Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/10/09

In a competitive series, the Cardinals swept the Pirates over the weekend, finishing a 4-1 road trip in style. Joel Pineiro picked up his tenth win on Sunday.



The Cardinals didn't find it easy in any game but they completed a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates, marking the first time they had swept any opponent since they won three in a row at Kansas City on June 19-21.


Their 7-3 victory sent them 11 games over .500 for the first time all season. The Cardinals lead the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central Division race by two games, their largest edge since July 21. And manager Tony La Russa is convinced somebody on the Pirates has it in for Pujols, calling Pujols' being hit "intentional."


After pinch hitter Skip Schumaker hit the first pinch homer of his career to put the Cardinals ahead in the eighth inning, Pujols, a career .381 hitter with 21 homers at PNC Park, was hit in the left rib-cage by a fastball from reliever Matt Capps, who was ejected.


Pujols said, "I don't think he did it on purpose, but it looked bad after that home run."


On the other hand, La Russa said, "I think (umpire Mike Estabrook) read it exactly right. I think it was an intentional hit. And there's no doubt in my mind it came from the bench. I really believe it didn't come from the manager. Don't ask me to expound on that. That's my comment. It was intentional. It came from the bench; it wasn't the manager who ordered it. The umpire handled it properly."


La Russa wouldn't say to whom he was referring. But veteran Pirates pitching coach Joe Kerrigan, who has been with several clubs, sometimes does call pitches for his young staff.


Capps said it wasn't intentional but Schumaker said, "We have our feelings about what happened and I'll just leave it at that."


The Cardinals and Pirates have one more series scheduled for Pittsburgh in early September.


Cardinals 7, Pittsburgh 3:   RHP Joel Pineiro got credit for his 10th win when the Cardinals rallied for five runs while they pinch hit for him in the eighth inning. Pineiro pitched scoreless ball from the fourth through the seventh and made two outstanding fielding plays in the seventh to keep the game close. In the eighth, a two-run homer by PH Skip Schumaker preceded a two-run double by RF Ryan Ludwick and a run-scoring single by 3B Khalil Greene.




• RHP Joel Pineiro allowed his first homer since June 28 and only his fourth in 148 1/3 innings when Pirates 1B Steve Pearce connected off him in the second inning. Pineiro didn't walk anybody for the 12th time and, for the three-game series, Cardinals RHPs Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Pineiro, the three starters, threw 235 strikes and only 87 called balls.


• RHP Todd Wellemeyer, who has struggled with a 7-9 mark and 5.67 earned run average, will return to the Cardinals' rotation to pitch Tuesday against Cincinnati. The decision by manager Tony La Russa has drawn considerable outrage.


But La Russa said Sunday, "One of the worst things you can do is try to go on the defensive. The decisions you make are opinions about what you think is the best chance to win. If somebody has a difference of opinion, that's one of the great things about baseball."


To Wellemeyer possibly staying in the rotation after Tuesday, La Russa said, "He needs to prove that he's the best of the candidates for that spot. If there's somebody, in our opinion, who's better than he is, then (that person) will pitch. Anybody's welcome to have their opinion. There's other guys out there."


By The Numbers:   48-24—The Cardinals' record at Pittsburgh's PNC Park since it opened.


Quote to Note:   "He's a complete player and person."—Manager Tony La Russa on MVP candidate Albert Pujols, who also tended to a fan who fell over the rail chasing a foul ball at PNC Park on Friday night.




• 3B Mark DeRosa, though he contributed a pinch-hit to ignite a five-run inning in the eighth, had to be scratched from the lineup an hour or so before game time because his upper back stiffened and he couldn't throw without discomfort. DeRosa said the problem stemmed from a herniated disk problem he has had near his neck for a couple of years. "I woke up (Sunday) morning and it was really locked up," DeRosa said. Also battling a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, DeRosa said he would be all right to play Monday. "Usually, it's a (one) day thing," he said. "When it starts affecting your throws, you get a little pain running down your right arm."


• 2B Skip Schumaker's pinch home run was the first of his career at any level. He has a total of 40 home runs, counting the 25 he hit in the minors.


• INF Khalil Greene, slowly making his way back after a couple of bouts with a social anxiety disorder, contributed a run-scoring hit for the second straight game on Sunday. Greene started at 3B for Mark DeRosa on Sunday and was hitless before singling home a run in a five-run eighth.


Medical Watch: 


3B Mark DeRosa (sore back) was unable to start on Aug. 9 but pinch hit later in the game.


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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