The Cardinals Major League Notebook 08/25

Manager Tony La Russa, looking for a spark on a hot Sunday afternoon, rested left-handed-hitting outfielders Skip Schumaker and Rick Ankiel, who have hit .171 and .226, respectively, against left-handed pitchers.

Facing Atlanta left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes, right-handed-hitting outfielders Brian Barton and Joe Mather combined for four hits and four runs batted in but Barton, who was 3-for-3, went out in the sixth with a strained right oblique and might not be too much help for a while.

La Russa is worried. "(When), in baseball, do you not use your side?" he asked. "Run, hit, throw, catch. And he runs hard. So, I'm definitely concerned about it."

Barton, who aggravated a previous condition while running out a bunt single, said, "It's one of those unfortunate things that happen. It's a little uncomfortable right now. Hopefully, in the next 24 to 48 hours, we'll have a better feel for it."

Barton, a Rule V choice, has a .269 average for 130 at-bats with the Cardinals, and his playing time here has been curtailed even more by a right wrist fracture, although he got a chance to play three weeks in the minors on a rehabilitation option.

"I've always had the utmost confidence in my ability," said the 26-year-old Barton, "and I feel I can help any team, if given an opportunity. I was watching the Olympics and they were interviewing Michael Phelps. I guess I'm paraphrasing but he said something like "a great player is determined by how he does when the odds are against him.

"If I want to be that great player and the odds are stacked against me because I'm not playing a lot, I've got to shine."

Besides the help the Cardinals received from the two rookie outfielders, first baseman Albert Pujols was his customary devastating self, hitting a two-run homer as part of an 8-for-10 weekend performance. His batting average is at .359 now, virtually tying him with Atlanta 3B Chipper Jones for the major league lead.

CARDINALS 6, BRAVES 3: For the sixth consecutive time, Cardinals RHP Braden Looper, who tied his career high set last year of 12 wins, worked seven innings Sunday. Looper gave up three runs or fewer for the sixth straight time, and he has a 2.30 earned run average for those six starts. The Cardinals remained 3 1/2 games behind wild-card leader Milwaukee.


--Rookie RH reliever Chris Perez gained his fifth save and third of more than three outs when he set down the final four hitters he faced Sunday. "I've thrown twice in the last nine days, so I'm definitely fresh," said Perez.

--RHP Chris Carpenter, recovering from a shoulder strain, went through another bullpen session. "I felt stronger than I did (Friday)," said Carpenter.

His next session, which will be conducted with more intensity, will take place on Wednesday. "We want to make sure it's right before I do anything else," Carpenter said.

--The Cardinals won the season series from the Braves, 5-2, outscoring them by 59-31.

--1B Albert Pujols has driven in nine runs in his last four games.

--OF Brian Barton's bunt single in the sixth was just the Cardinals' third bunt hit of the year. INF Aaron Miles has the other two.

BY THE NUMBERS: 293 -- Number of saves with which RH reliever Jason Isringhausen, out for the season with a torn tendon near his right elbow, will finish the season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's hard to believe he could have been that sharp with that much time missed." -- Manager Tony La Russa, on the return of RHP Adam Wainwright to the rotation.

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