The Cardinals Major League Notebook 05/02

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa charts the progress of his team in increments of how far above .500 it is. The first major milestone was reached Friday night when the Cardinals went plus-10 (17-7) as they smacked four homers at Washington.

"You combine (the offense) with the pitching we're getting right now ... it's a deadly combination," said right fielder Ryan Ludwick, whose homer snapped a one-for-13 skid.

Right-hander Todd Wellemeyer, the only Cardinals' starter to have lost this season, evened his record at 2-2 (the starters are 14-2) with seven strong innings, issuing only a two-run homer to center fielder Willie Harris in the seventh. That was the first homer allowed by Wellemeyer in five starts but he didn't give up the rash of hits (37 in 22 innings) that had accompanied his previous efforts.

After allowing only only five other hits in seven innings, Wellemeyer said he had "worked on a lot of stuff" with pitching coach Dave Duncan since his last start, a 10-3 loss to Chicago at home last Sunday.

"All my pitches were good (Friday night)," Wellemeyer said. "I had better location and better command."

Both of Wellemeyer's wins have come on the road, where his earned run average is 1.93, while his ERA is 8.44 at home. "I definitely know about (the home ERA)," he said,

"I want to take this back to Busch Stadium. I've been fine on the road."

CARDINALS 6, WASHINGTON 2: 1B Albert Pujols and LF Chris Duncan each had a single, double and a homer while 3B Joe Thurston cracked his first big-league homer and RF Ryan Ludwick hit his sixth of the season. The Cardinals had only four at-bats with men in scoring position, but one of those was a two-run homer by Duncan in the fourth off impressive rookie RHP Jordan Zimmerman.


• RHP Todd Wellemeyer never allowed more than two hits in any inning on Friday after giving up an average of nearly two hits an inning (37 in 22 innings) in his first four starts. "He got in an early groove and his concentration was great," said La Russa, who had become agitated at least once this season when he thought Wellemeyer had lost concentration.

• Cardinals starters finished April at 13-2. The relievers ended up 3-5 with five blown saves. But the bullpen has pitched much better after a rocky first couple of weeks.

• 1B Albert Pujols finished April with eight homers and 28 RBIs after clubbing a two-run homer in the first inning off Washington RHP Daniel Cabrera. Pujols had been 6-for-31 (.194) on the road before having two hits in each of his last two games.

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