The Cardinals Major League Notebook 06/26

In a game delayed by rain for 2 hours and 25 minutes, Rick Ankiel hit two solo homers and drove in a third run with a sacrifice fly. Ankiel also scored three runs, but the Cardinals blew four leads -- in the second, fourth, seventh and eighth innings, then lost in the ninth.

"(Ankiel) had a great day, but his team lost. That's how we look at it," manager Tony La Russa said.

Kyle McClellan (0-3), who blew the save in the eighth on a bloop single by Detroit's Magglio Ordonez, got into trouble immediately in the ninth when Clete Thomas doubled.

"It's tough to pitch around leadoff doubles," said McClellan, who then allowed a game-losing single to Gary Sheffield.

Kyle Lohse, riding a career-high, six-game winning streak, was off that recent form Wednesday, being tagged for 11 hits and five runs in just four innings. His winning streak, however, remained alive.

After Lohse, then pitching with Minnesota, won five of his first six career decisions against the Tigers, he has gone 2-5 with an 8.08 ERA against them.

TIGERS 8, CARDINALS 7: RHPs Jason Isringhausen and Kyle McClellan both blew saves, and LHP Randy Flores, having a terrible time lately, allowed a single to the only man he faced as the Cardinals bullpen again had problems. Half of the team's losses, 17, have come from the bullpen, which has 18 blown saves, the most in the majors.


--1B Albert Pujols said he expects to come off the 15-day disabled list to play Thursday in the series finale with the Tigers.

"Something crazy has to happen between here and tomorrow for me not to play," Pujols said Wednesday.

--LHP Mark Mulder said his back spasms had receded but there appears only a slight likelihood that he would pitch Saturday in Kansas City, as manager Tony La Russa had hoped. Mulder has been on a rehab option as he tries to regain form following two shoulder surgeries.

--La Russa benched his most productive hitter on the roster Wednesday night when he sat OF Ryan Ludwick and his 16 home runs and 56 RBIs. "It just looks like he's mentally whipped," La Russa said. And Ludwick, 2 for his last 21, largely agreed.

"I think (La Russa) is 100 percent right," Ludwick said. "Sometimes, you need not just a regular day off but a day off at the field -- where you can sit back and watch the game and kind of relax."

Ludwick came in for defense in the late innings but did not bat.

--RHP Russ Springer, who was relegated to lesser assignments for a while, has pitched himself back into prominence. In his last 10 outings, Springer has held hitters to just three hits in 32 at-bats. He had worked in four consecutive games before being rested Wednesday.

"I like a lot of work," Springer said. "I'm usually at my best when I'm right on the border of being overworked."

--RHP Chris Perez worked two scoreless innings Wednesday after being sent back to the hotel with a case of the flu on Tuesday.

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