The Redbird Report 06/27

Infielder Brendan Ryan is in the majors only because Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein is on the disabled list with a back problem. Indeed, Ryan may go back to Class AAA Memphis later this week if Eckstein is activated, but he is leaving a calling card.

Not only did Ryan hit his first big-league home run Tuesday, but he had two singles, scored twice and knocked in two runs. And he made a dazzling defensive play in the sixth inning when he raced into short center field to snare a popup.

Ryan, who started at second base Tuesday, connected for his home run in the 11th inning off Mets left-hander Scott Schoeneweis, providing what proved to be the winning run.

"I don't even know what's going on. I need to be pinched right now," Ryan said. "This is a dream. I closed my eyes and swung, and it hit the sweet spot."

Right-hander Todd Wellemeyer's record continued untainted. With the converted reliever pitching his best game as a Cardinal -- holding the Mets to one run and three hits in six innings -- St. Louis still hasn't lost in his six starts.

"Every time he gets a little (deeper) in the game, and he does a little more," manager Tony La Russa said. "I don't know how he could have pitched better."

CARDINALS 5, METS 3 (11 innings): The Cardinals were forced into their second extra-inning game in New York in two nights when Jason Isringhausen blew only his second save out of 16 opportunities on Jose Valentin's ninth-inning double. But Brad Thompson pitched scoreless ball in the 10th and part of the 11th, and struggling lefty Randy Flores gained his first save of the season by getting the final two outs in the 11th. The Cardinals, who beat the Mets in last year's National League Championship Series, had lost seven in a row to them in the regular season.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--RHP Chris Carpenter returned to the Cardinals' facility in Jupiter, Fla., to throw an intrasquad game Wednesday involving players still in the extended spring training camp. Carpenter, out since the first game of the season, is recovering from elbow surgery and should be back in the majors by the middle of July.

--C Yadier Molina, who has a fractured left wrist, may be able to play in the Mets series but almost certainly will be back in Cincinnati this weekend.

--3B Scott Rolen sat out for the second consecutive night with a bruised left foot.

--CF So Taguchi singled in the ninth inning to extend his hitting streak to 18 games, tying RF Juan Encarnacion's club high for the season. "He's playing every day because he's playing very well," manager Tony La Russa said.

--Veteran RHP Troy Percival's contract was officially purchased from Class AAA Memphis, and rookie RHP Andy Cavazos was optioned to Memphis.

--RHP Russ Springer, who hadn't allowed a home run through the Cardinals' first 73 games, gave up his second in two nights when C Paul LoDuca homered in the eighth inning Tuesday.


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