The Redbird Report 04/26

St. Louis Cardinals reliever Jason Isringhausen sits in the dugout after giving up three runs and the lead to the Houston Astros during the ninth inning of Friday's night game. The Astros won the game 3-2.

A ninth-inning meltdown by Cardinals right-handed closer Jason Isringhausen erased a brilliant effort by right-hander Braden Looper Friday night.

In a game delayed two hours by a couple of rain storms at Busch Stadium, Looper permitted just three Houston Astros baserunners over seven innings and right-hander Ryan Franklin spun a scoreless eighth to turn a 2-0 lead over to Isringhausen in the ninth.

But Isringhausen, who had saved eight games in his first nine opportunities, failed this time. After fanning second baseman Kaz Matsui for the first out, Isringhausen allowed a single by right fielder Darin Erstad and a run-scoring triple to right center by shortstop Miguel Tejada. First baseman Lance Berkman's sacrifice fly tied the score at 2-2.

Carlos Lee, whom Isringhausen might have better advised to pitch around, was the next hitter. Lee, who was five for 12 with two home runs against Isringhausen, won the game with a homer to left.

It was Isringhausen's second loss this week.

"The only thing you could fault him on," said manager Tony La Russa, "is he lost a little concentration and threw a ball down the middle to Lee."

Isringhausen said, "I made a couple of good pitches and a couple of bad pitches. It's my job to preserve the win and I just didn't do it. When you let down 25 guys, it's not a fun job."

Third baseman Troy Glaus fanned twice with the bases loaded in the first two innings and then came out of the game because his eyes were watering.

"It only happens at night but it doesn't happen defensively," said La Russa. "I'm not sure exactly what it is. I don't know how to explain it."

Glaus said, "It doesn't happen during the day or anywhere else. It's a little frustrating, certainly. It's never happened before."

Astros 3, Cardinals 2: The Cardinals lost for the fifth time in their last seven games and dropped their third straight at Busch Stadium. They managed just two runs off six hits and eight walks by Houston hurlers. They scored both runs in the first after three Shawn Chacon walks and those probably wouldn't have scored if third baseman Geoff Blum had fielded St. Louis second baseman Adam Kennedy's dribbler cleanly and thrown the ball accurately to second.

NOTES AND QUOTES

• RHP Ryan Franklin, posting his eighth "hold" of the season, pitched around a one-out single by RF Hunter Pence in the eighth before matters went awry for the Cardinals in the top of the ninth.

• CF Rick Ankiel fanned on a bad pitch with the tying run at third and one out in the ninth. He has scored just one runner out of eight from third base with fewer than two out.

• An infield single by 1B Albert Pujols in the second extended his streak of reaching base to 24 consecutive games—all the games the Cardinals have played.

• SS Cesar Izturis, who was hit near the right elbow by a pitch on Tuesday, took regular batting practice for the first time and, as far as his return to duty, he said, "I think we're almost there."

• The Cardinals have not homered for seven games.


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