The Redbird Report 07/13

Right-hander Chris Carpenter, rehabbing from early-season elbow surgery, is expected to make two more starts before being activated, either in Atlanta at the end of the trip or for the Chicago-Milwaukee home stand.

The next 2 1/2 weeks of the Cardinals' schedule could determine their season. At 40-45, they must embark on a difficult 10-game swing to Philadelphia, Florida and Atlanta, beginning Friday in Philadelphia.

Upon the conclusion of that, they will have a seven-game home stand against Chicago and Milwaukee, the two teams they are chasing in the National League Central Division.

The Cardinals gradually will be adding players during this stretch. Shortstop David Eckstein, who has had lower back problems, should be the first to come off the disabled list. After a couple of false alarms following strenuous workouts, Eckstein should be activated Friday.

Center field Jim Edmonds, bothered by a pinched nerve in his lower back, is expected to play sometime this trip, as is left-hander Tyler Johnson (biceps tendinitis), who has been a staple in the bullpen.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--RHP Kip Wells, 3-11 for the season but 5-0 in his career against the Phillies, will make the Cardinals' first start of the second half Friday night at Philadelphia.

--1B Albert Pujols and 3B Scott Rolen have combined for one home run (by Rolen) since June 14.

--1B Albert Pujols and manager Tony La Russa won't have any problems between them after the latter didn't use the former in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night. Pujols said was mostly "joking" when he was complaining about not playing.

--The Cardinals haven't lost in Philadelphia since 2005. They swept their only road series against the Phillies last season when the teams played the first three games of the season.

--Philadelphia beat the Cardinals two games out of three in St. Louis last month. The Cardinals have not played Florida or Atlanta, the two other opponents on this trip, at all this season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 22 -- Number of homerless games with which 1B Albert Pujols finished the first half.


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