Cardinals Major League Notebook: 07/26/11

Kyle McClellan collected his first win in nine tries as the Cardinals defeated Houston Monday night at Busch Stadium.



Winless for more than two months, right-hander Kyle McClellan found a familiar opponent Monday night -- left-hander J.A. Happ and the Houston Astros.

McClellan had made eight futile attempts at winning his seventh game of the season, including five straight losses since he had beaten Houston and Happ in St. Louis, 4-2. on May 19. But when Happ and the Astros showed up at Busch Stadium, McClellan's losing streak was over in a 10-5 triumph over Happ, who is 0-4 against the Cardinals this season.

Catcher Yadier Molina, fresh after a day off on Sunday, had three hits and homered for a third straight start besides throwing out a runner trying to steal. Center fielder Colby Rasmus, enjoying a second straight good performance, homered for the second game in succession -- and drove in three runs besides making a critical diving catch in the eighth inning.

Molina tied his career high in homers at eight. In his first full season, 2005, Molina also hit eight homers. In the intervening five seasons, Molina hit six, six, seven, six and six homers, respectively.

"I've got the same approach," said Molina. "Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. Hopefully it will be more (homers) this year."

Manager Tony La Russa's approach might have changed a bit, though. Possessing three catchers now, he gave Molina a day off in each stop on the recent three-city trip.

"He works so hard," said La Russa. "If I give him a rest once in awhile, it helps."

In past years, Molina has resisted taking days off, but the recent heat wave has not only taken its toll, it has softened his stance.

"You always want to be part of the everyday game. But like I told my wife, 'Sometimes, you've got to take a step back and take a day off, get your mind right and get your body to rest,' " said Molina.

McClellan said he had kept his mind right by talking to the more veteran starters in the rotation during his travail. "Today I felt like I was able to keep control of the game where, in other games, it kind of got away from me," McClellan said.



Manager Tony La Russa probably shouldn't let RHP P.J. Walters face Houston 1B Carlos Lee anymore. Lee hit a grand slam against Walters in the eighth inning Monday. In the only other at-bat Lee had against Walters, in 2009, the result also was a grand slam.

RF Lance Berkman, who had appeared in 40 games in succession, sat out Monday, resting a mild right rotator cuff strain (non-throwing arm) he had suffered when reaching for an outside pitch on Sunday. An X-ray revealed nothing wrong, "I don't anticipate it being more than a day or two. I'd like to give it a day just to calm down."

While Cardinals outfielders didn't have any appreciable difficulty, Houston outfielders slipped several times on the new grass laid down at Busch Stadium after a U2 concert on July 17 had torn up the field. "Is it going to play perfect? No, it's not going to play like it's been down for a year," said head groundskeeper Bill Findley. "But we did everything we could possibly do in the time that we had."

RHP Adam Wainwright, recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery performed in February, is throwing on flat ground from 60 feet, 6 inches three times a week for a total of 75 tosses each time. Wainwright, who is slated to throw off a mound in September, said, "I don't feel like I've got a brand new, ready-to-go arm. But I feel like I've got a brand new one. It's definitely going to be a little harder than I thought. But I'm going to keep on keeping on."

OF/INF Allen Craig, recovering from a broken right kneecap suffered on June 7, went 1-for-5 in his first two rehabilitation games for Class AAA Memphis and then didn't play on Monday. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he heard Craig's progress was "rusty," and he expected that Craig would be on rehab another week or longer.

2B/OF Skip Schumaker made a diving catch as a reserve outfielder in the eighth inning and also drove in a run with a single. He has hit .341 since June 4, raising his average to .284. Schumaker also has made only three errors and has drawn praise from manager Tony La Russa for his ability to turn the double play and use his strong arm to his advantage.

BY THE NUMBERS: 3-0, 4-6 - RHP Kyle McClellan's record against Houston and his record vs. the rest of the National League.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There's been games where I've let the big inning kill me."

- RHP Kyle McClellan, who had given up three or more runs in an inning in four of his five defeats during a losing streak that ended on Monday.





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 figures to return after 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.


Tues., July 26 vs. ASTROS: Jake Westbrook (8-4, 5.04) vs. Brett Myers (3-10, 4.74) 7:15 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).


<a href='' target='_new' title='La Russa on win against Astros'>Video: La Russa on win against Astros</a>
Tony TV: Hear from Cardinals manager Tony La Russa following the 10-5 win against Houston Monday night.

<a href='' target='_new' title='Molina, McClellan lift Cardinals to 10-5 win'>Video: Molina, McClellan lift Cardinals to 10-5 win</a>
Yadier Molina and Kyle McClellan sound off on the offense in the win against Houston Monday night.

<a href='' target='_new' title='GM on Berkman, Trade deadline'>Video: GM on Berkman, Trade deadline</a>
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak talks about Lance Berkman's injury as well as the trade deadline.

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