The Cardinals Major League Notebook 06/06

Todd Wellemeyer is the surprise pitching star of the season. Wellemeyer, working six scoreless innings in the first game of a day-night doubleheader Thursday, held Washington to five hits and one walk in six innings for his seventh win in eight decisions.

The converted reliever has given up only seven earned runs over his last 38 innings covering six games for an ERA of 1.66.

He was pulled after just 79 pitches Thursday. Manager Tony La Rsusa said, "I thought it was enough. It looked to me like he was laboring a little."

Wellemeyer said the humidity and heat were noticeable, but he added, "It wasn't too bad. I was going to last as long as I could. I didn't know whether I was going to go more or not considering the doubleheader, but I'm not going to question it."

Pulling Wellemeyer for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning had an immediate effect. Albert Pujols, resting his strained left calf, clouted the first pinch homer of his career to give the Cardinals a three-run lead.

The Cardinals nearly pulled off an improbable doubleheader sweep. They spotted the Nationals a seven-run lead in the nightcap but fought back on a two-run double by righty Mike Parisi and a three-run homer by rookie righty Mark Worrell in his first major league at-bat. They tied the score with two outs in the ninth and then went ahead on rookie Joe Mather's homer in the 10th before the new closer, righty Ryan Franklin, misplaced a slider to Elijah Dukes for a two-run game-loser in the bottom of the 10th.

The second game was marked by a second straight poor start by rookie Parisi, who allowed eight runs for the second game in a row without pitching past the fourth.

"I was pretty much all over the place again," he said.

La Russa admired his team's comeback in the second game.

"It was a really brutal game to lose, but you've got to feel great about the effort," he said. "I'm thrilled by this team. They've been like this all year."

CARDINALS 4, NATIONALS 1 (first game): The Cardinals got to 11 games over .500 for the first time since September 2006 with the victory. Troy Glaus, who had only two homers in his first 55 games, hit his third in his last five games in the fourth inning.

NATIONALS 10, CARDINALS 9 (second game, 10 innings): Troy Glaus hit his fourth homer in six games but Ryan Franklin allowed his second of the season, a game-winner to Nationals right fielder Elijah Dukes in the bottom of the 10th. Until Franklin lost the game in the 10th, Cardinals relievers had pitched five scoreless innings.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--CF Rick Ankiel was sent back to the team hotel to rest an infected right knee for the second consecutive day. It's an injury he suffered while making a diving catch Sunday. He reported in time for the nightcap but didn't play. He is questionable for the Houston series this weekend.

--1B Albert Pujols, who rested a strained calf except for pinch-hitting in each game, should be ready this weekend.

--The Cardinals' first-game win ensured the series victory. They are 12-3-5 in their first 20 series and they finished the season series 5-1 against Washington.

--3B Troy Glaus made the first start of his career at first base in the first game and repeated in the second game. He homered in both games and generally played adequate defense.

--RHP Ryan Franklin, who had had some exciting saves lately, posted his fifth in his last five tries with a perfect ninth inning but then blew his third save in the 10th inning of the second game. He retired neither hitter he faced in the nightcap.

--RHP Mark Worrell, batting for only the third time as a professional and first time as a big-leaguer, hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning of the second game. "When I was running around the bases, I felt like I was in a dream," Worrell said.

--The Cardinals' first draft pick Thursday was beefy 3B Brett Wallace, an All-American at Arizona State. He may not be able to play third base at the big-league level, though, and Albert Pujols may still be at first base when Wallace would reach the majors.


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