Cardinals Major League Notebook: 07/30/09

Joel Pineiro and Blake Hawksworth pitched the Cardinals to their third straight win over the Dodgers in a 15-inning marathon at Busch Stadium on Wednesday night.



Rookie Blake Hawksworth may have staved off a return trip to Class AAA Memphis with a strong three-inning relief effort Wednesday. He earned his first big-league victory as the Cardinals finally overcame the Dodgers in 15 innings.


Hawksworth was passed over for Mitchell Boggs, who still technically is at Memphis, to make a start on Friday against Houston in place of Todd Wellemeyer. Hawksworth may have been the pitcher going out that day, but probably not now.


An exhausted manager Tony La Russa said after the nearly five-hour struggle Wednesday, "By my count, there were about three different games."


The first was another brilliant start by Joel Pineiro, who remains at a seemingly pedestrian 9-9 despite having a 2.84 ERA. But Pineiro, though he gave up just one run in eight innings, was destined to lose until rookie CF Colby Rasmus, who had been 2-for-30, hit a broken-bat single to tie the game in the ninth.


Rasmus was left with only a sliver of bat in his hands, but he said, "I hit it. That's all that matters to me. I put it in play."


The final hero was Albert Pujols, who has done these sorts of things before. Pujols had two hits in his first two at-bats, including a double, his first extra-base hit in 40 at-bats. But he was quiet after that, including a strikeout against former Cardinals right-hander Jeff Weaver, before Weaver tried to get Pujols out a second time in the 15th inning. He didn't, and Pujols hit a game-winning single.


Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (15 innings): The Cardinals have taken the first three games of this four-game series and have held Los Angeles to three runs in 33 innings. SS Brendan Ryan legged out a triple to open the 15th inning, and even though he eventually was thrown out at the plate, that hit set up 1B Albert Pujols' game-winning single over the head of CF Matt Kemp.




• Even though the Cardinals were 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position Wednesday, their clutch hitting in the first three games of the four-game series against the Dodgers has been estimable. Fifteen of their 19 runs, including two of the three they scored Wednesday night, came with two outs.


• The Cardinals may have been able to win Wednesday's game in the 12th inning when PH Joe Thurston doubled with one out—except that he missed first base and the Dodgers correctly appealed. Afterward, manager Tony La Russa said, "We're looking for Joe. He's missing in action. I think he dug a hole trying to bury himself, and we can't find him. Hopefully, he got the result of the game and crawled back out. A very embarrassing moment for him."


• The Cardinals started an all right-handed-hitting lineup for the first time all season—in their 104th game—against Los Angeles LHP Clayton Kershaw. Regular RF Ryan Ludwick played center field, with Nick Stavinoha in right. Kershaw had held left-handed batters to a .174 average with no homers and 38 strikeouts in 86 at-bats. Ludwick missed a diving catch while in center, turning a single into a triple. But shifted to right later in the game, he threw out Dodgers LF Manny Ramirez at the plate in the 12th inning.


• Manager Tony La Russa made it official. Struggling RHP Todd Wellemeyer will miss his next scheduled start Friday, and RHP Mitchell Boggs will be brought back from Class AAA Memphis to make that start. Boggs was 1-0 with a 3.22 ERA in five games (four starts) with the Cardinals earlier this season.


Boggs, who won't be added to the roster until the night when he will face the Astros, is 6-4 with a 4.29 ERA in 13 starts for Memphis.


Wellemeyer, 7-9 with a 5.79 ERA and 195 baserunners allowed in 110 1/3 innings, is going to the bullpen without argument.


"I think it makes sense," he said. "Something's got to change."




• RHP Joel Pineiro walked two hitters in eight innings Wednesday, the first time he had walked that many in his last eight starts. It was only the fourth time in 20 starts he had walked more than one hitter in a game.


• 2B Skip Schumaker had only one chance to extend his career-high hitting streak of 12 games. He struck out as a pinch hitter.


• LF Matt Holliday continues his hot hitting since coming from Oakland. Holliday, batting .500, has hit safely in all six games and has been on base at least twice in all six.

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