The Cardinals Major League Notebook 05/04

Manager Tony La Russa didn't want to waste starting pitcher Kyle Lohse during a series of potential rain delays Sunday and, as it turned, out he didn't.

La Russa changed to Kyle McClellan as his scheduled starter in Washington, preparing for what he would call a "bullpen" game. But the game was rained out so Lohse now will start against Philadelphia at home on Monday night.

With La Russa keeping his starters in rotation, Lohse will pitch Monday and Adam Wainwright will be pushed back to Tuesday in the two-game set with Philadelphia. This means that rookie Mitchell Boggs will face Pittsburgh on Wednesday, instead of opposing the Phillies, as had been scheduled.

However La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan have managed the rotation this sesaon has paid dividends. After 25 games, the Cardinals' rotation has the best mark in the majors at 14-3 and two starters, Lohse and Wainwright, are unbeaten at 3-0 while Joel Pineiro lost for the first time in five starts on Saturday.

The rainout Sunday gave first baseman Albert Pujols, who sat out Saturday's game with achy legs, another day off although Pujols was scheduled to play Sunday. "Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good," said La Russa. "Most of the time it is." Not scheduled to play again was shortstop Khalil Greene, who will have his strained right forearm examined in St. Louis on Monday.

Catcher Yadier Molina, who has started 22 of the first 25 games, also could use the day off from Sunday. No makeup date has been announced for the game The Cardinals are through, officially, in Washington for the season but the Nationals do have a series in St. Louis in August.

CARDINALS, NATIONALS (PPD, rain): Sunday's game was rained out. No make-up date was announced.


• When rookie LF Colby Rasmus homered on Saturday, it marked the second straight day on which a Cardinals rookie had hit his first big-league home run. 3B Joe Thurston had homered on Friday for the first time in 124 at-bats. Rasmus, who needed 62 at-bats, was using a Brendan Ryan model for his first homer. Ryan is on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.

• The Cardinals lost 31 games out of the bullpen and also blew 31 saves last season. Through 25 games this year, they have blown five saves and suffered five bullpen losses, but they also have recorded nine saves, and veteran RHP Ryan Franklin is seven for seven in save opportunities. "It's something I know I can do," said Franklin. "It's just a matter of if they thought I was the best fit for the role."

• The Cardinals' gaudy—in these days—3.53 earned run average is a reflection of eight of their 13 active pitchers having ERAs under 3.30, let alone injured RHP Chris Carpenter, who didn't allow an earned run in 10 innings.

By The Numbers: 1—Number of extra-base hits (a double by SS Brendan Ryan) out of the 20 hits the Cardinals had in Atlanta, where they won two of three games.

Quote To Note: "He was always the guy. These guys we're developing as closers… they weren't there yet."—Manager Tony La Russa on his preference for veteran RHP Ryan Franklin as his closer rather emerging young RHPs Jason Motte and Chris Perez.

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