The Redbird Report 05/15

Todd Wellemeyer carried a one-hit shutout into the eighth inning.

The Cardinals generally have prospered in the last two seasons when Todd Wellemeyer, a converted reliever, has started the game. They were 14-6 behind Wellemeyer, and many of those wins have been derived from the offense as much as from Wellemeyer.

But on Wednesday against Pittsburgh, it was mostly Wellemeyer, who pitched his best game as a Cardinal. The right-hander carried a one-hit shutout into the eighth inning before allowing a single and being replaced.

Wellemeyer and three relievers, including Jason Isringhausen, stopped a slide in which the Cardinals had dropped six out of seven games.

"He gave us what we needed," manager Tony La Russa said. "(The Pirates) are as hot as anybody, and he shut them down. Of course, he got a little help. That play (Rick Ankiel) made turned everybody on, I think."

The Cardinals center fielder, a converted starting pitcher, already had shown off his strong arm in recent games, but he stole a home run from Adam LaRoche by thrusting his glove above the center field wall to snatch a second-inning drive.

Wellemeyer has given up only three earned runs in his last 18 innings covering three starts. La Russa said one of the differences this year is that Wellemeyer was conditioned to being a starter rather than being shoved into it last season.

"He's getting a little stronger," La Russa said. "And you can't get distracted. You can't let your mind wander anywhere between innings, and he's doing a better and better job of concentrating. That's a skill that starting pitchers have to acquire.

"It's totally different from last year. He's got a legitimate chance to compete here. Last year, it was really a push, and it was amazing what he did. His elbow got a little sore probably because there wasn't a perfect way to get him ready."

CARDINALS 5, PIRATES 1: Though they stranded a season-high (for a regulation game) 15 runners, the Cardinals did enough clutch hitting Wednesday night. They scored two runs on sacrifice flies and another on a forceout grounder. On four of five occasions with a runner at third and fewer than two outs, the Cardinals delivered the runner. 3B Troy Glaus, seven for his last 14 over four games, had three hits, as did SS Cesar Izturis.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--LHP Tyler Johnson, a 2006 postseason hero who hadn't pitched all spring, will miss the rest of the season after undergoing arthroscopic shoulder surgery in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The surgery, which dealt with scar tissue, will require a minimum of six months' recovery time.

--3B Troy Glaus, after seeing his average drop to .220, has seven hits in his last 14 at-bats, plus four walks, over four games. Glaus, who had trouble seeing the ball earlier in the season, said he has eye drops and glasses available but hasn't had to use them for the last 10 days. "If it happens again, I've got resolutions for it, but for the last six or seven games, it's been fine," Glaus said.

--Former Cardinals reliever Mike Perez, working under Major League Baseball vice president Bob Watson as a liaison for Latin American players, met with Cardinals C Yadier Molina before Wednesday's game. A decision is expected soon on whether Molina will be suspended for strewing equipment after being ejected from Monday's game in Milwaukee. "That was the first ejection of his career," manager Tony LaRussa said. "He's been not just a solid citizen but an exemplary citizen. That's got to count for something. It usually does. Did he go too far? Probably. But I'd say he's been more than a solid citizen."

--RHP Jason Isringhausen finished Wednesday's game with a perfect ninth inning, although he did qualify for a save. Manager Tony La Russa isn't quite ready to restore him to the closer's role. "I thought he did very well," La Russa said. "He's still working on stuff. It's a long season. We don't have to rush him back."

--RHP Brad Thompson, out with an elbow ailment, played long toss from 120 feet before Wednesday's game. "I'm not too far out from being in a game somewhere," said Thompson, who expects to go on a rehabilitation assignment reasonably soon.

--LHP Mark Mulder felt no ill effects Wednesday after his Tuesday throwing session. Manager Tony La Russa is optimistic but only to the point where he said, "I think he'll pitch before the All-Star Game." That game is set for July 15.


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