Cardinals Major League Notebook: 07/23/11

On Friday night at Pittsburgh, Chris Carpenter and Albert Pujols did what stars are expected to do – lead their team to win a big game.


The Cardinals rapped into three double plays Friday night, which is nothing unusual as they all major league teams with 108 in just 99 games.

But it also was business as usual for first baseman Albert Pujols and right-hander Chris Carpenter against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols had been a .387 hitter at PNC Park with 26 career homers -- the most by any visiting player there - before Friday night's game. Then he ripped No. 27 in the first inning and added two doubles and a single for just his second four-hit game of the season in a 6-4 win over Pittsburgh. Pirates left-hander Paul Maholm has been one of Pujols' favorite targets over the years, and he is now 21-for-36 (.583) against him. Pujols got two of his hits against Maholm. He improved his career average at PNC to .393.

Carpenter raised his record against the Pirates to 12-2 with eight sturdy innings. Though Carpenter, pitching more like a staff ace, allowed 10 hits and admittedly didn't have his best stuff, he recorded his sixth victory of the season and fifth in a row since he started 1-7.

"We had a lot of trouble early (in the season) scoring runs for Chris," said Pujols, who also made a couple of good plays on liners to help Carpenter in the field Friday.

As Carpenter is pitching better -- he retired the last seven men he faced -- he also, strangely, is hitting better. He had two hits, including a run-scoring single in the third inning, and has hit safely in three straight games. His RBI was his first since Sept. 10 of last year.

"At bat, you always try to do something," said Carpenter. "All of us on the staff do not want to be automatic outs."

This was the first meeting of the two teams at PNC this year (there are eight more remaining) and enabled the Cardinals to catch the Pirates, who had started the night in first place in the National League Central Division.

"They're in first place and you want to knock those guys down," Pujols said.



RHP Kyle Lohse, who had returned to St. Louis to have an inflamed middle finger on his pitching hand examined, still is scheduled to take his turn against the Pirates on Sunday. He completed a short side session Friday afternoon. Lohse, who wore a split during Friday's game, said there was no renewed discomfort during his bullpen session. "Getting the MRI and receiving the report I got, we were satisfied I wasn't going to do any further damage. It's just inflammation, something that can be treated. I'm good with that diagnosis. After hearing that, I feel I'm good to go," Lohse said.

C Yadier Molina and 3B David Freese both had been in slumps lately, but Molina had three hits Friday and Freese two, with both homering. Molina, whose homer was a 400-foot-plus shot to dead center, had been 1-for-17 and Freese 1-for-18. Molina's homer was off RHP Chris Resop. "I was ready for a fastball and he threw it," Molina said.

The Cardinals' outfielders contributed defensively. CF Jon Jay threw out a runner at third to end the Pirates' second and LF Matt Holliday, though clearly frustrated by a nothing-for-five night, threw out Pirates RF Garrett Jones at second in the midst of five straight Pittsburgh hits in the sixth inning.

Emotions were high right from the start before a packed house. Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan barked something to home-plate umpire Laz Diaz on the first pitch of the game and later, Carpenter, who was at first base, was talked to by the umpires for something they thought he said. Manager Tony La Russa went to first base and appeared to tell the competitive Carpenter that La Russa would handle any further dialog with the umpires.

The Cardinals aren't getting much lately out of SS Ryan Theriot, their leadoff man. Theriot is one for his last 24 and didn't get the ball out of the infield on Friday.

BY THE NUMBERS: 116-64 - Cardinals' record against Pittsburgh since 2000.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You look at all the ball parks. He does it every place he plays. He's phenomenal."

- Manager Tony La Russa on 1B Albert Pujols, a .393 hitter at Pittsburgh's PNC Park.





RHP Kyle Lohse (inflamed middle right finger) left the team July 21 to have an exam in St. Louis. He threw a side session July 22 and is still scheduled to start July 24 at Pittsburgh.

INF Nick Punto (sore right elbow) left the July 16 game. He pinch-hit July 17 but didn't play July 18-19. He played as a reserve July 20, and he started at second base July 21.

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 might return in late 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.


Sat., July 23 vs. PIRATES: Jaime Garcia (9-4, 3.11) vs. Kevin Correia (11-7, 4.04) 6:05 p.m. (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).


<a href='' target='_new' title='La Russa proud of Cardinals' performance'>Video: La Russa proud of Cardinals' performance</a>
Tony TV: Manager Tony La Russa discusses the positives of Friday's 6-4 victory over the Pirates.

<a href='' target='_new' title='Pujols, Carpenter pleased with 6-4 triumph'>Video: Pujols, Carpenter pleased with 6-4 triumph</a>
Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter express their delight after Friday's win against Pittsburgh.

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