The Cardinals Major League Notebook 09/26

The Cardinals concluded an unusual series with Arizona in which both teams were eliminated from postseason consideration. Joel Pineiro pitched one of his best games of the season in Thursday's 12-3 victory over the Diamondbacks.

The Cardinals were ousted as National League wild-card candidates even though they took three games out of four in the series. The Diamondbacks were eliminated from the National League West race, won by Los Angeles, when they fell in the series finale.

Joel Pineiro, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Thursday a week after the birth of twin sons Fabian and Adrian, evened his record at 7-7 -- he was 6-4 in two months with the Cardinals last year -- by pitching one of his best games of the season. Pineiro permitted just three hits and fanned seven in seven innings.

"That shows you what he's capable of doing," manager Tony La Russa said. "He had a lot of movement to both sides of the plate, he fielded the position, he was tough on the running game. The complete package."

The thought of Pineiro being in next year's rotation hasn't resonated with some fans, but pitching coach Dave Duncan said that's what is in his mind.

Asked if he thought Pineiro was better than 7-7 and his 5.15 ERA, Duncan said, "Absolutely.

"He's capable of being better than that, but he's got to learn to stay focused and not get distracted. That's something he's never really learned the importance of. I'm optimistic that next year (Pineiro has a two-year, $13 million contract) he's going to be the guy we thought he would be."

CARDINALS 12, DIAMONDBACKS 3: Albert Pujols drove in four runs, including three on his 35th homer, Ryan Ludwick popped his 36th homer and Cesar Izturis extended his hitting streak to eight games with three hits. The Cardinals, who won four of seven against Arizona, captured a season series from the Diamondbacks for the first time since 2005.


--1B Albert Pujols raised his average to .353, but that still is 12 points shy of Atlanta's Chipper Jones, whom Pujols is unlikely to catch by Sunday because an injured Jones probably won't play much this weekend at Houston. "Whatever he ends up with, he's had a monstrous season," manager Tony La Russa said of Pujols.

--3B Troy Glaus walked four times, tying his single-game best set with Anaheim in 2001.

--The back-to-back homers by 1B Albert Pujols and OF Ryan Ludwick in the seventh inning marked the sixth time the Cardinals had performed that feat this season, the last time coming Sept. 2 in Arizona from C Yadier Molina and INF Felipe Lopez. The victim in both cases was RHP Yusmeiro Petit.

--SS Cesar Izturis boosted his average to .264 with a 3-for-3 day. In his eight-game hitting streak, Izturis has gone 13-for-23.

--The Cardinals won three games in a row for only the second time since mid-August.

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