"He just got better and better," said manager Tony La Russa.
The Cardinals acquired the 29-year-old Wellemeyer on waivers from Kansas City in May of last year. He made his first start for them exactly a year ago to the day on Friday and the Cardinals are 16-7 in his 23 starts since then.
Wellemeyer had never started in the majors for the Chicago Cubs or Kansas City but had started in the minors and Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan saw him enough in his early days for the Cardinals to suggest trying him as a starter.
"It was totally Dave's idea," said La Russa, smiling. "I had nothing to do with it. But now that it works, I'm probably going to start including myself now."
The Cardinals went 10 games over .500 for the second time this season. They were 22-12 on May 6.
CARDINALS 5, PIRATES 4: Right-hander Ryan Franklin, after giving up a bases-loaded double to pinch hitter Jason Michaels in the ninth, got center fielder Nate McLouth to tap to the mound for the final out and his fifth save. Rookie right-fielder Joe Mather made the defensive play of the night with a diving catch on Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche with a man on in the second inning. First baseman Albert Pujols homered for the third time in four games.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--Although he is among LF Chris Duncan's biggest defenders, manager Tony La Russa said it was "totally my decision" to send the lefthanded-hitting outfielder to Class AAA Memphis to make room for right-handed-hitting OF Joe Mather. "The front office didn't say a word," said La Russa of the move to send Duncan out so that Duncan could get some consistent at-bats. The Cardinals will face five left-handed pitchers in the next week, so Duncan, who is 2-for-18 against southpaws, wouldn't have played much.
"I just look at it as, 'What's the best chance to get this guy right?'" said La Russa. "And I think it's playing. He needs to play."
Mather singled in his fourth at-bat for his first hit but his diving catch in the second stopped the Pirates when they were threatening to retake the lead. "He got a great jump and he closed on it really well," said La Russa.
"He does everything above average. So if he hits, he's a player."
--RHP Matt Clement, still recovering from 2006 shoulder surgery, will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment at Class A Palm Beach on Tuesday.
--RHP Chris Carpenter (elbow surgery), RHP Brad Thompson (elbow inflammation) and RHP Jason Isringhausen (lacerated right hand) are scheduled to throw in simulated games on Saturday at the Cardinals' minor league complex in Jupiter, Fla. Thompson is believed to be close to going on a rehab assignment.
--Third baseman Troy Glaus is stuck in a 1-for-19 dive after hiking his average to .285.