The Cardinals Major League Notebook

The Cardinals began the season with their starting pitchers going 14-2. Then they went a combined 1-10 and now they've won four in a row, including two shutouts.

Todd Wellemeyer extended the starters' mastery to one run allowed in 29 2/3 innings as he spun six scoreless frames at the Kansas City Royals. Wellemeyer (4-4) had given up 12 hits and 11 runs in 10 innings over his last two starts and he did some soul searching for answers between last Sunday when Milwaukee mauled him for four runs in the first inning, and last night.

Wellemeyer threw not one, but two bullpen sessions between starts although he said he hadn't felt comfortable in either one. For another thing, he determined that he had to adjust his stride.

"I definitely think shortening my stride is huge," said Wellemeyer, who allowed four hits in six innings before lefty Trever Miller and, particularly, right-hander Jason Motte bailed him out of the seventh. "I made sure I stayed back on a lot of pitches and keep my body under control.

"Now, it's just the matter of getting that ‘doubt guy' out of my head and staying positive and just thinking about the next pitch. Keep it simple."

Entering the game in the seventh after Miller had induced a sacrifice bunt for the first out, Motte inherited a second-and-third situation. With the potential go-ahead run at the plate, Motte fanned both pinch-hitters, Willie Bloomquist and Billy Butler.

"That ball was jumping out of (Motte's) hands," said manager Tony La Russa. "That was exciting."

Cardinals 5, Royals 0: Limiting the Royals to five hits, the Cardinals have held the Chicago Cubs and Royals to 21 hits and two runs over the last four starts. RHP Todd Wellemeyer, who had walked seven in 5 2/3 innings in his previous start, walked only three and gave up four hits in six strong innings.

Notes, Quotes

• After a laser beam-shot by 1B Albert Pujols on Thursday broke the bulbs in the "I" in the Big Mac Land sign in front of the third deck in left field, a sign was placed underneath it Friday, which read, "Ouch! my "I."

—The Cardinals, who have led the National League's Central Division much of the season, have moved back to one game off the pace of the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers. The interleague win was the first for the Cardinals at Busch Stadium against the Royals since 2007 because Kansas City swept the three games played in St. Louis last June.

—The Cardinals will play nine of their 16 games against the Cubs at Busch Stadium this season. With the sweep in this week's series, they already have clinched the season series at home. They are 5-1 against the Cubs in St. Louis and 6-3 overall.

• 3B Brian Barden's homer was his first of the season at Busch Stadium. "I've only had one good game at home," he said. That was April 25, when Barden was 3-for-3 against Cubs LHP Sean Marshall. Marshall was the victim of Barden's homer Thursday.

• RHP Chris Carpenter is 8-3 with a 2.93 ERA against the Cubs. He also is 10-5 with a 1.84 ERA at the newest Busch Stadium. His next start will come Monday in Milwaukee.

By The Numbers: 11—Rookies who have played for the Cardinals this season. OF Nick Stavinoha, brought up from Class AAA Memphis, was the latest.

Roster Report

• SS Khalil Greene, relegated to bench duty as he and the club sort through his anxiety issues, delivered a two-run pinch single off RHP Kyle Farnsworth in the eighth, giving him three runs batted in for his last two pinch-hitting appearances. "I know he's been working," said manager Tony La Russa. "I think he feels better about his swing. He's got a great smile and we saw it today. It lightened up the dugout. You've got to take little, baby steps and hopefully get him going."

• RF Ryan Ludwick, who went on the disabled list on May 13 with a right hamstring strain, might return to the club sooner than CF Rick Ankiel, who was disabled May 15 after injuring his left side and right shoulder when he ran into an outfield wall. "I would never have thought it," La Russa said. "There is a chance (that would happen)." La Russa said Ankiel surely won't be activated this weekend with the Kansas City Royals in town.

Ludwick appears to be able to work out more extensively than Ankiel now and La Russa said he would take Ludwick on the trip to Milwaukee Monday before the club goes to San Francisco next weekend. La Russa said, "We're kind of holding our options open, but if his stroke is good enough, it's possible he may not need to go out (on a rehabilitation assignment)." On the other hand, La Russa said Ankiel might need some rehabilitation game time in the minors. "Ludwick is a more experienced hitter," said La Russa. "He's got a better idea of what he's doing. Rick's still learning."

• 1B Albert Pujols hiked his interleague play best batting average to .351 with one hit on Friday. Pujols is hitting .389 with 11 homers and 40 runs batted in for 37 interleague games against Kansas City, where Pujols went to high school and junior college.

• For the fifth game in succession and the eighth time this season, La Russa had a pitcher (RHP Todd Wellemeyer) hitting eighth and a position player (SS Brendan Ryan hitting ninth. The Cardinals have won their last four games with this configuration. Interestingly the pitchers are 0-for-15 while batting eighth. While batting ninth, Cardinals starting pitchers have 12 hits for the season. Position players hitting ninth are 3-for-22.

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