Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/20/11

Kyle Lohse pitched St. Louis to a win over Philadelphia Monday night as they took three of four. In the wild card race, the Cards trail Atlanta by 2 ½ games with nine to go.

INSIDE PITCH

 

Kyle Lohse, in a seeming mismatch against Philadelphia ace Roy Halladay, outpitched his counterpart Monday.

The Cardinals right-hander turned in his best clutch effort of the season, and St. Louis held on for a 4-3 win.

St. Louis moved within 2 1/2 games of wild-card-leading Atlanta. The Cardinals trail the Braves by two games in the loss column.

Lohse had to pitch around early errors by second baseman Nick Punto and shortstop Rafael Furcal, his third in three days. Most often a six-inning pitcher, Lohse lasted 7 1/3 before manager Tony La Russa employed four relievers to get the last five outs.

Finally, when Octavio Dotel got Hunter Pence to ground to third base, the Cardinals, who had a 4-1 lead entering the ninth, had held on for the one-run win.

Lance Berkman hit his first homer this month, a solo shot off Halladay in the first, and drove in another run with a single in the third before Halladay walked him intentionally in his next two at-bats. The homer was Berkman's 31st.

"Usually, if you're going to get to a guy like (Halladay), it's going to be early before he gets into a rhythm," Berkman said.

Berkman added, "(Lohse) was great. I think that's the story of the game.

Any time you face a guy like Halladay, you're going to need somebody who's going to give you a chance. Lohse gave us more than that."

Lohse also doubled off Halladay and scored a run in the third inning.

"Lohse was outstanding," La Russa said. "You just can't give him enough credit. We had our best defensive team out there, and we kicked it around and made him have to get some extra outs. He picked up everybody all day. He never got distracted

"When he's healthy, this is what he's capable of doing. He's done it for us a lot of times."

Lohse, who worked his longest stint since June 22, when he went eight innings in a loss to Philadelphia, has won six of his last seven decisions.

His best pitching came in the third after Furcal had dropped Punto's relay on what seemed to be an inning-ending double play-ball. Pence singled hard to left to load the bases with one out. Lohse then struck out Raul Ibanez on a fastball and then whiffed out hard-to-fan Placido Polanco on a changeup.

"That was a big turning point right there," Lohse said. "Unfortunately, we botched a couple of ground balls, but you can't let it affect you too much.

"I got into a couple of really tough situations, and it was key to bear down and execute some pitches. I don't think I really had too many easy innings."

Lohse, who stranded seven runners in the first four innings, said he was well aware of his pitching opponent. "You know going into the game that one bad pitch at any time could be the key to the game," Lohse said. "To come out on top makes it that much sweeter."

The Cardinals finished their season's work against Philadelphia at 6-3. They also reached 15 games over .500 for the first time at 84-69.

Of their final nine games, six will be at home this week against the Mets and Cubs. Of the Braves' final eight games, five will be on the road.

As the Cardinals celebrated their win, they got a chance to exult further in the clubhouse as they watched on TV as Atlanta was beaten in the ninth by Florida.

"That's what the pennant race is all about," said La Russa, who was watching the St. Louis Rams game on TV at the time.

Related article (for The Cardinal Nation subscribers): "Cardinals Philly Cheese – September 19, 2011".

Boxscore

NOTES, QUOTES

SS Rafael Furcal, starting to give the Cardinals a jump as a leadoff man, doubled on the first pitch from Phillies RHP Roy Halladay and sparked a two-run first inning. Furcal also doubled again and singled. "He's electric," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's got a live bat and live legs. He's very talented, if he's healthy."

1B Albert Pujols needs just four RBI for his 11th consecutive season with 100 or more. He doubled home 2B Nick Punto from first base in the seventh inning. Pujols went 1-for-5, dropping his average to .299. He is bidding for an 11th straight .300 season, too.

LF Lance Berkman hit his league-leading 22nd road homer but his first away from home since July 23. It was also the first homer allowed to a left-handed batter in Philadelphia by Phillies RHP Roy Halladay all season.

RHP Jason Motte wasn't able to get the last out for his eighth save. Manager Tony La Russa pulled Motte after the closer had given up two runs in the ninth. "They were centering the ball pretty good on him," said La Russa, who used LHP Arthur Rhodes and then RHP Octavio Dotel after Motte.

RHP Octavio Dotel retired Phillies RF Hunter Pence for the final out on a grounder to third. Dotel has faced Pence six times in his career and has struck him four times, allowing just one infield hit.

C Yadier Molina was out of the starting lineup for the first time since Sept. 4, with Gerald Laird getting the call. Molina, who is hitting .295, already has his career high in homers at 13 and is one RBI off his personal best of 62 set last year.

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 - ­­Wins by the Cardinals in their last 12 games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've had our backs up against the wall for a long time now. To take three out of four here is huge."

- RHP Kyle Lohse, the Cardinals' winning pitcher Monday against Philadelphia.

ROSTER REPORT

 

MEDICAL WATCH:

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 Lance Lynn (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 10 and was transferred to the 60-day DL on Sept. 2.

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.

NEXT GAME

Tuesday, September 20 vs. METS: Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.71) vs. Mike Pelfrey (7-12, 4.48) 7:15 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=3515f4d9-4ec6-440f-b949-d878409d309f&src=SLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='Berkman's HR propels Cardinals to 4-3 win'>Video: Berkman's HR propels Cardinals to 4-3 win</a>
Lance Berkman's home run helped the Cardinals stave off the Phillies chances of home-field advantage.

<a href='http://www.foxsportsmidwest.com/pages/video?UUID=0a9767af-b8a3-4fc0-839f-53c380fb159b&src=SLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='La Russa gets good news on pennant chase'>Video: La Russa gets good news on pennant chase</a>
La Russa gets good news on pennant chase


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