The Cardinals Major League Notebook 07/25

Manager Tony La Russa managed Thursday's game against the Brewers much like an NBA playoff game as he desperately tried to pull out one win in the four-game series.

He shortened his bullpen, as an NBA coach would shorten his bench. Instead of using four or five relievers as is his custom, La Russa bypassed such veterans as righty Jason Isringhausen and worked rookie righty Kyle McClellan and righty Ryan Franklin for more than three outs apiece. In the case of Franklin, a reliable eighth-inning man but an unsteady closer, it meant a second loss in the series. Holding onto a 3-2 lead in the ninth after he had retired both men he faced in the eighth, Franklin threw a bad 0-1 pitch to Ryan Braun, who hit a two-run homer that turned a Cardinals victory into a fourth straight defeat in the series.

La Russa had defended his bullpen the other night, saying the offense shared in the blame, too. He wouldn't address the issue Thursday night.

"You're not going to get me into that trap today," he said. "We got beat. We did as much as we could, and we got beat."

Todd Wellemeyer, the starter, had to labor through a fourth inning in which he walked four hitters and tossed 42 pitches. "He threw 20 or 30 more (pitches) than he should have thrown," said La Russa, apparently not happy with minor league umpire Todd Tichenor's strike zone.

"It's one of those things where you've got to be careful what you say or you get yourself in trouble," La Russa said. "I don't want to get in trouble."

The Cardinals took a long flight to New York after the game for the start of a seven-game trip to face the Mets and Braves. La Russa planned to do some pondering on the plane.

"It was a really difficult loss ... this whole series," he said. "I'll think about it tonight."

BREWERS 4, CARDINALS 3: The Cardinals lost on a Milwaukee home run in the final inning for the third time in the four-game series at Busch Stadium. LF Ryan Braun's 26th homer of the season, a two-run shot off RHP Ryan Franklin, erased a 3-2 Cardinals lead and left them four games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs and three games behind the second-place Brewers in the NL Central.


--RHP Ryan Franklin extended the Cardinals' major league high in blown saves to 24. The bullpen's loss was its 23rd, or almost half of the Cards' 47 defeats.

--The Cardinals hadn't been swept in a four-game series at home since Pittsburgh did it from July 3-6, 1997.

--1B Albert Pujols hasn't hit a home run since July 4, and he has only two since June 10.

--The Cardinals were the last major league team to endure a four-game losing streak.

--RHP Mitchell Boggs, a rookie, will start Friday night's series opener in New York. Boggs, who flew ahead of the team Thursday night, was chosen over veteran Brad Thompson, whom manager Tony La Russa said was the more experienced reliever. Boggs has won three starts on the road already this season. "It makes more sense to start Boggs in that game," La Russa said.

--Having played 39 one-run games already (they have won 21), the Cardinals already have had more one-run decisions than they had all last season, when then were 16-20.

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