The Redbird Report - 04/09

With RHP Chris Carpenter already sidelined for two starts and possibly more with a sore right elbow, the Cardinals will need strong efforts from their other four starters. RHP Kip Wells, a Houston native, was even better than strong on Sunday.

Wells, a Houston native, silenced the Astros on just a bloop single by SS Mark Loretta over seven innings and retired the final 16 hitters he faced before turning the game over to the bullpen.

"He gave us the start we needed," said manager Tony La Russa.

While the starting pitching generally had been good to outstanding in the first week, the middle of the lineup had been invisible. But 1B Albert Pujols and 3B Scott Rolen can be thwarted only so long.

Pujols, who had been nothing for 15, cracked a two-run homer off RHP Jason Jennings and added a single. Rolen, who had been nothing for 11, singled home a run in the eighth and knocked in three more with a double in the ninth.

"It hadn't been pretty so far," said Rolen.

Pujols said too much had been made of the slow start by the offense, which scored just seven runs over the first five games.

"All I heard the last three days was about the middle of the lineup," said Pujols. "It's still too early. Sometimes people take this too seriously."

CARDINALS 10, ASTROS 1: RHP Kip Wells had only been 3-6 at Houston in his career but the Houstonian dominated the Astros, allowing baserunners in only one inning of the seven he pitched. The Cardinals' 10-run output represented three more than they had scored in their first five games. 1B Albert Pujols hit his first homer of the season and just the team's third homer.


--RHP Chris Carpenter returned to St. Louis to be examined after his elbow had swelled again. Carpenter had thrown on the sideline Saturday, hoping to pitch Tuesday at Pittsburgh. "No way he pitches Tuesday," said manager Tony La Russa. Carpenter was held out of a weekend start in Houston because of elbow problems he suffered after pitching last Sunday.

--1B Albert Pujols, who entered Sunday's game nothing for 14, had gone hitless in just eight of 309 previous series in his Cardinals career before he had two hits, including a two-run homer on Sunday.

--With C Gary Bennett starting Saturday night and getting two hits and Scott Spiezio, who doubled, playing in right field, all 13 Cardinals position player had started a game in the first week of the season.

--SS David Eckstein had been on base seven times in the first five games but he didn't score his first run until the ninth inning on Sunday.

--Every starting position player but 2B Adam Kennedy had a hit in the Cardinals' 13-hit attack on Sunday.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Number of games in which the Cardinals had a lead in their first five.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You're looking for the best way to get the game to Izzy (Jason Isringhausen). But unless we start scoring runs, it's a problem we're not going to have very often." -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, discussing his closer and his team's lack of offense in the first five games.

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