Cardinals Major League Notebook: 07/23/09

St. Louis is swept in Houston as the Cards and Ryan Franklin lost the lead in the ninth.



It had been two months and two days since Ryan Franklin had allowed an earned run. But when he did, in the ninth inning Wednesday, he allowed two runs, and the Cardinals found themselves swept on the road for the first time this season.


Chris Carpenter worked eight strong innings, and third base coach Jose Oquendo gambled twice successfully in the Cardinals' two-run seventh inning. But Franklin blew only his second save out of 24 opportunities, and the Cardinals' lead shriveled to just one game over Houston and Chicago.


The biggest problem in the Astros' ninth was that Franklin made a poor 0-2 pitch to Chris Coste, who, after failing to bunt, doubled home the tying run.


"That was a mistake," Franklin said. "I was trying to be quick to the plate, but I didn't have to be quick to the plate."


The loss was Franklin's first of the season.


"That's the tough thing about this job. You know you're not going to be perfect," he said. "If you give up runs, you're going to lose.


"It kind of (stinks) more because we just lost two in a row. But we play them again (next weekend). I'll do better the next time."


On the plus side for the Cardinals is that they have another ace, Adam Wainwright, ready for Thursday night's makeup game at Washington. Wainwright flew ahead of the team's game in Houston so that he would get more rest while the team would fly late into the night.


Another plus is the hitting of Mark DeRosa, who hammered his third homer in two nights as he continued his mastery over Houston's Roy Oswalt, against whom DeRosa is hitting over .400 for his career.


ASTROS 4, CARDINALS 3: The Cardinals lost a game when leading after eight innings for just the second time in 50 games Wednesday. SS Miguel Tejada capped Houston's two-run, ninth-inning rally with an RBI single. "It looked like we were going to get a great win, and we ended up with a tough loss," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "Sometimes, you've got to give the other side credit."




• OF Chris Duncan, mired in a 1-for-31 slump, was traded to Boston (along with a player to be named) for SS Julio Lugo, who had been designated for assignment last week. Earlier in the day, it was announced that Duncan would be optioned to Class AAA Memphis and that INF Brian Barden would be brought up from that Class AAA team. "(Duncan) had been struggling, but I have a good memory of what he's done for our club," manager Tony La Russa said. "At the same time, we're a little thin in the infield, and Lugo's a good pickup for us." Lugo is erratic defensively but a .271 lifetime hitter who still has good speed. The Cardinals don't have to pay a cent of the $13.5 million still due Lugo, who is signed for next year, too.


Duncan's father, Dave Duncan, had some pointed commentary about the trade.


"The way I look at it is he was traded for a player who had very little (leverage)," Dave Duncan said. "He was designated for assignment. It's highly unusual for a major league roster player to be traded for somebody like that. So somebody wanted to get him out of the organization, and they've accomplished what they wanted to accomplish.


"Either that or we don't have anybody in the minor leagues that they wanted for (Lugo). One or the other."


• C Jason LaRue, who had success in handling erratic RHP Todd Wellemeyer earlier in the season, was catching again Tuesday, but his presence didn't seem to make much difference. Wellemeyer hasn't made it past the fifth inning in his last two starts and three of the last four.


• The Cardinals defense, generally sharp lately, committed three errors Tuesday, two of them were by pitchers.


By The Numbers:   32—Career pickoffs for C Yadier Molina, through July 19.


Quote to Note:   "As long as I can go out there and not think about it, I should be fine. I want to get to the point where the wrist does not consume my every thought at the plate."—INF/OF Mark DeRosa, returning to action after being disabled with a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist.




• OF Colby Rasmus ended an 0-for-13 slide with a fourth-inning single Wednesday. But he failed to bunt 2B Skip Schumaker to third after the latter doubled to open the sixth. Rasmus' bunt didn't make it out of the dirt in front of the plate, and Schumaker was gunned down at third, even though it appeared he was safe. "Colby's a better bunter than that," manager Tony La Russa said. "He can't leave it there."


• OF Rick Ankiel, who had been 2-for-32 entering the Houston series, had a single Wednesday and finished the series 3-for-9. With OF Chris Duncan having been traded to Boston on Wednesday, Ankiel will be the left fielder more often than not.


• 1B Albert Pujols, swinging at pitches earlier in the count than usual, was held to two singles in 11 at-bats for the Houston series.


• 3B Mark DeRosa finished the Houston series 5-for-11 after going 0 for his first 15 with the Cardinals. DeRosa still feels some movement in his left wrist (he had a torn tendon sheath), but manager Tony La Russa said, "He's a player. This is what he's done his whole career."

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