There was some excellent relief by the Cardinals' bullpen Friday but also equal parts bad relief. And, despite the two-run homer, potentially a game-winner, by first baseman Albert Pujols in the eighth inning off Cincinnati left-hander Aroldis Chapman, the Cardinals fell in the ninth, 6-5, when right-hander Fernando Salas was solved for a two-run game-winner with two out by Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips.
The up-and-down work by the bullpen suggested again that the club probably will have to do something to better it by the July 31 trading deadline.
The first relief was bad as left-hander Raul Valdes allowed hits to both left-handed batters he faced in the sixth inning. The next relief effort was sterling as right-handed rookie P.J. Walters, after walking his first man in the sixth, pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out spot.
Bad and good: Left-hander Trever Miller allowed a run-scoring double by in the seventh by Reds first baseman Joey Votto but then fanned left-handed hitting right fielder Jay Bruce with the bases loaded. Right-hander Jason Motte got third baseman Scott Rolen to hit into a double play started by Motte to end the inning.
Good: Right-handed rookie Lance Lynn, the new setup man, pitched a perfect 1-2-3 eighth to preserve the lead given to the Cardinals by the homer from the hot-hitting Pujols, who had been robbed of another by center fielder Chris Heisey in the first inning.
Bad: Salas, who had saved 16 games in 18 chances, retired two of the first three hitters he faced in the ninth, but one was on a line drive and the other on a strikeout where he missed his spot.
Then Phillips, the player Cardinals love to hate, jumped on a down-the-middle fastball on a 1-0 count -- he said he was looking for a breaking ball -- and the game was over. The save was the 16th blown save for the Cardinals, who squandered two late leads Friday.
"The bullpen was good at times," said manager Tony La Russa. "At times, we didn't (to the job."
RHP Eduardo Sanchez, the
primary setup man, has been shut down for at least six weeks after Sanchez
experienced renewed shoulder discomfort following a two-inning appearance for
Class AA Springfield earlier this week. Sanchez, who briefly held the closer's
role in May, was to return to
OF/INF Allen Craig, out six weeks with a broken right kneecap, has begun a rehabilitation assignment at Class AAA Memphis. Craig will continue a workout program for about a week before beginning game activity next week, according to manager Tony La Russa.
RHP Jake Westbrook can't get Cincinnati CF Chris Heisey out to open a game—or at other times, either. For the second time in 10 days, Westbrook gave up a first-inning, leadoff homer to Heisey. Then, in the fifth, Heisey hit another solo homer off a curveball, which is not Westbrook's best pitch. Those were the only two runs Westbrook allowed in five innings. Westbrook was pulled for a pinch hitter in the sixth inning after throwing just 82 pitches. The Cardinals were down 2-0, and manager Tony La Russa said, "We've got to score some runs. We had a good pinch hitter in Jon Jay. We were trying to make something happen."
CF Colby Rasmus, whose average is down to .243, endured another hitless night but at least hit three balls hard. Rasmus, however, fanned with two runners on in the ninth inning when the Cardinals had a chance to add to their 5-4 lead.
La Russa used seven
relievers in a nine-inning game, the most he had employed in regulation this
season. RHP Kyle McClellan, moved to the rotation this season after three years
in the bullpen, would have been the extra-innings reliever, La Russa said.
McClellan's first start of the second half isn't until Wednesday in
One thing that upset La Russa was losing two runners on the bases. SS Ryan Theriot was picked off first in the sixth, and INF Nick Punto, with a bunt play on, was thrown out stealing in the ninth. The Cardinals didn't score in either inning. "We made a couple of baserunning mistakes," said La Russa. "Hard to believe by the guys who made them."
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 for 11 - Cardinals' performance with runners in scoring position Friday. The only hit was a go-ahead, run-scoring, pinch-hit single by rookie Tony Cruz in the seventh.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I guess it's a step in the right direction."
- RHP Jake Westbrook, who gave up two home runs, but only two runs, in five innings after several rocky starts.
LHP Brian Tallet (strained right intercostal muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4. He was injured while sneezing.
RHP Eduardo Sanchez (mild right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Springfield on July 7 but had renewed soreness soon after and was shut down until late August or early September.
OF Allen Craig (broken right kneecap) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 8. He has begun a rehab assignment at Class AAA Memphis.
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.
July 16 vs. REDS: Chris Carpenter (4-7, 3.85) vs. Bronson Arroyo (7-7, 5.58)
6:10 P.M. CDT (FOX
VIDEO FROM FOXSPORTSMIDWEST.COM
Tony TV: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa speaks after the 6-5 loss to the Reds.
Jake Westbrook shares his thoughts on his performance during the loss against the Reds.