The Cardinals offense continued to struggle in the absence of Albert Pujols, out with a strained left calf. In the past five games, St. Louis has scored three runs or fewer four times. Catcher Yadier Molina, although not seriously hurt, still was out with a concussion, but manager Tony La Russa said, "I think it's fair to say the games count. And what we've got, we've to compete with and win with. That's the fairest statement to make because that's what we need to hear. That's got to be our approach."
On the plus side, Joel Pineiro, two games removed from a stint on the disabled list, matched his season high by pitching seven innings, allowing just one run. Asked if Pineiro could have gone longer, La Russa said, "I thought he'd had enough. I think he had reached the point where he had given us what he had."
Also, Jason Isringhausen made his first appearance in more than a month (he had been disabled with a lacerated hand and frayed confidence) and worked around an error to pitch a scoreless ninth.
Villone "just got a changeup up," La Russa said. "It's a mistake, and (Aviles) capitalized. Sometimes you get away with it."
ROYALS 2, CARDINALS 1: The Cardinals had just one hit with a man in scoring position, and that hit didn't score a run. A double-play groundout by Brendan Ryan in the third accounted for the only St. Louis scoring. Nobody had more than one of the Cardinals' five hits, and St. Louis had two runners on base in only two innings.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--C Yadier Molina took part in some pregame activities and is lobbying to play Wednesday night, just three days after suffering a mild concussion in a home-plate collision. Manager Tony La Russa is likely to hold him out until the weekend in Boston.
--RHP Chris Carpenter, who saw Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday, got the go-ahead to resume throwing in Jupiter, Fla., at the Cardinals' spring training base. No new damage was found in Carpenter's surgically repaired elbow.
--1B Albert Pujols, out with a strained left calf, appears to be improving nicely and took some groundballs in the field.
--RHP Todd Wellemeyer won't make Thursday's start for the Cardinals against Kansas City. He will rest an ailing elbow, and he'll be replaced by RHP Anthony Reyes, who will make his first start of the season.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 in 8 -- Number of consecutive home runs allowed in eight pitches to the Philadelphia Phillies by RHP Todd Wellemeyer in the first inning on June 13.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm excited there will be a whole season when I'll be back and I'll contribute." -- 1B Albert Pujols, happy his strained left calf isn't so bad that he might be able to play by the end of June.