Cards best Cain, visiting Giants Monday night

Matt Carpenter's key sixth-inning pinch hit turned a tight game into a more comfortable cushion.

INSIDE PITCH

 

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny pushed the right button in the sixth inning Monday night at Busch Stadium, pulling right-hander Jake Westbrook after only 79 pitches and with a 3-2 lead.

 

With the bases loaded and two out, Matheny sent up rookie Matt Carpenter to pinch hit for Westbrook and Carpenter delivered a two-run single on the 114th pitch on the night from San Francisco's Matt Cain. Carpenter is 4-for-4 against Cain in his career, all singles.

 

That made the score 5-2, and then center fielder Jon Jay capped a three-run seventh with his fourth single of the game, a two-run blow.

 

Carpenter, whose eight pinch runs batted in are the most by a Cardinals rookie since at least 1950, was only 3 for his first 17 as a pinch hitter before hitting safely twice and walking in his last three appearances.

 

"It's something I've definitely gotten better at. It's a learning experience," said Carpenter.

 

Westbrook scored his fourth straight victory to move to 11-8 for the season, and the Cardinals posted their fourth straight win. The triumph also was the Cardinals' 13th in their last 17 games as they moved 11 games over .500 at 60-49.

 

To illustrate the Cardinals' balance lately, consider ...

 

Right fielder Carlos Beltran hit his 26th homer and threw out a runner at second.

 

Left fielder Matt Holliday doubled and scored the lead run in the sixth after some aggressive baserunning, tagging up on a flyball to medium center and making third base. "Great play," said Matheny. "Matt's hustle made that play happen. It doesn't happen if he's not anticipating."

 

Third baseman David Freese drove in two runs with a sacrifice fly and a single.

 

Shortstop Rafael Furcal drove in a key run with a single and also drew a walk to keep a scoring inning alive.

 

NOTES, QUOTES

CF Jon Jay shot his average to .296 from .284 with four singles. Jay suffered a sprained right shoulder in April when he banged into the wall chasing a home run, and the prevailing theory was that his shoulder had been bothering him for longer than he had allowed. "I haven't really looked into that," Jay said. "If I'm out there, I've got to perform. That's the bottom line." But manager Mike Matheny said, "I don't think he was ever completely right. But you're balancing that as a young player, realizing you want to be on the field and that you don't want to be sitting on the sidelines watching your team do something. I think he was trying to push on something that he probably couldn't."

RHP Kyle Lohse, having a career year (12-2) as he finishes up a four-year contract with the Cardinals, said he would be open to discussing an extension if the Cardinals were to bring it up. "If it comes up, then I'll deal with it. If not, then I'm sure there are a lot of teams out there that would like my services," he said. "We'll see how it goes. There are 30 teams once you hit free agency. If I go out there, it's a business. I've done well. I'm at the point in my career where I want to play to win, and there are other teams out there."

SS Rafael Furcal, who had been 0 for 14 and dropped to eighth in the lineup, had a run-scoring single in the second and a walk that preceded pinch hitter Matt Carpenter's two-run single in the sixth. This was the best Furcal had looked since he was sidelined for five games by a recent lower back injury, a condition that persists to some degree.

RHP Jake Westbrook is just five wins away from 100 for his career after posting his fourth straight win. Showing consistency that had been elusive during his first two years with the club, Westbrook has worked at least six innings in 11 straight starts.

LF Matt Holliday is edging into the Most Valuable Player consideration. He reached base for the 32nd straight game with a sixth-inning double and is hitting .323 with an on-base percentage of .405.

By the Numbers:

3 - Games the Cardinals are ahead of last year's record. They are 60-49. They were 57-52 at this time last year.

Quote to Note:

"I don't see how I'm not going to be throwing before the season is over—at least picking up a ball and playing catch."

- RHP Chris Carpenter, optimistic that recent surgery correctly addressed a nerve problem that had plagued his right shoulder.

MEDICAL WATCH

1B Lance Berkman (sore right knee) re-injured the surgically repaired joint Aug. 2 and was placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 3.

LHP Jaime Garcia (left shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 6, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 16. After further examination, it was determined that he has tearing in his rotator cuff. He threw 40 pitches from 60 feet on flat ground for the first time in a month July 4. He threw live batting practice July 25. He began a rehab assignment July 30 in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, and he was slated to make three or four starts before a potential return to the Cardinals in mid-August.

RHP Kyle McClellan (torn labrum in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18 due to a strained right elbow, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 30. He threw on flat ground for the first time July 3, but he subsequently felt shoulder pain. He had season-ending shoulder surgery July 10.

RHP Chris Carpenter (weak right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 10. He threw for the first time since March on June 13 and then threw another 40 pitches on June 15. He threw to hitters for the first time June 22 but then had a setback June 25 when he felt renewed weakness in the shoulder. He said it felt better the next day, and he had an extensive throwing session off flat ground June 27. On June 28, he was told he has thoracic outlet syndrome, which can cause, among its effects, weakness in one's shoulder. A July 2 bullpen session was canceled. He underwent season-ending surgery July 19 to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.

Link to boxscore: St. Louis 8, San Francisco 2


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