Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/27/09

Joel Pineiro led the Cardinals to a win over Roy Oswalt and the Houston Astros at Busch Stadium on Wednesday night as the club's magic number is down to 28.



It isn't too early for magic numbers, and the Cardinals' is 28 for clinching the National League Central title. But, a number manager Tony La Russa prefers to consider is 20.


For the first time since the end of the 2005 season, the Cardinals went 20 games over .500 Wednesday by beating Houston. "It is one of the magical numbers," La Russa said, referring to 20, "if you want to have a chance to play in October.


"We've played ourselves into the race. Now we need to work every series to get to the finish line."


The victory was the Cardinals' 15th in their last 18 games, and they're 17-5 in August. The win also was the seventh in a row for Joel Pineiro, who went eight innings to score his 13th victory. The Cardinals haven't lost in his last 10 starts, and the team is 28-3 since July 1 when Pineiro, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are starting.


"I try to feed on (Wainwright and Carpenter)," Pineiro said. "I want to go out there and do the same thing."


Pineiro recorded 14 of his 24 outs on groundballs, and he was responsible for seven of them himself, fielding five grounders and starting a couple of double plays.


Using his sinker more than ever, Pineiro said, "I tell myself, ‘Why did I wait eight years to learn a sinker like that?'"


Cardinals 3, Astros 2:   RHP Ryan Franklin posted his third save in three games and 34th in 36 opportunities this season. The Cardinals scored all of their runs in the first inning for the second game in a row. (They had only one Tuesday). RHP Joel Pineiro had his 13th walkless start out of 25. The Cardinals haven't lost a series in their last nine (8-0-1).




• Pitching coach Dave Duncan returned to the team after missing Tuesday's game for personal reasons. Duncan has been known to be unhappy about the Cardinals trading his son, OF Chris Duncan, to Boston in July. Last week Boston released Chris Duncan from its Class AAA Pawtucket affiliate. He hit .188 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 27 games with Pawtucket.


• Wednesday marked the 16th walkless game by the Cardinals this season, which is a major league high. RHP Joel Pineiro, the winning pitcher, finished August walking only three men. He passed two in May, four in June and three in July after walking six in April.


• A win Thursday in the series finale with Houston would clinch the season series for the Cardinals. They are 7-4 with four games remaining, three of them in Houston.


• RHP Todd Wellemeyer, who has been out three weeks with an inflamed right elbow, threw a bullpen session without incident Tuesday but will have to do the same at least once more before he is cleared to pitch, manager Tony La Russa said. Wellemeyer has said he would take a minor league rehab start, and La Russa said he thought that would be a good idea.


• The 1-0 victory Tuesday was the Cardinals' first since July 25, 2006, at Colorado and their first at home since May 17, 2006, against the New York Mets.


By The Numbers:   4—Times 1B Albert Pujols has struck out three times in succession in a game in his nine-season career.


Quote To Note:   "He's a complete pitcher with a great head on his shoulders."—San Diego manager Bud Black, on Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter.




• 3B Mark DeRosa, who already was a .440 career hitter against Houston RHP Roy Oswalt, doubled home two runs in a three-run first inning and later singled before Oswalt hit him in the left arm with a pitch. DeRosa stayed in the game.


• SS Brendan Ryan, again excelling in the field, also extended his hitting streak to eight games with a sixth-inning infield hit.


• CF Colby Rasmus had two singles and hit another ball hard while hitting second in the order, while SS Brendan Ryan dropped to eighth.


Medical Watch: 


LHP Kyle Lohse (strained groin) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 22.


RHP Todd Wellemeyer (right elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 5. He threw a bullpen session Aug. 25, and he might make a minor league rehab appearance before rejoining the Cardinals.


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. He started a new rehab assignment with Class AAA Memphis on Aug. 15.

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