Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/18/11

After two losses, the Cardinals salvaged a final-game win in Pittsburgh Thursday night as Allen Craig and Kyle Lohse led the way.



Right-hander Kyle Lohse finally has won consecutive starts for the first time since he captured three in a row in late May, and he also drove in a run for the second game in succession Wednesday night.

But the big news was right fielder Allen Craig. Getting a rare start, he hit two homers in a game for the first time in his two-season career and tacked on two other hits as the Cardinals rolled the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-2.

Subbing for Lance Berkman, Craig hit a two-run homer in the first and a solo homer in the fifth and also doubled and singled for the first four-hit game of his career.

Craig had been hitless in 11 at-bats since June 5, nine of them this month, as he labored to come back from a fractured right kneecap suffered in Houston, including a rehabilitation stint at Class AAA Memphis. He also helped out defensively in the first inning Wednesday, catching a blooper off the bat of Pirates right fielder Ryan Ludwick with the bases loaded.

Manager Tony La Russa, discussing the possibility of getting Craig's bat into the lineup with more regularity, even spoke of having him play center field in some smaller ball parks, perhaps even Wrigley Field in Chicago this weekend.

"So don't be surprised if (it's) the right ballpark and the right time and you want to keep Lance in there, he could play center field," said La Russa. "When (Craig) is running normally, he could. I want to make sure he's running normally."

After Wednesday's game, La Russa said, "I've watched him when he's healthy. The guy's already proven he deserves some playing time, but now we're healthy and we're deep and it's not easy."

The Cardinals do not have a right-handed hitting center fielder. Jon Jay, Corey Patterson and Skip Schumaker all are left-handed batters.



RHP Kyle Lohse, en route to his staff-high 11th win, drove in a key run with a groundout in the sixth after nearly being low-bridged by a high inside pitch from Pittsburgh reliever Brad Lincoln while Lohse was trying to bunt. Pitching coach Dave Duncan and manager Tony La Russa thought Lohse got an extra jolt of energy from Lincoln's pitch, and Lohse, indeed, did set down the final eight men he faced besides driving in the run. But Lohse said, "I was already awake. There's not really any need for coming up and in like that. I've had enough of guys coming up and in on me (he was hit in the right forearm by a pitch from Kansas City's Ron Mahay two years ago). I thought it was interesting that a guy from the bullpen who's never going to hit does that kind of stuff. He never has to worry about it."

While La Russa is pondering how more to employ RF Allen Craig, who had two homers among four hits Wednesday night, he even has been talking about Craig being a possible right-handed-hitting option in center field, where the Cardinals have three left-handed hitters—Jon Jay, Corey Patterson and Skip Schumaker. With Shumaker and Ryan Theriot both available to play second base, Craig isn't likely to be playing any more there although he had eight starts at second earlier in the season. Discussing Craig's efforts at that position, La Russa said, "We had a winning record, didn't we? And I don't think he made any errors, although he almost got killed on a couple of double plays." The Cardinals were 6-2 in Craig's eight starts at second, none of which he finished there, and he didn't make any errors.

On the heels of 1B Albert Pujols reaching 30 homers for the 11th straight season, extending his own record from the start of his career, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum asked for memorabilia, and apparently a Pujols bat and batting gloves are on the way to Cooperstown, N.Y. Though the record already was Pujols', the homer nonetheless was a milestone. "I think the thing that makes it high, high on the charts," said La Russa, "is that he's, whatever he is, a .320 (actually .328) lifetime hitter. That's what hitting is. Hitting is hitting well over .300 year after year after year. The fact that he does that with home runs shows you the type of stroke he has—that enables him to hit balls that have carry."

C Yadier Molina swiped second base uncontested in the eighth inning Wednesday. It was third theft of the year. He also had three hits but said the highlight, for him, was the win. Molina, at .297, is bidding for his second .300 season. "Everybody wants to hit .300," he said. "But everything right now is about the wins. If we get the wins, everything else doesn't matter."

The Cardinals scored seven runs despite going 3-for-16 with men in scoring position. They were 7-for-39 in that department for the three-game series with Pittsburgh and lost the first two games.

BY THE NUMBERS: 13 - Times RHP Chris Carpenter has fanned 10 or more as a Cardinal, which he did on Tuesday, tying LHP Steve Carlton for second on the Cardinals' list. RHP Bob Gibson leads with 74 such instances.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm slightly behind Bob Gibson in a lot of things. And 'slightly' is not the right word."

- Carpenter, joking about his second-place standing behind the Hall of Famer in double-figure strikeout games.




RHP Edwin Jackson (right hamstring cramp) left his Aug. 14 start early but said the next day that it isn't a problem. Jackson will have an extra day of rest before his next scheduled start Aug. 20 in Chicago.

RHP Lance Lynn (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 10.

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.


Thu., Aug 18: DAY OFF

Fri., Aug. 19 at CUBS: Jaime Garcia (10-6, 3.42) vs. Randy Wells (4-4, 5.90) 1:20 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).


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Allen Craig, Kyle Lohse and Tony La Russa sound off on Wednesday's 7-2 thrashing of Pittsburgh.

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