Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/08/09

Matt Holliday led the visiting Cardinals to a comeback win over the Pirates Friday night with his bat and his legs.



New outfielder Matt Holliday admits, "I'd rather hit a homer." And this he did in the first inning Friday when he delivered a two-run shot, his fourth as a Cardinal since coming from Oakland two weeks ago.


But the Cardinals' 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates was as much because of Holliday's legs as the Cardinals vaulted back into first place in the National League Central Division.


With the game tied at 4-4, Holliday beat out an infield hit with one out in the eighth when third baseman Andy LaRoche couldn't release the ball quickly enough after fielding a slow roller.


Holliday stole second as Ryan Doumit's high throw glanced off the glove of Delwyn Young. Holliday, with Young draped over his back, looked back to see that the ball had gone into center field, finally was able to shed Young and, after hesitating, headed safely to third. Holliday then scored the go-ahead run with a hand-first slide as Ryan Ludwick, who had been down in the count at 0-2 to Jose Ascanio, flied to short right.


Manager Tony La Russa said, "There's not many guys who have (Holliday's) production as a hitter who give you that other dimension."


Cardinals 6, Pittsburgh 4:   RHP Chris Carpenter allowed back-to-back homers to Pittsburgh RF Garrett Jones and C Ryan Doumit in the first inning—the first time he had allowed consecutive homers in nearly four years. But he blanked the Pirates on two hits over his last five innings as he won his sixth straight overall to raise his mark to 11-3. He is 11-1 lifetime against the Pirates.




• Manager Tony La Russa said Major League Baseball's three-game suspension of right-hander Brad Thompson was unfair. "What happened doesn't justify three days," said La Russa, referring to Thompson's up-and-in, head-high pitch to the New York Mets' David Wright on Wednesday.


"The pitch got away… I'm not happy because the pitch got away. We always tell (the pitchers), ‘If you throw the ball inside, miss down, not up.'


"But the fact that was—and I tried to explain to (home-plate umpire) Bill Miller—that Albert (Pujols) and (Ryan) Ludwick had gotten hit and I thought (the Mets) were just trying to work the ball inside. And Albert was coming off six hits. Wright was killing us out over the plate so we said, ‘Let's get the ball in on him. (Thompson) wasn't thrown out of the game. I think (Thompson) was very harshly treated, very unfairly."


• Manager Tony La Russa calls 1B Albert Pujols, headed for a third Most Valuable Player Award, "a complete player and person."


Pujols offered yet another example of this when he tended to a man who fell headfirst onto the field trying to field a foul ground ball for his son, who was in attendance and has Down Syndrome, during a seventh-inning incident Friday night at PNC Park. "I told him to stay down. Hopefully, his neck is OK but you never know (because of) the way he fell," said Pujols. Pujols, when he saw the father wasn't in danger—he was alert and responsive although cut badly and perhaps with a broken nose—conveyed that to the son as his father was strapped to a stretcher for precautionary reasons before going to the hospital. Pujols said the unidentified man from New York had said his son was a big fan of Pujols. "But this is not the way I wanted to meet you," the man said to Pujols.


• RHP Kyle Lohse is expected to rejoin the team in Pittsburgh on Saturday to throw a bullpen session, preparatory to his next scheduled start Monday at home against Cincinnati. Lohse, who hasn't won since May 23, was lit up by the Mets on Wednesday, a day after learning of the death of his cousin in a California jet ski accident. Lohse returned to California for the memorial service.


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


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




• 3B Mark DeRosa, who had been nothing for 14, exploded with three hits, including his eighth homer as a Cardinal. He also had two singles, giving him nine hits other than his home runs in his first 85 Cardinals at-bats.


• IF Khalil Greene, limited to off-the-bench duty since coming back after being disabled for a second time with social anxiety disorder, tied the game with a two-out pinch-hit double in the seventh. "It's good to see him have some success," said RHP Chris Carpenter. "The guy can play. You want him to do well and it's good to see him do well."


• SS Brendan Ryan, sidelined since July 30 after fouling a ball off his left ankle, returned to the lineup Friday after La Russa had left the eighth spot vacant in his lineup until he saw Ryan run in pre-game warmups. Ryan went nothing for four but made all the plays in the field and ran well. There still is some swelling in the ankle but Ryan said, "You can start to see the ankle a little bit. It was like two ankles."


• 3B David Freese, who was on the opening-day roster before being sent out and then having more trouble with an ankle injury suffered in a winter car accident, has begun hitting for power at Class AAA Memphis. He might rate a September recall.


Medical Watch: 


SS Brendan Ryan (bruised left ankle) left the July 30 game, and he did not play July 31-Aug. 5. He returned to the lineup on Aug. 7.


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 because of recurring back pain, and he won't resume action before Sept. 1.


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 minor leagues on July 23.

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