The Cardinals Major League Notebook 06/12

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Braden Looper (41) shakes hands with pitching coach Dave Duncan, left, after Looper pitched a complete game shutout allowing only three hits against the Reds, Wednesday night in Cincinnati.

The best antidote for losing Albert Pujols for at least three weeks with a left calf strain was the first complete game and shutout of Braden Looper's 619-game career. And, five runs in the first inning.

"You can't replace Albert Pujols," Looper said, "but you can't try to do more. You just do your job."

Looper's job after he got the big lead -- courtesy of a three-run homer by Rick Ankiel and a two-run homer by Jason LaRue -- was to throw strikes. He didn't walk anybody in hurling a three-hit, 98-pitch gem.

"He deserves a ton of credit," manager Tony La Russa said. "We played a good, solid game, but the guy who deserves the majority of the credit is the pitcher."

For the second night in succession, both Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick homered. Ludwick has 12 of his homers and 37 of his 52 RBIs on the road this season, both figures leading the National League.

The Cardinals were flawless defensively, with second baseman Aaron Miles and new first baseman Chris Duncan both turning in stellar plays.

"Obviously, it's a big hit (losing Pujols)," LaRue said. "But this team is capable of winning without him."

CARDINALS 10, REDS 0: The Cardinals wrapped up their third straight series win on the current three-city trip and now are 14-3-5 in 22 series this year. They took advantage of eight walks by Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto and hit three homers -- by Rick Ankiel, Ryan Ludwick and Jason LaRue.


--General manager John Mozeliak said, "It's rather good news," to the word that 1B Albert Pujols, who went down with a calf strain on Tuesday, would miss a minimum of three weeks. There had been fear he would be out the rest of the season.

"It's something that should quiet down in the next four or five days," Mozeliak said.

--OF/1B Chris Duncan was recalled from Class AAA Memphis, and he will fill in for 1B Albert Pujols. He filled the roster spot vacated when RHP Adam Wainwright went on the 15-day disabled list. Pujols was not immediately placed on the DL.

--RHP Jason Isringhausen, in what probably was his final rehab game, worked 1 2/3 innings at Class AA Springfield, allowing one hit and fanning two. Isringhausen, who has been healing a lacerated right hand and rebuilding his confidence since being disabled nearly four weeks ago, will throw on the sideline Friday in St. Louis and likely will be activated next week.

--INF Cesar Izturis ended an 0-for-18 slide with a ninth-inning single.

--C Jason LaRue, a former Reds player, hit his first homer of the season and briefly got his average to the .200 mark before making an out in his final at-bat.

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