The Redbird Report 08/21

Jason Isringhausen picked up his 23rd save on Monday in the Cardinals 6-4 over the Cubs.

Manager Tony La Russa, thirsting for one win in a four-game series that became three games when Sunday's game was rained out in Chicago, used right-hander Jason Isringhausen to get a two-inning save for the first time all season Monday. The move paid off as Isringhausen worked two innings of one-hit ball and the Cardinals left Chicago just three games out of first place in the NL Central.

Right-hander Joel Pineiro, who gained his third straight victory, was pulled after five innings as La Russa may have feared that the game would be shortened and wanted to go to his strength, his bullpen, as soon as possible. Right-hander Ryan Franklin, the club's prime setup man, entered the game in the sixth inning, rather than the seventh or eighth, and pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

Franklin got the final three of his five outs after a 90-minute rain delay.

"We needed to come out of here with at least one win," said Isringhausen.

"I didn't have very good stuff, but I threw a lot of fly balls to the track."

Manager Tony La Russa, explaining his heavy reliance on his last two relievers Monday, said, "(Franklin and Isringhausen) were rested. You can't walk into the clubhouse without your best guys involved."

Third baseman Scott Rolen, who occasionally has trouble with a balky left shoulder on which he had surgery a couple of years ago, has been inconsistent at bat lately. After getting four hits in Milwaukee, he went 1-for-13, but he cranked out two doubles and a single Monday, driving in three runs.

CARDINALS 6, CUBS 4: The Cardinals completed a 4-2 trip as left fielder Rick Ankiel, who had sat out three starts in a row, doubled to set up a two-run first inning and homered in the seventh. First baseman Albert Pujols cracked his third solo homer in three games in Chicago. Ankiel's homer was his fourth in seven starts.


--LF Rick Ankiel doubled in the first and homered in the seventh, extending his hitting streak to seven games. He has hit safely in each game he has started since coming up from Class AAA Memphis, and he also threw out Cubs SS Ryan Theriot at third in the first inning after Theriot had tried to stretch a double off the wall (and then Ankiel's head) into a triple.

--The Cardinals will have a couple of veteran reinforcements arriving when Sept. 1 comes. C Kelly Stinnett, who was with the club earlier in the season before being released, has joined Class AAA Memphis, as has former Cardinals infielder Miguel Cairo, who was released by the Yankees. Cairo, who was with the Cardinals from 2001-03, will be brought up when rosters can be expanded as will Stinnett, who will serve the team's third catcher behind Yadier Molina and Gary Bennett.

--RHP Joel Pineiro didn't walk a batter for the third straight start, covering 19 innings.

--SS David Eckstein and 2B Brendan Ryan exchanged batting order spots, with Ryan moving to first and Eckstein dropping to ninth. There was only marginal production involved, although Ryan's one hit in five at-bats came in the first inning when the Cardinals scored twice. Eckstein went nothing for four.

--RHP Jason Isringhausen, who gained his 23rd save in 25 tries, had thrown only eight pitches in the last week.

--The Cardinals are 30-22 against the National League Central Division.

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