On May 23, right-hander Kyle Lohse beat the Kansas City Royals for his fourth victory of the season and the Cardinals' fifth straight victory. Going into Monday's game, the Cardinals hadn't won as many as four games in a row since then, and Lohse hadn't won any.
But Monday, against a depleted
It had been eight starts since Lohse, 0-4 in that time, had won, but manager Tony La Russa said, "He's starting to find it. He's still not perfect, but definitely improving."
Suddenly, the Cardinals are
drawing away in the National League Central. They have expanded their lead over
the second-place Chicago Cubs to three games, the furthest
Hawksworth, appearing in more and more prominent spots, entered the game in the seventh with the Cardinals ahead 4-1 and got six groundball outs while allowing a harmless single.
"That's the first time he's come into a close game with the lead, and he didn't look any different," said La Russa. "He's got a lot of big-league cool, concentrates well, he's got good stuff. He's impressive. Before he got hurt (shoulder), he was one of our top prospects."
For the third straight game, Greene batted in a key run, doubling in the Cardinals' third run in the sixth inning.
"He deserves a lot of credit," La Russa said. "He took a minor league rehab (for social anxiety disorder) and hit .340 down there. That shows us not just that he's talented, but he's conscientious and he wants to get it right.
"He's contributed since he's come back. I'm sure he's happy about that. I'm sure that's what he wants to do. And that's what we want him to do, too."
Cardinals 4, Reds 1: When RHP Kyle Lohse didn't walk anyone in six innings, it meant the Cardinals' starting pitchers in the last four games had issued only one walk in 27 2/3 innings and the staff had issued two walks total in the four games. RHPs Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Joel Pineiro and Lohse all have posted victories in the Cardinals' run. Meanwhile, four different hitters drove in a run Monday—CF Colby Rasmus (bases-loaded walk), LF Matt Holliday (sacrifice fly), 3B Khalil Greene (double) and SS Brendan Ryan (double).
• The Cardinals won Monday for only the second time in RHP Kyle Lohse's last 10 starts. If Lohse can recapture his 15-win form of last year, the Cardinals will have four solid starters and then must fill in the fifth spot for probably eight more times the rest of the season.
• SS Brendan Ryan continued to excel defensively, giving the Cardinals some of their best defensive play at that position since Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith. "He's fun to watch," said manager Tony La Russa. "He makes a lot of awkward plays that he gets a glove on or barehands, but he makes the throw."
• 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 Sunday. 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.
By The Numbers: 48-24—The Cardinals' record at
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
• RHP Todd Wellemeyer will not make his scheduled start on Tuesday. Wellemeyer, who had been lifted from the rotation only to be announced as returning to it, felt his right elbow "flare up" while playing catch Sunday in Pittsburgh. RHP Mitchell Boggs, called up from Class AAA Memphis, has joined the team and likely will make the start.
Wellemeyer met with team doctor George Paletta on Monday and had an MRI taken of his right elbow. "Pretty much, this is the way the year has gone for me," said Wellemeyer, 7-9 with a 5.67 earned run average. "It really flared up big time."
The Cardinals are 5-0 Boggs' previous starts although he is only 1-0. "I'm here for whatever they need," Boggs said.
• 3B Mark DeRosa missed a second straight start because of upper back/neck discomfort. DeRosa entered the game in the seventh inning and made several outstanding plays, including two strong throws.
• CF Colby Rasmus still isn't hitting, but he drew his second bases-loaded walk in the last three games.