The Inside Pitch with Ray Mileur

The Cardinals, having finished their interleague schedule at 10-5, will wrap up a nine-game trip with three games in Cincinnati.

The Cards are 4-2 (1-2 at TOR & 3-0 at TB) to begin the trip...they completed a 3-game series sweep of the Devil Rays yesterday at Tropicana Field in the first-ever regular season series meeting between the two clubs...win tonight would give Cards their first 4-game win streak since May 23-28 when they won 5-straight...are beginning a 10-game stretch with CIN (6 games) & PIT (4 games) tonight...the Redbirds have won 19 of their last 28 games and are 21-12 at home & 23- 12 on the road...they've won 11 of their last 14 & 13 of the last 17 at home...the Cards are 21-5 vs. N.L. Central teams, 7-8 vs. the N.L. East, 6- 6 vs. N.L. West foes and 10-5 in interleague play.

In their first visit in early May, the Cardinals teed off on the Reds' pitching staff, notably their bullpen, including a seven-run ninth inning that pulled out a 10-9 win on May 3 and fueled a three-game sweep.

RHP Chris Carpenter, who had a no-decision in his first start against the Reds, will try to put together back-to-back gems. In his previous game against Toronto, Carpenter was ahead of almost every hitter in throwing a 95-pitch, one-hit shutout.

The Cardinals haven't disabled CF Jim Edmonds, yet, even though the All-Star has a non-displaced hairline fracture of a rib. They are hoping he can at least hit in Cincinnati after they went through the weekend series at Tampa Bay without him.

After getting swept in a four-game series in the first year of Great American Ball Park a couple of seasons ago, the Cardinals play with much more confidence there now. They are 10-3 there the last two seasons.

Next up at home is Pittsburgh for a four-game series, followed by two more with Cincinnati and four with Colorado.

NOTES, QUOTES

--LHP Mark Mulder found the elixir for his spotty pitching of late. It is the potion known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Mulder, who had lost three straight starts after winning seven consecutive decisions, pitched the Cardinals' first regular-season game at Tropicana Field. But, while the Cardinals, long time spring training inhabitants in St. Petersburg, Fla., hadn't been at Tropicana, Mulder had. He had a 3-0 mark with a 1.64 earned run average here and he was 6-0 for his career in seven starts against the Devil Rays.

You can make that 4-0 in St. Petersburg and 7-0 overall against Tampa Bay after a 6-4 win over the Devil Rays Friday night. Mulder had something of an up-and-down game, allowing two home runs to 2B Jorge Cantu, but he endured seven innings, surviving two hit batsmen and a wild pitch, to gain credit for his eighth win of the season.

Pitching coach Dave Duncan rated Mulder's effort "OK. He made a couple of mistakes. We gave (Cantu) a couple of pitches to hit and he didn't miss them."

Mulder also had scant praise for his effort. "It was all right," he said. "It was just that each of the mistakes I made, they hit hard."

Of his record in Tropicana, he said, "I like pitching in domes. I don't know why. Whether it was Minnesota or Toronto, I feel comfortable in them. With the turf, you get the true hops."

--3B Scott Rolen was activated for Saturday night's game after missing more than a month with a shoulder injury that required surgery on May 13.

--Center fielder Jim Edmonds was out for more than a week because of what was discovered to be a non-displaced hairline fracture of one of the ribs on his left side.

--RHP Anthony Reyes, the Cardinals' top pitching prospect, went on the disabled list at Triple-A Memphis with tendinitis in his shoulder.

--Manager Tony La Russa returned to his Tampa roots over the weekend. The Ybor City native had been back just once as a manager before this, losing an exhibition game in 1998 to the Devil Rays.

--The strange vanishing strikeout pitch of RHP Jason Marquis was nonexistent Wednesday. Marquis, who hadn't struck out more than four hitters in his last nine starts, didn't fan anybody in five innings. He generally is a sinkerballer who doesn't try to strike out that many but the Blue Jays obviously put too many balls in play on Wednesday. Marquis lost for the first time in his last four starts and is stuck at eight wins.

--The Cardinals' 2-1 series loss at Toronto was their first series defeat in their last nine games against American League clubs.

BY THE NUMBERS: 31 -- The Cardinals were 31 days ahead of their pace of a year ago when they built their lead to 9 1/2 games on June 19. They didn't lead by that much until July 20 last year.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's the first hit I've gotten in about 6 1/2 weeks, and I was only out five." -- 3B Scott Rolen, who had been slumping at 4-for-22 before he went out with a left shoulder sprain and then returned on June 18.

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. 3B Scott Rolen, 5. CF Jim Edmonds, 6. LF Reggie Sanders, 7. 2B Mark Grudzielanek, 8. C Yadier Molina,

RESERVES:

OF So Taguchi, INF Abraham Nunez, C Einar Diaz, INF/OF John Mabry, INF Scott Seabol,

MEDICAL WATCH:

OF Roger Cedeno, right hamstring, 15-day DL is currently on a re-hab assignment with Memphis AAA,

OF Jim Edmonds is in St. Louis today to be examine by team doctors. Don't be surprised to see Edmonds placed on the 15 day DL.

UPCOMING GAMES

Tue., June 21 at REDS: Jason Marquis (8-4, 3.59) vs. Brandon Claussen (3-4, 4.02) 6:10 p.m.*

Wed., June 22 at REDS: Mark Mulder (8-4, 4.27) vs. Ramon Ortiz (2-5, 6.51) 11:35 a.m.#

Thu., June 23 vs. PIRATES: Matt Morris (8-0, 3.16) vs. 7:10 p.m.*

Fri., June 24 vs. PIRATES: Jeff Suppan (6-6, 4.45) vs. 7:10 p.m.*

Sat., June 25 vs. PIRATES: Chris Carpenter (9-4+) vs. 6:15 p.m.#

Sun., June 26 vs. PIRATES: Jason Marquis (8-4+) vs. 1:15 p.m.#

Times listed are Central...All games broadcast on KMOX Radio # WB11-TV * Fox Sports-Net/Midwest + FOX Network % ESPN @ESPN2


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