Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/23/11

Tony La Russa's late pitching switch paid off as the Cardinals beat the Reds before and after a two-hour rain delay on Friday night.



Manager Tony La Russa, in essence, pulled an ace out of his sleeve Friday night, changing his starting pitcher from right-hander Kyle McClellan to right-hander Miguel Batista some 30 minutes before game time, when everyone knew that rain was coming. What everyone didn't know, including the Cincinnati Reds, was that there wasn't an hour "window" in which to play, but two minutes, before it was halted.

Crew chief John Hirschbeck stopped play after six pitches in the top of the first. The upshot was that after more than a two-hour delay, McClellan relieved Batista and worked six quality innings for the win. Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker chose not to bring right-hander Edinson Volquez back after the delay, thus losing him for the night without his throwing one official pitch.

This left the first three innings in the hands of young lefthander Matt Maloney, who gave up a run in each of inning and the Cardinals made it stand up for a 4-2 win.

Besides La Russa's strategy working with Batista/McClellan, he more or less ordained young right-hander Mitchell Boggs as his closer. In the ninth inning, with 2010 Most Valuable Player Joey Votto at bat and representing the tying run, La Russa let Boggs face Votto, even though left-hander Trever Miller, against whom Votto is one for eight, was in the bullpen.

Boggs got Votto on a fly to deep left and left fielder Jonny Gomes on a pop-up for his second save in two chances since closer Ryan Franklin was demoted.

Editor's note: For much more on Friday's managerial maneuvering, check out "La Russa works weather and rules to advantage" at The Cardinal Nation Blog.



C Yadier Molina gave up a multiple-steal game for the 25th time in his career but made the big defensive play of the game when he caught unsuspecting Reds PH Chris Heisey off first base in the eighth. Heisey, the trail runner with a man at second, had strayed too far off the bag and after Molina trapped him, Heisey ran toward second, forcing 3B Miguel Cairo into an inning-ending out at third.

LF Matt Holliday has hit safely in 11 of his 12 games since coming off the disabled list after his appendectomy. His first-inning single gave him an eight-game streak at 15 for 29 and he's hitting .447 overall. "I wasn't concerned," Holliday said about his recovery. "I'd seen some players come back quickly. I just wanted to get it taken care and get back as soon as possible… It feels pretty normal now."

CF Colby Rasmus had played every inning of the Cardinals' first 20 games before he was double-switched out of the game in an eighth-inning pitching change.

The Cardinals' win gave them sole possession of first place in the National League Central Division for the first time since last Aug. 13.

BY THE NUMBERS: 17-3 - Cardinals' record when RHP Kyle McClellan (3-0 overall this year) has been on the mound in his career against Cincinnati.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There was a strong chance there was going to be rain and I didn't want to blow Kyle out. The forecasts were flying fast and furious."

- Manager Tony La Russa, on why he didn't start RHP Kyle McClellan but then, after a rain delay of more than two hours, brought him in during the first inning.



2B Skip Schumaker (strained right triceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 16. Manager Tony La Russa said Schumaker might be out longer than 15 days.

OF Allen Craig (left groin strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 17. He hopes to return after the minimum absence.

LHP Bryan Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13. He had screws inserted in his hand, and he hopes to return in early May.

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

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.



Sat., Apr. 23 vs. REDS: Chris Carpenter (0-2, 4.13) vs. Travis Wood (1-2, 5.73) 3:10 p.m. CDT (FOX Network, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).

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