Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/28/11

The Cardinals survived a very shaky finish to defeat Houston 6-5 on Wednesday night.



The Cardinals' 6-5 win over Houston on Wednesday night never should have been that close

The St. Louis bullpen, both old and young, staggered down the stretch The late-inning problems threatened to overcome another brilliant outing by right-hander Kyle Lohse

After spinning a two-hit shutout against Washington in his last start, Lohse blanked Houston on four hits for seven innings and left with a 6-0 lead

Not only has Lohse given up just 22 hits in 38 1/3 innings, but he has walked just five while striking out 24 Of the seven runs he has allowed, four of them came in one inning in his first start of the season

On Wednesday, Lohse (4-1) showed an excellent changeup, and though not necessarily considered a sinkerball pitcher, he kept the ball down enough to record 12 of his 21 outs on groundballs

Lohse, who said he was fighting a cold, said he didn't have his usual command, citing his walking opposing pitcher J.A. Happ

"That's not what you want to do, even if is hitting 500 ( 571)," Lohse said "I got away with it

"It felt I was more behind in the count than I have been "

However, Lohse did throw 19 first-pitch strikes to the 25 hitters he faced

The Cardinals' offense was resourceful enough to overcome hitting into five double plays Especially significant were four two-out singles, by Nick Punto, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, each good for a run in the seventh, which seemed to put the game away

"Any time you've got a chance to keep piling on, you've got to do it," Berkman said "We scored just enough to win "

Holliday, who was 3-for-4 on the season when he went out with an appendectomy, seems to be hitting about as much since he came back Holliday, also battling a cold, was 3-for-4 with a home run and is 24-for-59 ( 407) since returning

With right-hander Mitchell Boggs, the closer of the moment, getting a night off because he had endured a long inning in blowing a save Tuesday, manager Tony La Russa went through four pitchers in the final two innings after determining he should replace Lohse La Russa said Lohse was getting the ball up in the seventh inning

Rookie right-hander Eduardo Sanchez got his first major league save Though he allowed his first two runs in seven appearances, Sanchez got the final out by fanning Hunter Pence on a much better breaking ball than he had thrown earlier in the inning

"He made a great pitch to get Pence out," said La Russa, who admitted he and pitching coach Dave Duncan were still looking to "get the bullpen right" after veteran right-hander Ryan Franklin was stripped of his closer's job


RHP Ryan Franklin and LHP Trever Miller continue to struggle Franklin, working in a non-stressful situation with a six-run lead in the eighth, allowed a double and a single to the only two hitters he faced, although LF Matt Holliday, who tried to make a sliding grab, said he should have caught Houston 2B Joe Inglett's liner Miller hasn't retired any of the four hitters he has faced in his last four appearances, He walked left-handed-hitting CF Michael Bourn on a full-count pitch after having Bourn down 1-2

"He's just not sharp," said manager Tony La Russa, who said he intends to use Miller again Thursday if the situation arose

2B Nick Punto, who had no spring training because of an operation to repair a sports hernia, played stellar defense and contributed two hits "I'm getting more comfortable every night," Punto said

SS Ryan Theriot sat out for a second straight night with a tug in his right rib-cage area Theriot said he would be able to play Thursday, but Tyler Greene has filled in well, hitting his first home run and adding a single Wednesday

RF Lance Berkman, returning to Houston, where he starred for a decade, had his second consecutive two-hit night at Minute Maid Park, and he made an outstanding running catch near the right field foul line But, playing in for spray-hitting SS Angel Sanchez, Berkman allowed a double to be hit over his head in the ninth inning, keeping the game alive Berkman has had six straight multi-hit games and has 11 for the season, tops in the league

CF Jon Jay, giving Colby Rasmus his first game off of the season, had two hits and a walk Jay had been just one for his last 13 entering the game

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 - Hits by former Cardinals first-round draft pick Brett Wallace, the Houston first baseman, in the first two games of the series

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I thought he'd get three outs It didn't work out that way "

- Manager Tony La Russa, on struggling RHP Ryan Franklin, whom La Russa lifted after Franklin gave up hits to the first two men he faced in the eighth while working with a six-run lead



SS Ryan Theriot (sore rib cage) was a late scratch April 26, and he didn't play April 27 He is day-to-day

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 Tallet, who is scheduled to have stitches removed from his hand May 1, stayed behind as the Cardinals went on the road April 26, and was scheduled to throw side sessions every other day

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



Thu , Apr 28 at ASTROS: Kyle McClellan (3-0, 2 16) vs Nelson Figueroa (0-3, 8 55) 7:05 p m CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network)

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