It isn't known whether the Cardinals will be able to re-sign both first baseman Albert Pujols and outfielder Lance Berkman next year but if they don't, they probably have a regular player in their midst in outfielder Allen Craig.
Craig, who missed two months with a fractured kneecap, has hit over .300 when he has been able to play -- and that includes starts in left field, center field, right field, second base and third base. And first base may be his best position.
On Sunday, while right-hander Chris Carpenter scattered eight hits in eight shutout innings, Craig piled up 10 total bases with a two-run homer in the sixth after failing to sacrifice, a solo homer in the eighth and a double in the first.
The Cardinals, though
running out of time, did pick up a game on
With 10 games to play,
they trail the Braves by 3 1/2 but have a severe challenge Monday night in the
finale of a four-game series with the Phillies when they go up against
To oppose Halladay, the Cardinals will send out righty Kyle Lohse, who, to the surprise of many, actually is the team's leading winner at 13.
If Lohse doesn't win two more games, the Cardinals will fail to have at least one 15-game winner for the second time since 1998.
RHP Chris Carpenter made his 32nd start of the season, tied for the National League lead, and went over .500 for the first time this year at 10-9. He had started 1-7. Though 36, Carpenter has led the league in starts the last two seasons combined with 67.
1B Albert Pujols walloped LHP Cole Hamels' first pitch to him in the first inning Sunday for a two-run homer. Pujols has 36 homers and now is just five runs batted in from his 11th straight season of 100 RBI. After taking more than five months to get there, he also is at .300 for the third straight game in his bid to hit at least .300 for the 11th straight season.
The Cardinals have only
four road games left, with a six-game home stand to follow Monday night's game
If the Cardinals had
played the non-contenders as well as they've played the contenders, they'd be in
better contending position. They are 5-3 against National League Eastern
2B Ryan Theriot got a rare start Sunday. Manager Tony La Russa told Theriot that he thought the former might have put on too much weight in the offseason (Theriot wanted to become stronger), where it cost him some quickness in the field at shortstop. But, La Russa said, "He's a quality second baseman. I think he could lean out a little and play shortstop again. He could get some of that quickness back. He's a competitive, tough, winning-type player."
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 - National League teams with a winning record against the Phillies. With one game left, the Cardinals have a 5-3 edge.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're just trying to win to stay in the thing."
- Manager Tony La Russa, on his team's desperate bid to stay in the wild-card hunt.
LF Matt Holliday (inflamed tendon in middle finger of right hand) was injured while he was in the on-deck circle Sept. 13 and had to leave the game. An examination the next day revealed the inflammation, and it's questionable whether he will play again this season.
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. Wainwright was getting closer to throwing a full-strength bullpen session in September, but he will not be allowed to throw his signature curveball until next year.
September 19 @ PHILLIES: RHP Kyle Lohse (13-8, 3.62) vs. RHP Roy Halladay (18-5,
2.34) 6:05 P.M. CDT