Cardinals Major League Notebook: 05/12/11

Jake Westbrook was pounded after a rain delay as the Cardinals crashed at Wrigley Wednesday night.

INSIDE PITCH

 

The Cardinals made their first key managerial decision without manager Tony La Russa on hand, and it didn't work Wednesday night.

After a 53-minute rain delay, right-hander Jake Westbrook was brought back, but he had little when he returned. He gave up four hits and five runs in the bottom of the third inning after pitching two scoreless innings.

Right-handed reliever Jason Motte quickly allowed two hits, and when the inning was over, the Chicago Cubs had six runs en route to an 11-4 win that evened the three-game series at one game apiece.

Given that the delay wasn't an hour, La Russa, who is back in St. Louis after undergoing treatment in Scottsdale, Ariz., for shingles, likely would have brought back Westbrook, too. But Westbrook clearly wasn't the same pitcher, retiring none of the six hitters he faced after fanning opposing pitcher Matt Garza for the first out.

Westbrook, pointing out that he had struggled a bit in the first two innings, too, said, "It wasn't the delay. I felt great when I went back out there. It was the same pattern as when I started the ballgame. I was getting behind guys. I can't continue to pitch that way."

Over his previous three starts, Westbrook had given up only five earned runs.

"I kind of took a step back," he said.

Acting manager Joe Pettini said, "I don't think he started out with the best stuff, and he definitely didn't have it after the break."

Pettini said he felt it was easier to bring back a veteran like Westbrook after a rain delay than it would have been if it were a younger pitcher, but he admitted, "It looked like it had an effect on him."

If there was a plus for the long night, it was that right-hander Ryan Franklin, the former closer, got to pitch for the first time since May 1. After a rocky first two innings in which he gave up four runs on six hits, he threw a scoreless inning.

St. Louis pitchers haven't allowed a home run -- the Cardinals haven't hit one, either -- in the first two games of the series, but they have allowed 30 hits, including 25 singles.

NOTES AND QUOTES

1B Albert Pujols, predictably, was the subject of much speculation after hugging Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry, a good friend, on two occasions before Tuesday's game. Pujols will be a free agent after the season, and the media was abuzz about Pujols being a target for the Cubs. "I figured that would happen, that they would play with it," Pujols said. "I just think it's kind of ridiculous. Three writers came and talked to me about that and the contract."

Pujols, starting to rally after a slow start, has had five hits in eight at-bats during the series, knocking in two of the Cardinals' runs in a three-run seventh inning Wednesday.

CF Colby Rasmus and LF Matt Holliday each threw out a Cubs runner at home plate. Those two outfield assists matched the team's total for the season.

Rasmus was robbed of a potential two-run double when Cubs 1B Carlos Pena snatched a line drive to end the third inning after the Cardinals had taken a 1-0 lead. "A game changer, definitely," acting manager Joe Pettini said.

RHP Ryan Franklin, appearing for the first time since May 1, threw 54 pitches in a three-inning relief stint. He gave up four runs and seven hits. "I figured some things out," said Franklin, the former closer. "I got beat on some off-speed stuff. I figured I wouldn't be sharp, but I figured I had to throw some (off-speed pitches). I should have just mainly thrown fastballs."

Manager Tony La Russa returned to St. Louis after being treated for two days in Scottsdale, Ariz., for a case of shingles. He may come back to the dugout Monday when the Cardinals are back home, but no one is projecting that just yet.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 - Number of 1-2-3 innings out of eight worked by the Cardinals staff Wednesday night.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've never actually done that, but I felt great. It was zero excuse for the way I pitched. I just didn't pitch very well."

- RHP Jake Westbrook, coming back after a 53-minute rain delay and then giving up five runs in the third inning.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

INF/OF Allen Craig (sore left calf) was hurt May 6, and he didn't play May 7-10. He returned to action May 11.

3B David Freese (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list May 2. He had surgery May 3, and he is expected to be out until mid- to late July.

2B Skip Schumaker (strained right triceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 16. He hopes to return in May.

LHP Bryan Tallet (fractured right hand) went on 15-day disabled list April 13. He was throwing but not catching in early May, and the timetable for his return was uncertain.

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.

NEXT GAME

 

Thu., May 12 at CUBS: Jaime Garcia (4-0, 1.99) vs. Casey Coleman (1-2, 6.29) 1:20 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).


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