The Cardinals Major League Notebook 07/29

On a night when manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan re-installed veteran right-hander Jason Isringhausen as their closer, they didn't need him.

Right-hander Braden Looper, who had been winless in five straight starts, didn't walk anybody in a strong seven-inning performance and rookie left fielder Joe Mather had the first three-hit game of his career, including a two-run homer to start the scoring in the second inning.

The Cardinals jumped Atlanta right-hander Charlie Morton for eight runs in the first four innings, and La Russa said, "Looper did a good job of not letting them back in the game. He didn't change his approach once he got the runs."

First baseman Albert Pujols continued on his hitting jag. Pujols drove in three more runs, giving him seven over the last three games.

The win was just the second for the Cardinals in their last eight games.

"I think it could spark us," said Mather. "Maybe it can get us on a winning streak and take the pressure off losing all those games in the last week."

CARDINALS 12, BRAVES 3: Every Cardinals starter but RHP Braden Looper and 3B Troy Glaus hit safely as the Cardinals piled up 13 hits, including five for extra bases. LF Joe Mather hit his third homer, besides a double and a single, all coming in his first three at-bats.

NOTES AND QUOTES:

--RHP Braden Looper, the winner Monday night, had an 0-3 record and 5.57 earned run average in July, covering his previous four starts in the month.

--CF Rick Ankiel sat out a second consecutive start because of an abdominal strain. Manager Tony La Russa said Ankiel could hit but not run. Ankiel has been riding a nine-game hitting streak, hiking his average to .282.

--RHP Mitchell Boggs, who appeared twice in the recent New York series, including one start, was sent back to Class AAA Memphis and OF Nick Stavinoha was recalled. The Cardinals are down to 12 pitchers now.

--1B Albert Pujols, who was hitting .378 for his career at Turner Field in Atlanta, was 1-for-2 with two walks and a sacrifice fly.

--RHP Russ Springer, who got the last out of the eighth, has given up only two earned runs over his last 27 2/3 innings covering 35 appearances since May 8.

--Slow-footed C Yadier Molina circled the bases after hitting a two-run double in the third when the Braves overthrew home plate. Molina had been content to stop at second.

BY THE NUMBERS: 23 and 25 -- Number of bullpen losses and blown saves, respectively, for the Cardinals, as they hit the two-thirds mark of the season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Once I start spinning the ball with authority, then I'm pretty close to returning." -- RHP Adam Wainwright, on the rehabilitation trail after suffering a sprained middle finger on his pitching hand.


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