Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/29/09

Smoltz, Greene and Pujols teamed up to lead the Cardinals over the Nationals in walk-off fashion Friday night at Busch Stadium.



The Busch Stadium fans offered up several standing ovations Friday night. Two came for new starting pitcher John Smoltz, the 42-year-old right-hander who delivered his second straight strong start, holding Washington to one run and four hits in six innings while fanning six.


A curtain call went out to often troubled shortstop Khalil Greene, who hit the first pinch homer of his career to tie the game in the eighth inning.


The final standing ovation went to first baseman Albert Pujols, who has had a few. Pujols' game-ending home run to open the bottom of the ninth was his major league-leading 41st homer of the season and eighth walk-off home run of his career.


"There were a lot of heroes in this game," said Pujols. "With John pitching and myself, but the big hero at the end of the night was Khalil. He deserves all the credit."


Manager Tony La Russa has used Greene sparingly as he tries not to put too much pressure on the shortstop, who has suffered through some anxiety issues. Greene mostly has pinch hit, and he is 4-for-18 at the job.


"As far as baseball is concerned," said Greene, "coming off the bench and being productive is about as hard as it gets."


Cardinals 3, Nationals 2:   Although the Cardinals scored three or fewer runs for the eighth time in the last 11 games, they have won eight of those games. Washington LHP John Lannan handcuffed St. Louis for seven innings but surrendered a game-tying homer to pinch-hitter Khalil Greene in the eighth. And then 1B Albert Pujols, who had been 0-for-3, homered to lead off the ninth against RHP Jason Bergmann.




• The Cardinals have not had a two-game losing streak since July 25-26 and haven't dropped any ground to the Chicago Cubs in the standings since July 30.


• RHP Chris Carpenter, who normally exhibits pinpoint control, walked C Chris Coste and RHP Brian Moehler with two outs in the second inning Thursday, leading to the second of the Astros' two runs in that inning. A Cardinal since 2004, Carpenter never had walked the No. 8 hitter and the pitcher in succession in an inning. Carpenter's winning streak remained at nine.


• RHP Kyle McClellan missed a chance for his third save of the season Thursday. RHP Ryan Franklin, worked hard lately, was being given a rest, although McClellan said he wasn't aware of that. "I don't think it would have made a difference," said McClellan, who actually blew the save in the eighth, when Franklin probably wouldn't have been in the game.


• 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.


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.




• When RHP John Smoltz signed with the Cardinals about 10 days ago after being released from Boston, it was thought he would start a couple of times and then make his way to the bullpen, where there seems a need for a veteran right-handed reliever. Off what the 42-year-old has done in his first two starts, this move isn't likely to happen anytime soon. "Not yet," said smiling manager Tony La Russa after Smoltz's start Friday. "I was really impressed Sunday (five scoreless innings) and I was really impressed today. He doesn't have to improve much more than that." Smoltz allowed one run in six innings, striking out six, against Washington.


• RHP Jason Motte gradually is earning more trust. Pitching scoreless ball for the fourth time in his last five appearances, the reliever gained his fourth victory of the season as he stranded a runner at second in the ninth inning.


• 1B Albert Pujols' game-winning homer was the 100th run he had scored this season. Pujols has scored 100 runs eight times in his career, and he had 99 the other time.


• 2B Julio Lugo was playing in medium right field when he retired Washington 1B Adam Dunn on a hard grounder in the first inning. He was playing only a bit closer in the eighth, when he threw out Dunn again from the grass.


Medical Watch: 


LHP Kyle Lohse (strained groin) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 22. He threw a bullpen session Aug. 27.


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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