Cardinals Major League Notebook: 07/25/11

The Cardinals missed out on a sweep after a very sloppily-played Sunday loss at Pittsburgh.



The Cardinals suffered their 10th walk-off loss on the road in 27 road defeats Sunday, but this 4-3, 10-inning defeat at Pittsburgh wasn't so much a byproduct of poor relief as it was spotty defense, lack of late-inning clutch hitting and unfortunate baserunning.

The Cardinals committed three errors, including a throwing error in the 10th by catcher Gerald Laird on a steal attempt by Pittsburgh's Xavier Paul, who had beaten out an infield hit to reach base. Shortstop Ryan Theriot, who had another sloppy game in the field, allowed this throw to skip by him and Paul got to third. A sacrifice fly by Pittsburgh third baseman Chase D'Arnaud won the game for the Pirates and knocked the Cardinals out of first place.

Earlier in the 10th, Paul beat right-hander Jason Motte to the bag on a ball Paul had hit behind the bag to first baseman Albert Pujols, who lobbed a throw to Motte covering. Motte should have got to the bag first, but didn't. "It's testament to not making a simple play. It should have been two outs and nobody on," said manager Tony La Russa. "And we wound up losing the game."

The Cardinals, who did not have a hit in eight at-bats with men in scoring position, had a runner at second with one out or no outs in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings and did score any of those runners.

One of the errors was by second baseman Skip Schumaker, who has had just two this season. Theriot, on the other hand, has 16, and has shown little range or arm.

The bottom of the 10th marked the only time in the three-game series that the Cardinals had trailed.

"We did some fundamental things right. We also did some fundamental things wrong," said La Russa. "And we wound up losing the game."

Laird said, "For the most part, we've got to play better fundamental baseball. We've got to get the bunts down; we've got to cut down on the errors. In a close game like that, you've got to execute small ball and we didn't make the plays."



RHP Kyle Lohse, who had a finger inflammation which bothered him in his last start, went five innings, giving up just two runs before the Cardinals pinch-hit for him in the sixth. Lohse didn't walk anyone and fanned four but manager Tony La Russa noted Lohse had allowed opposing RHP Charlie Morton to hit a deep sacrifice fly with a man at third and one out in the fifth as the Pirates tied the game. And La Russa added that Lohse had trouble recently going through a lineup for the third time. "We had a fresh (bull)pen," said La Russa.

CF Colby Rasmus, who had been hitting .182 for the last nine weeks, had a strong game with his 10th homer, a single and a hard out to right field. He hadn't started since Wednesday.

C Gerald Laird executed well with a sacrifice fly and a sacrifice bunt. Until the eighth inning, that is. That's when Laird, after a leadoff double, got caught off second as he was looking to advance on a potential sacrifice attempt by 3B Daniel Descalso, who did not make contact with the pitch and then Laird was picked off by Pirates C Eric Fryer.

"That's not (Laird's) fault," said La Russa, who instead faulted Descalso for not bunting at a pitch in the strike zone. "Daniel's one of our best fundamental players." Laird called his being picked off "inexcusable," but said Descalso had "kind of caught me off guard and bunted right through the ball."

The Cardinals completed their fourth and final three-city trip of the season. They were 4-5 on this one, winning just one series (the Pittsburgh series) out of three.

3B Daniel Descalso kept the Pirates' seventh inning from being an even bigger one than one run when he made a diving stop to his left and then started a double play. The rookie has been the club's best defensive infielder this season, including at SS, where he rarely had played before.

RHP Kyle McClellan, still looking to keep the ball down more, will make his ninth bid for his seventh win Monday night when he faces Houston. He has not won a game since he hurt his hip in late May.

C Yadier Molina, LF Matt Holliday and 3B David Freese were given the day off Sunday. Manager Tony La Russa said it was a normal day off for Molina and Holliday but Freese had nagging leg pain and he hoped Freese could return Monday.

BY THE NUMBERS: 26 - Number of road games left for the Cardinals, who have 35 remaining at home.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You don't play perfect all the time. Nobody does."

- Manager Tony La Russa, after his team played sloppily in losing to Pittsburgh on Sunday.





3B David Freese (leg) was given July 24 off due to nagging leg pain, but manager Tony La Russa said he hoped he could return July 25.

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 made his start July 24 at Pittsburgh.

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 began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Memphis on July 23, and he might return around Aug. 1.

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.


Mon., July 25 vs. ASTROS: Kyle McClellan (6-6, 4.34) vs. J.A. Happ (4-11, 5.88) 7:15 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).


<a href='' target='_new' title='La Russa: 'Nobody plays perfect''>Video: La Russa: 'Nobody plays perfect'</a>
Tony TV: The Cards skipper sounds off after failing to sweep the Pirates in Sunday's 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh.

<a href='' target='_new' title='Laird on 4-3 loss to Pirates'>Video: Laird on 4-3 loss to Pirates</a>
Gerald Laird details the missed opportunities that led to the tough loss in Pittsburgh.

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