Sunday Morning Coffee with Ray Mileur

The Cardinals, whose playoff hopes continue to fade, trail National League wild-card leader Milwaukee by five games with 14 to play. The Brewers lost 7-3 at Philadelphia.

The Pittsburgh Pirates rallied from a four run deficit to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-6 Saturday night.

Starter Adam Wainwright had his first disappointing start, since coming off the DL. Wainwright, who had pitched effectively in four previous starts, with the Cardinals winning all four games, went four-plus innings and allowed six runs and nine hits, before turning the game over to the bullpen.

The bullpen, which has taken a lot of heat this season, with just cause, with 30 losses and 30 blown saves, was tagged for their 31st loss on the season to lead the majors. That said, the bullpen pitched six shutout innings, before closer Chris Perez retired the first two batters in the 12th inning before walking Adam LaRoche and allowing an RBI double to Brandon Moss.

Perez, likely the Cardinals closer for 2009, saw his record fall to 3-3 on the season after being burned for the 12th inning loss to the Pirates. It was St. Louis' fourth straight loss and 10th in 14 games.

Regardless of what happens in Sunday's game, the last-place Pirates improved to 9-7 against the Cardinals and clinched the season series.

Say what you want about Felipe Lopez's defense playing in the infield at times, but Lopez has contributed significantly with the bat since joining the Cardinals. Saturday night he hit a two run homer, his third home run with St. Louis to go with a .363 batting average, through his first 28 games with the Cardinals.

NOTES AND QUOTES:

Yadier Molina: is expected to return to the Cardinals' lineup Sunday. Molina is having a solid season at the plate and is currently 9th in the National League with a .306 batting average. He has hit safely in 21 of his last 24 games (.318, 28-for- 88). Molina's 135 hits are the most by a Cardinals catcher since Ted Simmons had 140 in 1980. Going into Saturday's play, Molina was 2nd in Majors to Twins' Joe Mauer (.331) in batting avg. among catchers (min. 400 AB's).

… Silver and Gold: MLB managers & coaches received ballots this week for both the Hillerich & Bradsby Silver Slugger Awards and the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards. Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols should receive strong consideration for both N.L. honors at 1st base (leads NL 1st basemen with .361 BA & .996 fielding pct.) and Troy Glaus (NL best .984 fielding pct.) should garner Gold Glove attention at 3rd base. Outfielder Ryan Ludwick should get considerations, as should Skip Schumaker, Yadier Molina, Cesar Izturis, Braden Looper and Kyle Lohse.

… Rain Men: Friday night's rain delayed start was the 16th rain delay that the Cardinals have endured this season. The Cardinals have sat through 17 hrs & 2 minutes of rain delays this year, and have had two games, including their season opener, rained out.

… Batavia Muckdogs: the New York-Penn League Championship Series game, scheduled at Batavia Saturday night was rained out. Game Two will be played on Sunday at Batavia, weather permitting.

Brad Thompson: Will make his 5th start of the season Sunday, taking the turn of Kyle Lohse who is out for MLB suspension. Thompson is 2-2, 3.05 ERA in his four starts this season. The Cardinals have won 16 of his 22 career starts

… NL Batting Title Race: Albert Pujols went 1-for-5 Saturday night's loss to Pittsburg, while Chipper Jones did not play. Pujols is currently hitting .359, three points back of Chipper Jones, who is hitting .362.

Rick Ankiel: The Cardinals have decided to shut down Ankiel for the rest of the season. Bothered by his abdominal injury for the past seven weeks, Ankiel saw a specialist on Friday, receiving an injection and giving the club a strong indication that he will undergo the surgery during the offseason. The recovery time is expected to be about five weeks, so Ankiel should be ready for spring training without any problem.

Chris Carpenter: The Cardinals have also decided to shut down Carpenter for the rest of the season, a wise decision, he'll be ready for the 2009 campaign.

 



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