Cardinals Major League Notebook: 06/29/11

In a rain-interrupted outing, Kyle Lohse picked up just the fourth win by a Cardinals starter since June 3 on Tuesday night as St. Louis took the series opener in Baltimore.

INSIDE PITCH

 

Manager Tony La Russa wasn't necessarily expecting instant results from previously disabled infielders David Freese and Nick Punto. He was satisfied for the moment just to have better balance in his lineup and on his bench with them back.

"We're better on paper," La Russa said. "The key is how much and how soon (Freese and Punto contribute)."

As it turned out, they helped right away. Each had two hits, including a triple by Punto, as the Cardinals stopped a slide in which they had lost five of six and 12 of 15 by winning at Baltimore 6-2.

The Cardinals also got a rare good outing by one of their starters as right-hander Kyle Lohse (8-4), winning for the first time since May 29, blanked the Orioles on four hits in five innings before coming out after a 28-minute rain delay.

And they got another strong relief outing by right-hander Lance Lynn, who had been a starter for Class AAA Memphis and also earlier this month for the Cardinals. Lynn, throwing his fastball at 94 mph, struck out five in two scoreless innings and right-hander Fernando Salas fanned two in the ninth.

Lynn has had two straight good relief outings and La Russa said, "That's one of the best things that's happened to our pitching staff all year long."

Lohse's win was only the fourth by a Cardinals starter -- Lynn had one of them -- since June 3. It also ended a six-game road losing streak.

"He was painting all night long," said La Russa, who added that he pulled Lohse after the rain delay because Lohse probably had only one more inning left and the heart of the Baltimore lineup was up in the sixth.

Lohse, who used his curveball more than he had been, wanted to come back after the delay, but he said, "It's a long season. The wear and tear you can save on yourself now can help you down the line."

Left fielder Matt Holliday and center fielder Colby Rasmus both homered. La Russa also commended the left-handed-hitting Rasmus for drawing a key walk off Baltimore left-hander Zach Britton in the three-run second. Then, Rasmus homered off Britton in the sixth.

"That was a money swing," said La Russa. "If he can swing like that, he'll realize his potential."

NOTES, QUOTES

General manager John Mozeliak, traveling with the team to Baltimore, was blunt in assessing his team's performance lately. "We're just not playing winning baseball," he said. "Things have to get better."

3B David Freese and INF Nick Punto, playing their first games in eight and six weeks, respectively, each had two hits in the 6-2 victory over Baltimore. Freese had been out with a broken left hand and Punto with a right forearm strain.

3B David Freese, playing for the first time since May 1, said he was surprised to be pulled after six innings but noted, with a smile, that "the lineup cards are in (La Russa's) drawer." Freese, excited to be back, said, "Even during (batting practice), I was telling myself to calm myself down a little bit."

Hitting coach Mark McGwire, talking about his team's first exposure to home run haven Camden Yards, had hoped his hitters instead would "hit the ball right at the pitcher's chest." Indeed, in the second inning, DH Mark Hamilton and SS Ryan Theriot both delivered two-out, run-scoring singles on balls hit back up the middle.

RHP Ryan Franklin retired just one of four hitters in the eighth inning, and the Cardinals may be close to making a decision on what to do with him. "I think there's a creative answer out there for us," said manager Tony La Russa. It is not known if Franklin has some sort of injury and could be disabled.

   BY THE NUMBERS: 9 - Number of homers allowed in 27 2/3 innings by RHP Ryan Franklin.

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm just worried about him mentally. He's having some tough outcomes. Whether it's coaches or teammates or anybody watching our club, nobody suffers more than he does."

- Manager Tony La Russa, discussing struggling RHP Franklin.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

MEDICAL WATCH:

INF Nick Punto (right forearm flexor strain) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Springfield on June 20, and he was activated June 28.

3B David Freese (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list May 2. He had surgery May 3. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Memphis on June 21, and he was activated June 28.

RHP Eduardo Sanchez (mild right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13. He is unlikely to return before mid-July.

1B Albert Pujols (sprained left wrist) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 20. Pujols was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of the radius bone in his left forearm, and he will be out until late July or early August.

OF Allen Craig (broken right kneecap) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 8. He will be out until July.

C Gerald Laird (broken right index finger) went on the 15-day disabled list May 23. He will be out until July.

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. He was scheduled to play catch on flat ground in late June.

NEXT GAME

 

Wed., June 29 at ORIOLES: Chris Carpenter (2-7, 4.26) vs. Chris Jakusbauskas (2-0, 5.18) 6:05 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).


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