The Inside Pitch with Ray Mileur

The Cardinals will make a historic visit to Tampa Bay this weekend. Though they trained in St. Petersburg, Fla., for some 50 years, they never have played a regular-season game there.

Manager Tony La Russa, a Tampa, Fla., native will want these games badly as he contests former high school contemporary Lou Piniella.

RHP Matt Morris, one of two Cardinals to have trained in St. Petersburg -- OF John Mabry is the other -- will be seeking his eighth straight win on Saturday.

While most of the current Cardinals have little familiarity with the Devil Rays LHP Mark Mulder, who works Friday, is 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA at Tropicana Field.

This series will wrap up interleague play for the Cardinals, who are 7-5 for their first 12 games.

3B Scott Rolen will join the team in St. Petersburg but isn't expected to play until the next series in Cincinnati.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Chris Carpenter reminded the Toronto Blue Jays of what they could have had when he one-hit his former team 7-0 Tuesday night for his second shutout of the season.

Carpenter, who was allowed to be a free agent after he had shoulder surgery in 2002, constantly jumped ahead of the Blue Jays' hitters by throwing his curveball or cutter for strike one. The only hit, a sixth-inning double by SS Russ Adams, was a clean hit past first. Carpenter fanned 10 and walked just one as he posted his ninth win.

"I felt like I was making good pitches all night long," said Carpenter. But he added, "I have no regrets about what happened. They just decided to go a different way."

While Carpenter was overpowering in his return to Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome), DH Larry Walker, a Canadian who said he might retire after the season, got his first three hits at this facility after 10 hitless at-bats. Two were two-run homers, in the first and in the fifth.

--3B Scott Rolen said he still was experiencing some soreness and stiffness in his left shoulder, on which he underwent surgery May 13.

--1B Albert Pujols, who was in the midst of only the fourth hitless streak of three games or more in his career, was hit in the side by a pitch from RHP Chad Gaudin in the first inning Tuesday. That stirred him up to the extent that Pujols had two hits and his 16th home run later on. Pujols had been 0-for-10.

--DH Larry Walker had been only 15-for-84 (.179) on the road before his three-hit night Tuesday.

--RHP Chris Carpenter had been only 21-28 at Rogers Centre before Tuesday. His record with the Cardinals in two years is 24-9.

--The Cardinals lost for the first time in history to the Toronto Blue Jays Monday. They had beaten Toronto three times in interleague play in 2003 in St. Louis.

RHP Jeff Suppan, who was 10-1 on the road last year, is 1-4 on the road this year. Suppan, who has had early-inning troubles, missed location with some breaking balls early in the game on Monday, giving up three runs in the first two innings before throwing five scoreless innings.

The Cardinals' offense, which mustered just four singles and a fourth-inning homer by LF John Mabry, was without CF Jim Edmonds, who was a late scratch with a left-side injury. RF Larry Walker batted cleanup instead of Edmonds but continued his slide, going nothing for four and failing to get the ball out of the infield.

Scott Seabol was rewarded after his game-winning homer on Sunday with a start as the designated hitter against RHP Roy Halladay and contributed one of the singles.

--RHP Cal Eldred on Monday made his first appearance since April 10 and allowed an eighth-inning run on two hits. Eldred had been sidelined by a viral infection which inflamed the lining around his heart.

--RHP Jeff Suppan has given up 12 homers, a club high. He allowed a first-inning homer to 1B Shea Hillenbrand on Monday.

--LF John Mabry's homer Monday was the 400th run batted in of his career.

--OF Wilfrido Pujols and 1B A.J. Van Slyke, relatives of prominent Cardinals, both signed minor-league contracts Monday. Pujols, a cousin of 1B Albert Pujols, and Van Slyke, son of former OF Andy Van Slyke, both will report to first-year club Johnson City.

--One of the best bargains in baseball this year has been the $2.5 million base salary the Cardinals gave free-agent right-hander Matt Morris to return after Morris had undergone arthroscopic labrum surgery last December.

Morris, who has won his first seven decisions, can make $7 million if he achieves all his incentives, but that still is down from the $12.5 million he made last year when he won 15 games but generally was inconsistent.

The highlight of the one-time 22-game winner's revival this year came on Monday (June 6) when he stuffed the world champion Boston Red Sox for nine innings in a 7-1 victory. It was his first complete game since Sept. 3 when he blanked the Dodgers. He also pitched strongly in another interleague game on Sunday, holding the Yankees to one run in six innings in a no-decision, lowering his ERA to 3.27.

Manager Tony La Russa said, "When he's healthy, he's an upper-echelon, big-game pitcher."

One of the reasons he has bounced back, Morris said, is simple. It's good health.

"When you can go into the game and worry about how you're going to execute rather than how you feel, it makes a big difference," Morris said.

Boston manager Terry Francona, who managed the Phillies through Morris' early years, said, "When he came up, if he wasn't the best right-handed pitcher, he was one of them.

"His velocity was back. He had a late-breaking slider, he pounded the strike zone."

While Morris had won seven in a row, left-hander Mark Mulder had lost three in a row after compiling his own seven-game win streak.

In his last two outings, losses to Houston and the Yankees, he gave up 10 earned runs in nine innings.

--3B Scott Seabol cracked the first homer of his career when he hit a two-run blast off his former team, the Yankees, to give the Cardinals a 5-3 win Sunday.

--LHP Gabe White, who had a 2.16 ERA over 8 1/3 innings, was designated for assignment.

--SS David Eckstein, who had a 10-game hitting streak before going 0-for-15, broke out with a single in the third inning Sunday.

--C Yadier Molina snapped an 0-for-11 drought with three hits Sunday. He started two rallies with hits and scored each time.

BY THE NUMBERS: 150,719 -- Attendance for the three-game weekend series against the Yankees, the most for a three-game set in St. Louis since Busch Stadium was reconfigured in 1997.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "With the way Morris was pitching, there was no room for error." -- Boston manager Terry Francona on Matt Morris' performance Monday (June 6) against the Red Sox.

ROSTER REPORT

ROTATION:

1. LHP Mark Mulder 2. RHP Chris Carpenter 3. RHP Jason Marquis 4. RHP Jeff Suppan 5. RHP Matt Morris

BULLPEN:

RHP Jason Isringhausen (closer) LHP Ray King RHP Julian Tavarez RHP Al Reyes LHP Randy Flores RHP Brad Thompson RHP Cal Eldred

LINEUP:

1. SS David Eckstein 2. RF Larry Walker 3. 1B Albert Pujols 4. CF Jim Edmonds 5. LF Reggie Sanders 6. 2B Mark Grudzielanek 7. 3B John Mabry/Scott Seabol 8. C Yadier Molina

RESERVES:

OF So Taguchi INF Abraham Nunez C Einar Diaz OF Skip Schumaker

MEDICAL WATCH:

OF Roger Cedeno, right hamstring, 15-day DL 3B Scott Rolen, sprained left shoulder, 15-day DL. CF Jim Edmonds, left rib contusion, could be on the verge of being placed on the 15-day DL.


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