Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/03/09

Albert Pujols' slump overshadowed the conclusion of a fine 5-2 homestand though the Cardinals fell to the Astros 2-0 on Sunday.

INSIDE PITCH

 

A good home stand could have been a great one for the Cardinals but they lost the final game of a four-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the last game of a three-game series with Houston when they had a chance to sweep both. Nonetheless, they were 5-2 on the stand although Sunday's loss cost them a chance to go 10 games over .500 for the first time since they were 17-7 on May 1.

 

It was no surprise that the Cardinals would be shut out on the first day that new left fielder Matt Holliday didn't get a hit. Holliday, while first baseman Albert Pujols was struggling, had gone 20-for-33 in his first nine Cardinals games, and largely had been carrying the club.

 

As for Pujols, the two-time Most Valuable Player has gone 59 at-bats without a homer, his longest dry spell in that department this season, and he's had only two extra-base hits in that span.

 

Speculation had been that Pujols' oft troublesome right elbow had been bothering him, but Pujols assured reporters after the game that the elbow was fine. He offered that he was just missing pitches that he should hit and, after debating a report that he was "struggling," then more or less agreed that he was.

 

"You guys think I'm perfect every time," said Pujols. "I had a great first half and I'm just struggling right now.

 

"I'm human just like everybody else."

 

Manager Tony La Russa said, "He's in a funk. He's certainly not right. But he's very talented, very determined and very smart. He'll fix it."

 

Pujols is 12-for-59 (.203) since July 17 when he hit two homers against Arizona in the Cardinals' first game after the All-Star break.

 

Houston 2, Cardinals 0:   RHP Adam Wainwright, bidding to become the National League's first 13-game winner, pitched a game worthy of that but infield hits in the fourth and seventh innings, the latter one off his glove, led to his undoing. The Cardinals had their best chance against rookie Bud Norris in the sixth when they had two runners on with one out. But 1B Albert Pujols popped up and LF Matt Holliday fanned on a high fastball out of the strike zone.

 

NOTES, QUOTES

 

• On Aug. 3, the Cardinals will have their first of nine days off in the final nine weeks in the season. Until Aug. 11, they will need just four starting pitchers.

 

• LF Matt Holliday was the first Cardinal in at least 55 years to reach base twice or more in each of his first nine games. But he was hitless in four at-bats on Sunday, failing to get the ball out of the infield.

 

• The Cardinals-Astros matchups this season mostly have been home-cooking. Of the first nine games, the visiting team won just one and that was by Houston on Sunday. The Cardinals lead the series five games to four.

 

By The Numbers:   39—Number of at-bats without an extra-base hit for 1B Albert Pujols before he doubled on July 29.

 

Quote To Note:   "He's a relentless hitter, is what he is."—Manager Tony La Russa, on hot-hitting LF Matt Holliday.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

• INF Khalil Greene, just activated after a lengthy minor league rehab assignment as he continued to deal with anxiety issues, flied out as a pinch hitter in his first home appearance since June 28.

 

• RHP Adam Wainwright took over the league lead in innings pitched at 158 1/3. His seven-inning effort Sunday marked the 21st consecutive time he had worked at least six innings.

 

• CF Colby Rasmus, who has been bothered by a bruised left heel and who has lost 20 pounds since spring training, is six for his last 59 but at least he walked twice on Sunday. He had had just three multiple-walk games before that.

 

Medical Watch: 

 

SS Brendan Ryan (bruised left ankle) left the July 30 game, and he did not play July 31-Aug. 2. He is day-to-day.

 

SS Khalil Greene (social anxiety disorder) went on the 15-day disabled list June 29. He began a minor league rehab assignment July 17, and he was activated Aug. 1.

 

3B Troy Glaus (right shoulder surgery in January 2009) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27. He began a minor league rehab assignment July 11. He was shut down in late July due to recurring back pain.

 

LHP Jaime Garcia (Tommy John elbow surgery in September 2008) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 27. He began a rehab assignment in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League on July 23.


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