Cardinals Major League Notebook: 07/29/11

The Cardinals lost to Houston at home again Thursday evening, falling into third place and suffering three injuries.



The Cardinals suffered a 5-3 loss to Houston on Thursday night, but perhaps more important, they suffered some attrition.

Catchers Gerald Laird and Tony Cruz both were knocked out of the game. Laird suffered a strained left ring finger. Cruz had bruises on his right thumb and a finger on his right hand.

However, infielder Nick Punto might be hurt more seriously than either of the catchers. Punto suffered a strained left oblique muscle and had to come out after three innings.

Tony La Russa said there could be a different reading on Punto in 24 hours, but the manager suggested that the Cardinals might bring in a player or two from Class AAA Memphis to be on hand Friday in case any of the aforementioned has to be disabled.

The Cardinals, who slipped to third place in the NL Central, 1 1/2 games behind Milwaukee, squandered a big opportunity against the Astros, the team with the worst record in baseball.

The Cardinals won the first two games of a four-game series and then lost the last two, which were started by right-handed ace Chris Carpenter and left-handed ace Jaime Garcia, who wasn't very good Thursday in giving up five runs (four earned) in six innings.

"He was OK," La Russa said. "He certainly didn't stink up the joint but he wasn't as good as he usually is."



RHP Edwin Jackson, acquired Wednesday in a three-team deal, will make his first Cardinals start Friday against the Cubs. Jackson then would face NL Central-leading Milwaukee in his next two starts. He was 7-7 with a 3.92 ERA in 19 starts for the White Sox this season.

When 3B David Freese grounded into a double play to cut short a third-inning rally Thursday, the Cardinals still had a 3-1 lead against the Astros. They wouldn't get another runner on base, as their last 19 hitters (worth 20 outs) were retired by Houston pitchers. Incredibly, not even one ball reached an outfielder.

LHP Marc Rzepczynski and RHP Octatio Dotel, both acquired from Toronto on Wednesday, made their Cardinals debuts Thursday. Dotel threw a scoreless ninth after Rzepczynski, nicknamed "Scrabble," fanned four in two scoreless innings. "I thought (Rzepczynski) had an impressive array of pitches, and they were all quality as far as I was concerned," manager Tony La Russa said.

RF Lance Berkman, who took a cortisone shot in his sore right shoulder Wednesday, had a bat in his hand and was in the on-deck circle in the ninth inning. But he was window dressing. "He's not going to swing (yet)," manager Tony La Russa said. Berkman isn't likely to be ready until Saturday. RHP Kyle Lohse, pinch-hitting, made the final out of the game on a groundout.

LHP Jaime Garcia has a 24-14 big-league record but he has had no success against Houston. In four career starts against Houston, Garcia is 0-3 with a 5.91 ERA. He allowed five runs (four earned) in six innings Thursday vs. the Astros.

LHP Raul Valdes was optioned to Class AAA Memphis to clear a roster spot for newly acquired LHP Marc Rzepczynski. In seven outings with the Cardinals, Valdes was 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA. He hadn't pitched since July 19.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1,998 - Career hits for 1B Albert Pujols after he doubled twice Thursday.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "If he does that every time he plays, he'll be a big help."

- Manager Tony La Russa, on RF Corey Patterson, who had an RBI single and made a good catch Thursday during his Cardinals debut.





C Gerald Laird (strained left ring finger) left the July 27 game. The extent of the injury wasn't immediately known.

C Tony Cruz (bruised right hand) left the July 27 game. The extent of the injury wasn't immediately known.

INF Nick Punto (strained left oblique) left the July 27 game. The extent of the injury wasn't immediately known.

RF Lance Berkman (strained right shoulder) did not play July 27-28. He got a cortisone shot July 27, and he is unlikely to return before July 30.

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.


Fri., July 29 vs. CUBS: Edwin Jackson (7-7, 3.92) vs. Matt Garza (4-7, 3.72) 7:15 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).


<a href='' target='_new' title='La Russa on 5-3 loss'>Video: La Russa on 5-3 loss</a>
Tony TV: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa shares his thoughts following the loss to the Astros Thursday night.

<a href='' target='_new' title='Cardinals drop second straight to Astros'>Video: Cardinals drop second straight to Astros</a>
Tony Cruz, Nick Punto and Marc Rzepczynski share their thoughts after Thursday's loss to Houston.

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