The Redbird Report 04/08

The Cardinals' brilliant starting pitching continued Monday night as right-hander Todd Wellemeyer worked six innings of two-hit, shutout ball in Houston before giving up back-to-back homers to first baseman Lance Berkman and left fielder Carlos Lee in the seventh inning. For their first 44 2/3 innings, Cardinals starters have given up only six runs for an earned-run average of 1.20.

Ryan Ludwick, who doubled home two runs in a three-run ninth, said the Cardinals took something positive out of the game because of that rally and manager Tony La Russa didn't seem all that upset that rookie right-hander Kyle McClellan had been roughed up for two runs in the bottom of the ninth on shortstop Miguel Tejada's homer.

"It was a very exciting game," said La Russa of the Astros' home opener. "It was neat to be a part of that competition. They had the last hero."

La Russa could have gone to veteran righty Ryan Franklin to open the ninth but opted for the hard-throwing rookie instead. "I have total confidence in him," said La Russa. "Sometimes you have to give the hitters credit."

McClellan, who hails from Missouri, said his ninth-inning appearance was "another role -- a role I need to succeed in and most of the time I think I can. Whether it's the first inning or the ninth inning, I've got to get outs. (Monday night), I didn't do my job."

ASTROS 5, CARDINALS 3: The Cardinals' winning streak was snapped at five games but only after the Cardinals rallied for three runs in the ninth inning, creating a 3-3 tie. Right fielder Ryan Ludwick, who had fanned in each of his first three trips, doubled home two runs after third baseman Troy Glaus' second hit of the night had scored the first run. All three runs came with two out.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--RHP Joel Pineiro, who initially was targeted to pitch a rehabilitation start in Class AA Springfield, instead will pitch for Class AAA Memphis Tuesday at New Orleans. Pineiro, who is on the 15-day disabled list, is getting over shoulder trouble.

--OF Skip Schumaker, not starting for the fourth straight game against a left-handed pitcher, pinch hit in the eighth but grounded into a double play. He is nothing-for-15 now.

--LF Chris Duncan started against LHP Wandy Rodriguez. Last year, the left-handed Duncan had only one of his 21 homers against lefty pitching but it was against Rodriguez. Duncan was hitless in three at-bats before he was walked intentionally in the ninth.

--1B Albert Pujols, who had been nothing-for-nine against LHP Wandy Rodriguez, singled in the first inning.

--C Yadier Molina netted his second pickoff of a runner at first base in two days and the 21st of his career when he nabbed napping 1B Lance Berkman in the eighth.

BY THE NUMBERS: 300 -- Career doubles for 1B Albert Pujols after hitting one on April 4.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't think it will be four new guys." -- RHP Braden Looper, referring to the Cardinals' potential rotation. The current starters all are pitching well, but there are four more on the way when they recover from injuries and surgeries.


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