Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/14/09

Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals were swept at home via an ugly 9-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.

Inside Pitch


Chris Carpenter had his 11-game winning streak end on a day that the Cardinals' magic number remained at 11 for clinching the National League Central Division title.


Carpenter hadn't allowed a team to bat around against him in an inning for more than four years and the six runs he gave up in the third were the most he had allowed in one inning since 1998, when he spent his first full season in the majors with Toronto.

In a span of seven pitches in the third inning, Atlanta got six runs, featuring two-out, two-run hits by Adam LaRoche, Yunel Escobar and Matt Diaz.


The Braves' three-game sweep over the Cardinals marked the first time any team had done that since the Astros accomplished it in Houston on July 20-22. Colorado had swept four games from the Cardinals at Busch from June 5-8. The Cardinals lost a series for the first time in their last 14 series.


Asked if he had ever let an inning get away from him so quickly, Carpenter, now 16-4 with a 2.45 earned run average (second in the league behind San Francisco's Tim Lincecum), said, "I'm sure at some point I have. It has been a while.


"Of course, you're getting frustrated and you get mad but you've got to try to continue to execute."


Carpenter managed to go six innings for the 13th time in a row. "It was the one bad inning but he never quite looked right," said manager Tony La Russa. "He was out of sorts. His stuff was good. His location was not good.


"He had a rough day. And their guy (Javier Vazquez) had a great day. "It wasn't any fun (Sunday)," said La Russa, smiling faintly. "It's tough to sit down. Butt's sore, being kicked around like that."


ATLANTA 9, CARDINALS 2: The Cardinals mustered only three hits and no walks against Atlanta RHP Javier Vazquez through eight innings before bunching four singles for two runs in the ninth. 2B Skip Schumaker had three of the seven hits.


Notes, Quotes


      Manager Tony La Russa said he spoke to recently struggling RHP Ryan Franklin and reminded him that San Diego's Heath Bell, an All-Star like Franklin, had given up the lead two nights in a row. "It's a tough job," said La Russa. "You're going to have some times when you just don't get it done. You've just got to hang with it. He'll be fine. He's a very conscientious guy, which is good. As long as you don't drive yourself nuts."


      Class AAA Memphis, which swept its first-round, best-of-three Pacific Coast League series against Albuquerque, will meet Sacramento in a best-of-five series for the league championship starting Tuesday night in Memphis.


      The first two games of the series will be played in Memphis and the final three, if necessary, will be in Sacramento, beginning on Friday. Sacramento won the Class AAA championship last year, winning one game against the International League champion at Oklahoma City. The winner of the Memphis-Sacramento series will advance to a similar one-game showdown Sept. 22 in Oklahoma City.


      The Cardinals' lead in the National League Central Division dropped into single figures (9-1/2 games) for the first time this month. To clinch the division title at home, they would have to reduce their magic number of 11 by five before Friday when Chicago comes to St. Louis for a three-game set. But there are only seven total games involving the Cardinals and Cubs before those teams meet head-on this weekend.


      Manager Tony La Russa is stumping for young SS Brendan Ryan to be a Gold Glove candidate. "Whoever you consider as the best defensive shortstop in the National League… he's got to be in that discussion. Absolutely," said La Russa.


By The Numbers:


10—Number of multi-homer games for 1B Albert Pujols, tying Mark McGwire's single-season club record.


Quote To Note:


"I'm not a home run hitter."

—1B Albert Pujols, after hitting his major-league-leading 46th and 47th homers on Sept. 9.


Roster Report


      INF Joe Thurston, who has made just one start since Aug. 5, has had two pinch hits the last two days and is a good bet to be on a postseason roster as a lefthander off the bench. "He continues to have good at-bats," said manager Tony La Russa. "The last two or three weeks, his batting practice sessions have been outstanding. It shows you how strong-minded he is, because he's doing it without playing time. One of these days he'll get a game (to start)."


      3B Mark DeRosa said his two thefts Saturday represented the first multi-steal game of his career. Both, unusually, were of third base. "It's actually easier to steal third than it is to steal second," said DeRosa. "I saw (the catcher's) signs to see what they were throwing. You kind of know when to go. I think I'm a decent baserunner… but I don't instill fear in pitchers."


      C Jason LaRue will handle RHP Todd Wellemeyer Monday night against Florida in the latter's first return to the rotation since July 26. Manager Tony La Russa said, "It's not going to be an easy assignment for Wellemeyer. Jason did it the other day with (Mitchell) Boggs and got us a win. He'll come out there full of (spit) and vinegar."


      RHP Kyle Lohse, recovered from a strained left groin, made his first start since Aug. 21 on Saturday when he faced Atlanta.


Medical Watch:


LF Matt Holliday (bruised left knee) left the Sept. 9 game. He returned to the lineup on Sept. 11.


CF Colby Rasmus (sore left heel) did not play Sept. 7. He appeared as a pinch hitter Sept. 8, and he returned to the starting lineup Sept. 9.

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