entrust such a responsibility to Boggs.

More likely, La Russa will try to get Franklin more work in non-threatening situations rather than the perilous one he inherited on Sunday after Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier had doubled off left-hander Trever Miller on Miller's first pitch of the ninth, a hanging breaking ball.

NOTES, QUOTES

RHP Chris Carpenter, the staff ace, still is winless but he easily could have had one Sunday, pitching seven brilliant innings of shutout ball, walking no one. All of Carpenter's pitches were sharp and his location precise.

Several hitting streaks were snapped by Los Angeles RHP Chad Billingsley on Sunday, but not that of 3B David Freese, who blooped a run-scoring single in the top of the ninth off RH reliever Jonathan Broxton to score LF Matt Holliday (who had three hits) with the Cardinals' only run. Freese's streak rests at eight games on 15 hits in 30 at-bats.

2B Skip Schumaker and OF Allen Craig were both unavailable Sunday. Schumaker has a hyperextended right elbow, a result of a swing he took on Friday night. He didn't play Saturday either. And Craig suffered an injury to his left groin in stealing a base Saturday night after hitting a three-run homer earlier in the game. General manager John Mozeliak said both players would be examined on Monday's off day but didn't anticipate either being disabled.

CF Colby Rasmus played every inning of the Cardinals' 10-game trip and hit safely in the first nine at 18-for-43 with two home runs.

LHP Trever Miller was charged with his first run of the season in his eighth outing. Miller, inheriting a 1-0 lead in the ninth, allowed a leadoff double to Los Angeles RF Andre Ethier, who then scored on CF Matt Kemp's two-run homer off RH reliever Ryan Franklin.

RHP Eduardo Sanchez is someone to keep an eye on in the near future. Pitching in non-stressful situations, the hard-throwing, 5-foot-11 Sanchez, just recalled from Class AAA Memphis, registered eight strikeouts in his first three innings, allowing two hits and no runs.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1922 - Last time the Cardinals had scored eight or more runs in six consecutive games until they did it this year from April 11-16.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't know if I'm looking at the wrong, damn game or not. I thought I made a pitch, right there."

- RHP Ryan Franklin, recounting the 2-2 sinker that Los Angeles CF Matt Kemp hit for a two-run, ninth-inning homer that won Sunday's game, 2-1, for the Dodgers.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

2B Skip Schumaker (hyperextended right elbow) was unavailable Sunday, the result of a swing he took on Friday night. He didn't play Saturday either. He will examined on Monday's off day.

OF Allen Craig (left groin) was hurt stealing a base Saturday night. He will be examined on Monday's off day.

LHP Bryan Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13.

RHP Bryan Augenstein (strained right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list April 13.

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.

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.

Next game: Cardinals are off on Monday. Tue., Apr. 19 vs. NATIONALS: Jake Westbrook (1-1, 7.63) vs. John Lannan (1-1, 3.38) 7:15 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).


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