With right-hander Jason Isringhausen on the disabled list, officially because of a lacerated right hand but, in truth, because of a troubled psyche, rookie Chris Perez made his major league debut an impressive one.
Throwing in the high 90s consistently and 100 mph at least once, according to the radar, Perez pitched a hitless seventh inning, striking out one. Perez, who was 1-1 with eight saves and a 2.04 ERA at Memphis, is only 22. He was the 42nd overall pick in the 2006 draft out of the University of Miami.
Manager Tony La Russa, asked what he saw of Perez, said, "Composure. Good stuff. He wasn't throwing the ball back to the screen. I thought he was very impressive.
"He was an impressive pitcher in camp. And the impressive thing, too (in spring training), was that he knew we were looking at him closer and he didn't faint."
Admittedly, Isringhausen's injury, which was sustained when he took a couple of swats at a television set after a frustrating loss a week ago, is not a career-threatening one.
"They found some infection," said La Russa. "There's an issue there and it affects his grip some, but that definitely is not what anybody is pointing at as his problem."
Isringhausen, who was not at Busch Stadium on Friday, will take the weekend off and then go back to the Cardinals' spring training camp in Jupiter, Fla., to begin his rehabilitation.
"It's like a hitter who's in a slump. Get back to basics," said La Russa. "We were going to have to do something to get him right. There is a problem with his hand, but it's more short term."
RAYS 3, CARDINALS 1: Right-hander Braden Looper pitched around most of 10 hits allowed and two walks to permit Tampa Bay to score just three runs in his six innings. But Andy Sonnanstine blanked the Cardinals until left fielder Chris Duncan's solo homer in the eighth. First baseman Albert Pujols went hitless, snapping both his 14-game hitting streak and 42-game on-base streak.
--RHP Kyle Lohse, who was reported by manager Tony La Russa as having an "achy" shoulder, said he was good to go on Sunday. La Russa said he was happy to hear about it but still skeptical, so he had a long conversation with Lohse and the training staff before saying that Lohse, indeed, would be Sunday's starter.
--RHP Braden Looper threw 117 pitches, a career high. He has lost his last two starts.
--3B Troy Glaus collected just the 10th triple of his 11-season career.
--The loss was the first for the Cardinals against Tampa Bay. They swept a three-game interleague series in St. Petersburg, Fla., three years ago.
--The Cardinals have had 37 hits over the last three games but only five for extra bases.
BY THE NUMBERS: 292 -- Career saves by RHP Jason Isringhausen before he temporarily, at least, was supplanted as the Cardinals' closer.