Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/01/11

The Cards took game two in Milwaukee Wednesday night behind Jake Westbrook's pitching... and hitting.

INSIDE PITCH

 

The Cardinals' fourth inning at Milwaukee on Wednesday night will go down as one of the strangest of the season.

It started when the first two batters, third baseman David Freese and right fielder Lance Berkman, both were hit by pitches. It continued when catcher Yadier Molina hit a drive off the wall in right-center, but that is where it began to get weird.

Freese, breaking late from second when he couldn't tell whether the ball would be caught, had to be stopped at third. But Berkman roared around second heading for third before applying the brakes, and Molina nearly was at second when Freese was halted. Berkman got back to second easily, but Molina, exasperated that he had driven in nobody with his hit, had to scramble back to first, barely making it.

With the score tied at 2-2, it appeared the inning would blow up on the Cardinals when second baseman Ryan Theriot, the No. 8 hitter, bounced into a forceout at home. That brought up pitcher Jake Westbrook, hitting .098. But the capper to the bizarre inning came when Westbrook lined his first career homer, a grand slam, to left, off left-hander Randy Wolf, and the Cardinals were on their way to an 8-3 win, their second in succession over the division-leading Brewers.

"I couldn't believe it," said manager Tony La Russa of Westbrook's clout.

Westbrook said, "It's pretty special. To go back and say you've hit a grand slam in the big leagues is a lot of fun."

The Cardinals have had three of the last four grand slams hit by pitchers, one in each of the last three seasons by Chris Carpenter, Brad Penny and now Westbrook.

"There was some bizarre-ness," said La Russa. "I'm glad it settled down."

While Westbrook was efficient for five innings in gaining his 11th win, the Cardinals' bullpen was brilliant again, with four scoreless innings turned in by Kyle McClellan, Marc Rzepczynski and Jason Motte, who knocked off his 19th straight scoreless appearance and 31st in a row without allowing an earned run.

The overall star was shortstop Rafael Furcal, who started the game with his 28th career leadoff homer and his third homer as a Cardinal, all against Milwaukee this month. Furcal also drove in a run with a single, but his best work was done on defense: He had nine assists, his most in eight years, besides a scintillating over-the-shoulder, back-to-the-infield catch of a pop fly. "He's fun to watch, unless you're on the other side," said La Russa.

Furcal hasn't been hitting much since coming over from Los Angeles a month ago, but he said, "You can't be thinking of what you're doing at bat. You've got to play defense to win."

The veteran Furcal has been outstanding enough on defense that the Cardinals have to think about bringing him back for next season despite his lack of offense so far and his history of injuries.

Boxscore

NOTES, QUOTES

1B Albert Pujols still is hitting only .113 (6-for-53) against Milwaukee this season. But he got one hit Wednesday, his 32nd homer, in the first inning, in five at-bats.

RHP Adam Wainwright, continuing his rehabilitation from Tommy John elbow surgery in February, threw 20 pitches off the mound in the bullpen before the game. Wainwright won't pitch this season but is on target to be ready for next spring training.

RHP Kyle Lohse spent Wednesday's game in the bullpen; manager Tony La Russa has decided Lohse will not start again until Tuesday against Milwaukee. Lohse was on target to pitch Sunday at home against Cincinnati, but La Russa has moved RHP Edwin Jackson into that start so that Jackson, who beat the Brewers on Monday, won't pitch four times against Milwaukee in five weeks' time. Lohse, who gained his 100th career win Sunday, had two starts of three innings in August and had a 5.92 earned run average for the month.

CF Allen Craig came out after only four innings and three at-bats. Craig, normally a corner outfielder, usually plays an inning or so longer in center but came up limping a bit in the bottom of the third while sliding after missing a drive hit by Milwaukee LF Ryan Braun, who ultimately fell down on his way to an inside-the-park homer. Craig said he was all right, but manager Tony La Russa moved Jon Jay into center field anyway for the bottom of the fourth.

OF Corey Patterson ended a nothing-for-17 slide when he drove in a run with a pinch double and then scored in the sixth inning. He was rewarded by getting to stay in the outfield in center field the rest of the way.

Though the Cardinals fell farther and farther behind for most of the month, they still had a 15-13 record for August.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0 - Walks issued by two Cardinals starters, RHP Edwin Jackson and RHP Jake Westbrook, over the club's last two starts, covering 12 innings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They're legit. Their record … they've earned."

- Manager Tony La Russa, commending the Milwaukee Brewers' season to date.

ROSTER REPORT

 

MEDICAL WATCH:

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. He began a rehab stint with Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday.

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.

NEXT GAME

Thu., Sept. 1 at BREWERS: Brandon Dickson (0-0, 0.00) vs. Yovani Gallardo (15-8, 3.37) 3:10 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).

VIDEO FROM FOXSPORTSMIDWEST.COM

<a href='http://www.foxsportsmidwest.com/pages/video?UUID=ef29206e-2162-482c-8427-08d282b745ec&src=SLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='Furcal, La Russa on 8-3 win'>Video: Furcal, La Russa on 8-3 win</a>
Rafael Furcal and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa share their thoughts on the win over Milwaukee.

<a href='http://www.foxsportsmidwest.com/pages/video?UUID=6df1692c-3246-4e1b-a803-460ed4542feb&src=SLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='Wainwright fights'>Video: Wainwright fights</a>
Jim Hayes sits down with injured Cardinals' pitcher Adam Wainwright and discusses his rehabilitation.


The Cardinal Nation Top Stories