Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/04/09

The Cardinals and John Smoltz finished a 7-2 homestand with a 4-3 loss to Milwaukee on Thursday.

Inside Pitch


The Cardinals lost the series finale to the Brewers but almost incredibly did not lose ground to the pursuing Cubs for a 28th consecutive day. The Cards' magic number for clinching their sixth division title since 2000 is 19.


John Smoltz was pitching his third straight strong game until the Brewers got to him in the sixth. With the Cardinals leading 2-1, the Brewers put runners on first and third with nobody out. Smoltz struck out Ryan Braun and then got Prince Fielder to hit a roller -- a possible double-play ball -- to second baseman Julio Lugo. But Lugo bobbled the ball and was able to get only one out as the tying run scored from third.


Casey McGehee, who drove in nine runs in the three-game series, then belted a two-run homer to put the Brewers ahead to stay.


"I knew I had to be quick for us to turn (the double play)," Lugo said, "which is probably why I mishandled it a bit."


Still, the Cardinals finished their homestand 7-2. They've won 20 of their last 26 games at home, and they are 10 1/2 games clear of the Cubs.


BREWERS 4, CARDINALS 3: Matt Holliday hit his 10th homer as a Cardinal and 21st of the season, and his three hits gave him 1,001 for his career. He has driven in 37 runs in his first 37 games for the Cardinals, and St. Louis has won 27 of those games.


Notes, Quotes


      The Cardinals will take their second-to-last trip of the season when they visit Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. They have 15 road games remaining and 12 at home.


      RHP Chris Carpenter, who has a 10-game winning streak, was honored for winning half of those in August when he was named the National League Pitcher of the Month. Carpenter (15-3) hasn't lost since June 30.


      2B Skip Schumaker had his first four-hit game of the season Wednesday, raising his average to .301 with a .360 on-base percentage. Last year, he finished at .302 with a .359 on-base percentage, but this year he is playing a position that was foreign to him until the spring. Manager Tony La Russa, referring to Schumaker as one of the club's most valuable players, said, "It speaks volumes for his toughness. Learning a new position and he's still been able to separate the offense and the defense. … He's had a heckuva year—so far."


By The Numbers:


10—Consecutive non-losing (9-0-1) series for the Cardinals through Aug. 30.


Quote To Note:


"When you only get one at-bat, it's a tough assignment."

—INF Khalil Greene, after tying a game the Cardinals later won with his first pinch-hit homer. Greene, disabled twice with anxiety issues, has lost his SS job to Brendan Ryan but has contributed off the bench.


Roster Report


      RHP Todd Wellemeyer, out for a month due to elbow inflammation, was activated from the 15-day disabled list. Wellemeyer made two starts for Class AAA Memphis on a rehab assignment, throwing some 30 pitches in each. In the second, he fanned three of the six hitters he faced. "I figured out some stuff (Wednesday)," Wellemeyer said. After losing his spot in the rotation, he will be in the Cardinals bullpen for the foreseeable future.


      RHP Kyle Lohse, who has been out with a strained left hamstring, will be activated from the disabled list Sunday. He will come back in the bullpen, but that probably is temporary. Lohse is expected to rejoin the rotation in the next 10 days or so.


      2B Julio Lugo hit the 10th leadoff homer of his big-league career Thursday. It was the first by a Cardinals player since OF Skip Schumaker had one last year at Detroit.


Medical Watch:


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 was activated Sept. 3.


LHP Kyle Lohse (strained groin) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 22. He threw a bullpen session Aug. 27, and he is expected to be activated Sept. 6.

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