The Cardinals Major League Notebook 06/27

Albert Pujols singled four times in four at-bats Thursday, raising his average to .358, in his first game after coming off the 15-day disabled list. He had been sidelined with a strained left calf.

"He's an amazing player," manager Tony La Russa said. "And every once in awhile, he gives you an example. There's one."

But the Cardinals were just 2-for-11 with men in scoring position, one of them Pujols' single in the ninth inning that gave the Cardinals a lead that proved to be all too brief. With Troy Glaus and Ryan Ludwick going 0-for-6 with men in scoring position, the Cardinals did not help their bullpen much after righty Todd Wellemeyer worked five shutout innings in his first start since having some elbow inflammation.

"I know we pitched our butts off," La Russa said. "You've got to give us a margin where we can mistakes."

Lefty Ron Villone and righty Mike Parisi both walked rookie left fielder Clete Thomas to force home runs, and righty Ryan Franklin allowed a game-tying homer by Detroit designated hitter Gary Sheffield in the ninth inning.

The loss was the 18th by the Cardinals bullpen, tying San Diego for the major league high, and Franklin's blown save was a major league-leading 19th for the Cardinals.

As for Pujols' comeback, the slugger said, "This doesn't surprise me. I work hard for it. I don't take anything for granted. Anything I do in this game, it never surprises me because I know how hard I worked for it."

TIGERS 3, CARDINALS 2 (10 innings): The Cardinals' extra-inning record fell to 4-7 when rookie RHP Mike Parisi walked LF Clete Thomas to force in the winning run in the 10th. Before Thomas walked, Parisi had issued an intentional walk to Detroit 1B Miguel Cabrera. The Cardinals managed just two runs on 14 hits, stranding 12.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--LHP Randy Flores, who has given up six runs and six walks over five innings in his last 10 appearances, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with tendinitis in his left ankle.

"Hopefully, (Flores) will be ready in five to seven days and he can go out on a couple of (minor league) assignments and be back with us in two weeks," manager Tony La Russa said.

--1B Albert Pujols came off the disabled list after a pregame meeting with manager Tony La Russa. Pujols returned as the designated hitter to take strain off his left calf. "It was a decision that he made and I went with it," said Pujols, whose preference had been to come back as a full-time first baseman. "Either way he went, it was fine." Pujols said he hoped to play in the field in Kansas City this weekend but that depends on if his legs feel as good as he said they did after Thursday's game in Detroit. "If I have to DH again (Friday), then I'll do it," he said. "No need to rush when you have the advantage of being the DH."

--LHP Mark Mulder, who has had back spasms on top of his long recovery from two shoulder surgeries, won't pitch Saturday. Manager Tony La Russa made the decision after watching Mulder throw a bullpen session. "He's not ready yet," La Russa said. "He made some good pitches and some that were up."

--Rookie RHP Mitchell Boggs will be the starter Saturday in Kansas City.

--RHP Todd Wellemeyer, making his first start in 13 days after suffering some renewed elbow inflammation, worked five shutout innings, giving up four hits. "It was good to get my elbow back where it needs to be," Wellemeyer said. "My arm was dropping and everything was flat."

--2B Adam Kennedy extended his hitting streak to six games (9-for-23), equaling his season high.


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