The Redbird Report 02/21

The one-sided nature of Braden Looper's 8-2 loss Sunday was not all that unusual when you consider the scores of his 12 defeats last year.

Other than 2-1 and 7-6 setbacks, Looper lost by scores of 10-0, 12-2, 14-4, 8-2, 9-3, 14-3, 14-6, 15-1, 18-1 and 9-1.

"He had a really bad day," said manager Tony La Russa. "He had a rough time of it.

"I just don't think he was really sharp and they took advantage."

It was Looper's first daytime start this year after he had gone 7-1 with a 1.82 earned-run average in daytime games last year. Conversely, Looper was 5-11 with a 6.75 ERA at night last year and he is 3-0 at night with a 2.70 ERA this season.

The Cardinals already have lost their first season series. The loss Sunday was their fourth in seven games with the Giants, whom they don't play again this season.

The Cardinals now begin a 13-game stretch inside their own division in the next two weeks, playing Milwaukee and Pittsburgh twice apiece and meeting Houston, Cincinnati and Chicago three times each.

GIANTS 8, CARDINALS 2: RHP Braden Looper was concerned about walking five batters in five innings in his last start. So, on Sunday, he walked nobody but gave up six runs in the third inning, including a two-run homer by RF John Bowker.

"That six-run inning took a little starch out of us," said manager Tony La Russa. The Cardinals scored twice in the ninth to avoid being blanked in back-to-back games for the first time since 1995.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--LHP Mark Mulder, making his second start on the medical rehabilitation program as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery, pitched six scoreless innings for Class AA Springfield against Tulsa. In throwing 76 pitches, Mulder walked three, allowed three hits and fanned one. But manager Tony La Russa is not exactly keeping the porch light on for Mulder just yet.

"He's got a long way to go," La Russa said. --Fans are eager to see what will happen when Mulder and RHPs Matt Clement and Chris Carpenter return. But La Russa can wait.

"When somebody gets close, that's when you really think about it," he said. "Otherwise, you're just wasting your time. Nobody knows what the circumstances are going to be when any of those guys come back. Things change daily here.

"Now, if you've got nothing else to think about and you want to waste your time, then you can do it. If fans want to have fun, they can do that."

--When C Yadier Molina was called out on strikes on a ball he thought was outside in the sixth inning, it marked only his second strikeout in 61 plate appearances. Molina had been leading the league in that ratio.

"I didn't know that," said Molina. "But I don't look at it. I'm just trying to put the ball in play. I don't think about strikeouts."

--Using RHP Adam Wainwright's bat, Cardinals LHP Ron Villone, hitting for the first time in at least three years, was called out on strikes in the eighth inning. But Villone has had some history as a batsman. He has had 22 hits (and 50 strikeouts) in 170 at-bats, including a homer off Cincinnati's Danny Graves in 2003.

--3B Troy Glaus, whose batting average had dipped to .220, doubled twice, drove in a run and drew a walk.

NUMBERS GAME: 16 -- Number of hitting streaks of 10 games or longer in 1B Albert Pujols' career.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "No one is as hot as Ryan (Ludwick), but there's no one really struggling." -- Manager Tony La Russa on why the .400-hitting outfielder was not playing regularly.


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