The Cardinals Major League Notebook

When Ryan Ludwick hit his first two homers of the season, he rode the bench the next day.

Manager Tony La Russa has sought to involve all four of what he considers his regular outfielders in his early-season lineups. But chances are excellent that Ludwick, who homered again Wednesday in a 12-7 win at Arizona, will be back in the lineup Thursday when the Cardinals play at Wrigley Field.

Ludwick strangely was not used as a pinch hitter by La Russa with the bases loaded and the game tied in the ninth inning Tuesday. The Cardinals didn't score any more in that inning and then lost in 10 innings. But amid a continuing furor among Cardinals fans over his lack of opportunity Tuesday, Ludwick drove in three runs Wednesday as he kept his average at the .400 level.

Brendan Ryan had replaced Ludwick in the on-deck circle as the Cardinals tied Tuesday's game at 6-6 with one out, but he struck out on three pitches. La Russa said then that he was banking on Ryan having a better chance at putting the ball in play or staying out of the double play. But after Wednesday's game, La Russa was full of praise for Ludwick, who made the All-Star team last year and had 37 homers and 113 RBIs.

Speaking of Ludwick hitting fourth behind and offering protection to star Albert Pujols, La Russa said, "He can be huge for us all year. If he can pick up where he left off last year ... it could put Albert's bat in the game. (Ludwick) is a threat."

Wednesday's win left the team with a better feeling than Tuesday's events, when the Cardinals lost a game and lost Chris Carpenter. The right-hander, who has missed nearly two entire seasons with elbow and shoulder problems, went out in the fourth inning Tuesday after suffering a left ribcage strain while batting in the top of the inning.

Carpenter was placed on the disabled list Wednesday, and La Russa estimated he would sidelined a month or two.

CARDINALS 12, DIAMONDBACKS 7: The Cardinals went 7-for-19 with men in scoring position. C Yadier Molina, who rarely worked a count past three or four pitches in his early seasons, drew two walks and was 3-for-3, with one of his hits, driving in a run, coming after he saw eight pitches. RHP Joel Pineiro was just good enough to get through five innings and gain his second win, and his walk and stolen base sparked a five-run third inning that blew the game open.

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