Actually, Wells (2-11), who has the most losses in the majors, knocked himself out, walking four, hitting one and allowing six runs in 1 1/3 innings. But does he stay in the rotation? "You can ask all you want, but you're not going to get any response," La Russa said before the club headed for Oakland. "What I want to do is I want to think about today's game. I don't want to be confusing that with what happens beyond it.
"(Wells) struggled. I don't think there's a real easy way to describe how he struggled, so I think you just stay with he struggled and you don't beat it into the ground. Obviously, he had a tough night, and that's how I'm going to leave it.
"The other guys who pitched had a tough night, as well. We had a chance to score more than we scored. We had a tough game as a team. We did a lot of bad things besides Kip."
Wells' ERA is 6.93. Meanwhile, right-hander Anthony Reyes, banished to Class AAA Memphis two weeks ago, has allowed just four earned runs in 22 innings in three starts.
Wells said, "It's just frustrating that the bullpen had to eat as many innings as it did and we've got three more games in three more days.
"That's something that you've got to stomach when you're sitting in here watching the game, knowing that you're counted on to go seven-plus innings and then to watch these guys who aren't prepared to go into the game in the second inning have to do that."
Wells said he hadn't thought about his status in the rotation.
"I've got other fish to fry," he said. "I've got other things to concern myself with as far as looking in the mirror and being happy with what you're doing."
ROYALS 17, CARDINALS 8: The Cardinals were outscored by four or more runs for the 23rd time 35 losses as Kip Wells failed to last two innings. The Cardinals also dropped to 2-7 in interleague games. Albert Pujols hit his 16th homer and raised his career average at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City to .398 over seven seasons.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--RF Juan Encarnacion raised his hitting streak to 14 games with a seventh-inning single Thursday.
--Tony La Russa will manage a regular-season game in Oakland for the first time since he left there as manager after the 1995 season when the Cardinals make their first interleague visit there, starting Friday night.
--LHP Tyler Johnson, who had a 1.66 ERA in his first 32 games, saw that statistic blow up in the past week. Johnson gave up seven runs while retiring just one batter over two outings, and his new ERA was 4.50 before he threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings Thursday.
--RHP Chris Carpenter will take the next step in his comeback from elbow surgery when he throws off a mound Saturday in Oakland before the Cardinals-Athletics night game.
--SS David Eckstein didn't play Thursday and is uncertain for the weekend series in Oakland because of a recurrence of lower back problems.
"The biggest thing is I need to put myself in a situation where I can go out there and stay out there," said Eckstein, who has raised his average 106 points since May 12 to a team-high .313.