The Cardinals probably are facing their first "must" game of the season when they send ace Chris Carpenter, 7-8 but winner of six of his last seven decisions, against Milwaukee ace right-hander Yovani Gallardo, 13-7, in Thursday night's series finale against the Brewers in St. Louis.
So how big is Thursday night's game? "It's more important to view it as we just lost the series," said manager Tony La Russa. "So that's really the No. 1 focus.
"The only thing worse than losing a series is losing all three in the series. But we're still in August and there's still games left. And that's just the truth. There's a lot of baseball ahead.
"But tomorrow's game has the extra significance because they're going to come out and try to sweep us, and it's important for us to survive."
La Russa technically didn't see the end of the game, at least not in person. He was ejected by first-base umpire Greg Gibson in the top of the ninth as the Brewers scored two runs when Gibson ruled that first baseman Albert Pujols, in reaching for a high throw from left-hander Marc Rzepczynski, did not make contact with the bag as Brewers pinch hitter Josh Wilson, the hitter, came down the line.
"He missed the call. He didn't think he missed it," said La Russa. "I say very clearly that had very little with us losing the game. They would have had a two-run lead going into the ninth, and their closer (John Axford) hasn't given up anything. So (Gibson) isn't the reason we got beat.
"But he missed the call. Short fuse. Very undeserved ejection. Let's see how he handles it tomorrow (when Gibson is behind the plate). Let's see if he has a carryover and gets upset and wants to take it out on us."
Related article: "Umpire Gibson's Cardinals run ins continue"
RHP Lance Lynn had to go on the 15-day disabled list, as manager Tony La Russa had feared, because of a strained left oblique muscle suffered in the ninth inning of Wednesday's game. Lynn, who had become a key late inning man as a rookie in the Cardinals' bullpen, could be out a month or more. "You're looking at a significant period of rest, and then you've got to get in shape," La Russa said. "I think we have to try to make the postseason without him, and then you can have a reasonable expectation he can pitch in October."
LF Matt Holliday, who had been a .333 hitter against the Brewers this season, was a late scratch when he felt something in his lower left side as he was stretching in preparing to lift weights on Wednesday afternoon. Holliday figured he wouldn't be out more than a day or two, and manager Tony La Russa said, "I haven't really had anybody come up to me and tell me it was more serious than it was before."
1B Albert Pujols is 1 for his last 28 against the Brewers and 5-for-42 for the season against them although he did knock in the Cardinals' only run with a line-drive sacrifice fly on Wednesday. "Play seven more games (with the Brewers) and see (where the numbers) are," said manager Tony La Russa. "You want to look at his career record against the Brewers? Or so you just want to pick and choose what to highlight?" Pujols said, "It's not about me, it's about the ballclub," Pujols said. "If I go 0-for-8 (which he has in the series) and we would have gotten two wins out there, who cares about it?"
LF Allen Craig made his
first appearance for the Cardinals since June 7, when he suffered a broken right
kneecap running into a fence in
The Cardinals are down to
11 pitchers temporarily as they disabled
RHP Jake Westbrook, though he suffered his sixth loss, worked eight innings, matching his season high. Two of the three runs he allowed came in the third inning after SS Rafael Furcal couldn't apply the tag to Milwaukee LF Ryan Braun on an attempted steal of second. C Yadier Molina made what seemed to be a perfect throw.
BY THE NUMBERS: 13 - Hitting streak for C Yadier Molina, who came back after serving his five-game suspension for an altercation with umpire Rob Drake last week and got a fourth-inning single.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's been a good hitter against everybody, including the Brewers. If you want to bet against him, I'll take the bet."
- Manager Tony La Russa
on 1B Albert Pujols, who is 1 for his last 28 against
INF Nick Punto (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list July 29.
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. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31.
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.
Aug. 11 vs. BREWERS: Chris Carpenter (7-8, 3.75) vs. Yovani Gallardo (13-7,
3.56) 7:15 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports
VIDEO FROM FOXSPORTSMIDWEST.COM
Albert Pujols reflects on his outing, while Tony La Russa and Jake Westbrook discuss the latter's night.