Cardinals Major League Notebook: 05/25/11

Daniel Descalso provided the game-winning hit for the second consecutive night on Tuesday as the Cardinals defeated the Padres in San Diego.

INSIDE PITCH

 

The Cardinals reached one of manager Tony La Russa's checklist milestones Tuesday night. They got to 10 games over .500 with a 3-2, 11-inning win over San Diego. And they got there in highly unusual fashion.

The offensive hero was a .223-hitting third baseman, Daniel Descalso, who from the seventh inning on becomes twice the hitter he normally is. Descalso, whose single won the game in the 11th inning, has driven in nine runs from the seventh inning on with the game tied or the Cardinals down a run.

"We call him D-Money," cracked La Russa.

The Cardinals won with a catcher, Tony Cruz, who started last season in Class A. Cruz got three hits in his first big-league game -- the first Cardinal to get three hits in his debut since third baseman Terry Pendleton in 1984.

"He caught well. He blocked balls," said La Russa. "He's at a nice level now, and he should get better."

La Russa inserted Cruz into the lineup on his second day in the majors to help Cruz get through his first case of nerves. Cruz had been summoned to replace catcher Gerald Laird, who suffered a broken right index finger on Sunday.

"This is a dream come true," said Cruz, 24, who grew up just a few miles from the Cardinals' spring training facility in Jupiter, Fla. "It's what you play for as a little kid."

The Cardinals also won with a starting pitcher, Kyle McClellan, who was a reliever for his first three big-league seasons. McClellan remained at 6-1 but didn't give up an earned run and allowed just two hits in six innings.

"And," said La Russa, "he deserves extra credit. He's pitching to a rookie catcher and he's got to run his own game."

The Cardinals also won with a closer, Eduardo Sanchez, who began last year in Class AA. And a left fielder, Lance Berkman, who hadn't played there in five years until recently. Berkman made a spectacular sno-cone diving catch at the foul line in the 11th inning.

"If that ball falls, who knows where it bounces?" said La Russa.

NOTES AND QUOTES

1B Albert Pujols insisted he experienced little sense of relief over his home run on Monday, snapping a homerless dry spell of 105 at-bats. "I can care less about numbers. I don't care what people say and people write," Pujols said. "The media takes it to another level. If you think about hitting home runs, you're in trouble. Focus on quality at-bats and what the guy's doing at the plate instead of getting caught up in stupid numbers."

RHP Miguel Batista picked up his third win on Tuesday, Batista worked two scoreless innings after allowing four of the last five men he had faced to reach in his two most recent outings.

Batista, LHP Trever Miller, RHP Jason Motte and RHP Eduardo Sanchez pitched five hitless innings of relief, marking the first time a Cardinals staff had done that since 2004—the last year Rick Ankiel was a pitcher.

SS Ryan Theriot continued his erratic fielding, committing a throwing error - his 10th miscue of the season - leading to two runs in the first inning.

3B Daniel Descalso's game-winning hit was his second in two nights in San Diego. "I messed up a bunt play (he bunted into a forceout in the ninth), so I'm glad we got away with a win," said Descalso, who Monday's game with a ninth-inning single.

LF Matt Holliday, who has been leading the league in batting average, sat out a second straight start with a strained left quadriceps and probably won't start on Wednesday, either, with an off day Thursday before the Cardinals play at Colorado on Friday.

BY THE NUMBERS: .040 - CF Colby Rasmus' average over his last 25 at-bats (one hit).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "My job is to help this team win. It's not to go up there thinking about hitting the ball out of the ball park."

- 1B Albert Pujols, who hadn't homered in a month until Monday night.

ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

LF Matt Holliday (tight left quadriceps) left the May 22 game and did not play May 23 or 24. He is expected to sit out the May 25 game as well and, after an off day for the team, possibly return May 27.

C Gerald Laird (broken right index finger) was injured May 22. He was placed on the disabled list May 23 and will be out until July.

INF Nick Punto (right forearm flexor strain) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18.

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.

RHP Bryan Augenstein (strained right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list April 13. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 16.

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

 

Wed., May 25 at PADRES: Chris Carpenter (1-4, 4.88) vs. Mat Latos (1-6, 4.60) 5:35 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).


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