Right-hander Joel Pineiro did what he has been doing pretty much all season, working another quality start Thursday. And this one was of top quality, as he pitched his third complete game of the season, again neither walking anyone nor allowing a home run.
In 17 starts, Pineiro, a deceiving 7-9, has walked just 12 hitters and allowed only three home runs, both figures leading the National League.
But for seven innings, it seemed as if Pineiro would be saddled with another tough-luck loss until the middle of the Cardinals lineup did what it's supposed to do.
Albert Pujols has been doing his part -- and more -- all season. After Brendan Ryan, who also had an outstanding game defensively, tripled home the tying run in the eighth, the Brewers pitched to Pujols after reliever Mitch Stetter walked Jason LaRue on five pitches.
With runners at first and third, Pujols doubled past third for the go-ahead run. Then Ryan Ludwick, who provided ample backup for Pujols last year with 37 homers and 113 RBIs, continued his revival from the cleanup spot. Ludwick cracked his second three-run homer of the series to put the game away. He now has 13 homers and 47 RBIs this year, a season punctuated by his missing more than two weeks with a hamstring strain.
"I tried to play catch-up," said Ludwick of a prolonged dry spell he had in May and June. He said he too often fell behind in the count and was swinging at "pitchers' pitches," instead of ones he could handle.
CARDINALS 5, BREWERS 1: The Cardinals took their second series of this three-city trip by winning the rubber game for the second time. Joel Pineiro, running his record to 7-9, threw a masterful three-hitter. "He's got all the talent in the world," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's pitched so much better than his record."
--Manager Tony La Russa, wanting to get the jump in the important four-game series that starts Friday at Wrigley Field, has moved ace RHP Chris Carpenter ahead of RHP Brad Thompson to start the first game. Carpenter will be pitching on normal four days' rest.
--3B Brett Wallace, the club's top draft pick last year, is hitting at .300 for Class AAA Memphis, and though the Cardinals have no regular third baseman at the moment, the club is resisting bringing him up. "He's starting to have some success at Triple-A, so we'd like him to build from that," GM John Mozeliak said. "If the need (to call him up) arises, then we'd do it. But we don't want to do anything premature that might damage him."
--RHP Kyle Lohse, having made two rehab starts, will start one of the games, likely the nightcap, in Sunday's day-night doubleheader at Wrigley Field. The Cardinals probably will trim a position player from the roster between games to go to 13 pitchers again. Lohse has been out since June 4 with a strained forearm flexor in his right arm.
BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- Seasons in which 1B Albert Pujols has hit 30 or more home runs. He has played only nine seasons in the majors.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You can fool
yourself as much as you want, with as much positive talk as you want. But until
you feel good doing something, then you aren't going to believe." --
Inconsistent RHP Todd Wellemeyer, after pitching one of his best games of the
season to beat
--SS Brendan Ryan, who had two hits and made three excellent plays Thursday, is settling in as the regular. But he says he is not "comfortable." Ryan said, "That's not a word you use around Tony (La Russa). It's more of a relief at the end of the day when (the game) is over. There's a lot of pressure."
--INF/OF Mark DeRosa, who has a partially torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, will be examined again after the All-Star break, with no guarantee of when he will be back. "It's an acute injury," general manager John Mozeliak said. "Some guys can play with it and some can't." The Cardinals are hoping to have DeRosa back before the end of the month.
--RHP Todd Wellemeyer had another poor start Wednesday, blowing a three-run lead and walking four in four innings, but he will remain in the rotation for the time being. "Right now, we don't have a whole lot of alternatives," GM John Mozeliak said.