Cardinals Major League Notebook: 07/02/11

Jake Westbrook and Colby Rasmus led the Cards to a series-opening win at Tampa Bay Friday night.



Right-hander Jake Westbrook had been one of the worst pitchers in the majors as far as allowing base runners. In his first 86 1/3 innings, he had given up 107 hits and 36 walks with a 5.32 earned run average despite a 6-4 won-lost record.

Westbrook was nothing like that on Friday. Mixing a killer sinker with a good changeup and cutter, Westbrook not only fanned seven hitters but also limited Tampa Bay to just two hits and no runs over seven innings in a 5-3 Cardinals victory.

After Westbrook had thrown 112 pitches, he was lifted, and right-handed rookie Lance Lynn had a misstep by allowing three runs in the bottom of the eighth.

"(Lynn) looked a little more excited today," said manager Tony La Russa.

Fortunately, for the Cardinals and Westbrook, center fielder Colby Rasmus had added on three runs in the top of the eighth with his third homer in four games on this trip.

Rasmus has only three hits on the trip but he has made them count.

"I've changed a few things in my swing," said Rasmus, who noted that he had been keeping his hands and weight back better. "It's working so far, so I'm going to try to stay with it."

The third-year player did allow, however, I'd like to get some more base hits in there."

As Rasmus circled the bases, his victim, left-handed reliever J. P. Howell, went ballistic on the field. Howell, slamming down his glove and then a new ball, let home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza know he didn't concur with some of Carapazza's decisions earlier in the inning as he issued two walks on full-count pitches. Howell was ejected. Rasmus said he didn't notice.

"Colby's got so much talent," said La Russa. "He's got the kind of swing that, if he repeats it, he should be a .300 hitter. What a huge asset he could be."

Westbrook was pitching on six days' rest, which might have been beneficial. "He had command of his delivery, his emotions and his concentration," La Russa said. "He was outstanding."


RHP Jake Westbrook hadn't pitched past the sixth inning in five of his last six starts before Friday, but he retired the last 12 men he faced as he completed seven innings. In Westbrook's other start in an American League park this year, the longtime American Leaguer hurled eight scoreless innings at Kansas City on May 21.

The Cardinals played some small ball in the second inning, scoring one run on a groundout and another as third-base coach Jose Oquendo waved home 3B David Freese from second on C Yadier Molina's single after Tampa Bay CF David Upton had dropped his arm and thrown to second. Upton apparently thought Freese, who had delayed in going to third, already had scored. Freese hit safely for the fourth straight game after coming off the disabled list (broken left hand). The Cardinals have won all four.

RH reliever Fernando Salas gained his second save in two nights, although manager Tony La Russa had hoped not to have to use Salas.

2B Skip Schumaker extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a fifth-inning single. Schumaker's career high is 12, established in 2009.

LF Matt Holliday was feeling ill before the game, so La Russa installed Holliday as his designated hitter, in essence, giving Holliday half a game off. Holliday was 1-for-5 but hit three other balls hard for outs, including two made on diving plays by Tampa Bay fielders.

   BY THE NUMBERS: 6 - Number of four-game winning streaks for the Cardinals after a win on Friday.

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's not all that relaxing. But looking back at it, it's always fun. One of the highlights of my career was in 2004 and the derby in Houston."

- OF/1B Lance Berkman on the possibility he might be asked to compete in the All-Star Game home run derby.





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.

C Gerald Laird (broken right index finger) went on the 15-day disabled list May 23.

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.



Sat., July 2 at RAYS: Kyle McClellan (6-4, 4.02) vs. Jeff Niemann (2-4, 5.58) 6:10 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).

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