Cardinals Major League Notebook: 05/16/11

St. Louis suffered its first series sweep at a very bad time – at the home of division rival Cincinnati. Neither the defense nor Chris Carpenter performed well on Sunday.



The Cardinals suffered their first series sweep of the season, losing a series to the Cincinnati Reds for just the second time in the teams' last eight series over two seasons.

A 9-7 loss in the series finale was a bit misleading as the Cardinals trailed 9-2 entering the ninth before Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman walked four men, all of whom scored.

But the seven earned runs allowed by right-hander Chris Carpenter also were misleading. The Cardinals' defense was charged with two errors -- by center fielder Jon Jay and first baseman Albert Pujols -- and there were a couple of plays that weren't made by 2B Tyler Greene. Jay's error was an especially unfortunate one for the Cardinals because a good throw the made to third actually hit the runner, right fielder Jay Bruce, in the back and went out of play, advancing Bruce home and batter Scott Rolen to third.

The usual contentiousness between the teams was absent until the ninth inning, and manager Tony La Russa, who wasn't here, wasn't even involved. After shortstop Ryan Theriot and third baseman Nick Punto each doubled home two runs to get the game close, Cincinnati reliever Francisco Cordero hit Pujols in the left wrist with a high 0-2 pitch.

The Reds then got a forceout on left fielder Matt Holliday's grounder -- Pujols went in hard for the second time in the game at Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. Then right fielder Lance Berkman, who is 0-for-14 against Cordero with six strikeouts, struck out to end the game. Cordero, hearing something from Cardinals backup catcher Gerald Laird, pointed into the dugout and yelled before he and his teammates had left the field. Pitching coach Dave Duncan also yelled something at Cordero.

Cardinals acting manager Joe Pettini said a number of players were yelling from the dugout.

"One of our top players got hit and a lot of guys took offense to it," said Pettini. "You pitch inside but you'd better have a clue when you pitch inside. "They took offense to it, we took offense to it, and the soap opera continues between these guys. It's always something when you come in here."

Pujols, whose wrist apparently is just bruised, said he didn't think Cordero did anything intentional. "I'm sure Francisco wasn't trying to do it on purpose, not with Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman coming up," Pujols said.

The Cardinals entered town 1 1/2 games ahead of the Reds in the National League Central Division and left Cincinnati 1 1/2 games behind. Berkman, who ended a nothing-for-15 slide with a home run, said of the significance of the series, "I don't want to sound trite. There's no significance. We've got 5 1/2 months to play."

The Cardinals' six-game trip, missed by La Russa, who is recovering from a case of shingles, ended up at 2-4 as the Cardinals lost their first series this season since April 8-10.

Some significant numbers: Carpenter lost to the Reds after 10 straight victories against them. Holliday and Pujols went 0-for-9 between them on Sunday.


Manager Tony La Russa, out for the last week as he recovers from a long bout with shingles, is likely to return Monday for the start of a two-game series at home with Philadelphia. "He still has discomfort," said general manager John Mozeliak. But Mozeliak added, "He's likely to be back with us."

RH reliever Eduardo Sanchez, who had four saves in his first four tries before faltering Friday, has been moved out of the closer's role because of recent control issues. RH relievers Mitchell Boggs and Fernando Salas, who have three saves apiece, likely will share the role for a while.

CF Colby Rasmus missed just his second start of the season with a strain below his right rib cage. Rasmus said he felt pain after lifting weights on last Monday's off day. Rasmus said that the pain is most present when he runs or throws. "I'm OK to hit," he said.

LH reliever Trever Miller allowed a two-run double to the first hitter he faced in the seventh, Reds RF Jay Bruce as the Cardinals bullpen failed again Sunday. RH reliever Mitchell Boggs gave up a homer in the ninth. General manager John Mozeliak said he would look elsewhere for relief help if it didn't improve internally. "The answer is 'Yes,'" he said when asked of that possibility. "When you've looked at what's transpired, we're already starting to focus on some clubs that have bullpen help. It's certainly something we have to have the pulse of." Veteran RH reliever Ryan Franklin and LH Trever Miller notably have struggled and Mozeliak said, "Obviously, we're not getting results. This business is about performance."

RF Lance Berkman hit his 11th home run of the season. Three have been hit right-handed by the switch-hitter. Berkman had one home run right-handed last when he smacked 14 for the season with Houston and the New York Yankees. His 22 homers at Great American Ball Park are the most by a visiting player.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4-14 - Cardinals' record when they committed at least one error in a game after they made two Sunday.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I like doing my job and staying out of the way."

- Bench coach Joe Pettini, who recently served as acting manager as Tony La Russa recovered from an illness.



CF Colby Rasmus (right rib cage strain) missed just his second start of the season on May 15. Rasmus said he felt pain after lifting weights on the May 9 off-day. Rasmus said the pain is most present when he runs or throws. "I'm OK to hit," he said.

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 might start a rehab assignment during the week of May 16-22.

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.



Mon., May 16 vs. PHILLIES: Jake Westbrook (2-3, 6.92) vs. Cliff Lee (2-3, 3.78) 6:05 p.m. CDT (ESPN, FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).

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