Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/15/09

The Cardinals bullpen and offense picked up the club after a bad start by Todd Wellemeyer as the Marlins fell 11-6 at Busch Stadium on Monday night.

Inside Pitch


With just more than three weeks before the start of the postseason, the Cardinals' starting pitching beyond Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Joel Pineiro is somewhat sketchy.


Kyle Lohse, who has had an assortment of injuries and also has had to deal with a family tragedy, has had renewed problems with his right forearm. Lohse, who had trouble finding a consistent release point on Saturday when he was cuffed around in his first start in three weeks, had an MRI Monday and some minor inflammation was found.


Lohse was slated to pitch this weekend against the Chicago Cubs but probably will be skipped, with both Carpenter and Wainwright likely to face Chicago along with John Smoltz, who reported improvement in his right shoulder.


Smoltz, who was skipped Monday because of recent tendinitis in the shoulder, said before the Cardinals beat Florida, "To beat a dead horse, I could have pitched today.


"(The shoulder) is progressing the way I thought two days ago I told you it would progress."


Meanwhile, Todd Wellemeyer, starting for the first time since July 26, gave up six runs and nine hits in four innings Monday, but manager Tony La Russa wasn't dismayed.


"I thought he made progress," said La Russa. "He was kind of on fumes there. I let him give up six. My fault."


While Wellemeyer was up and down, five relievers blanked the Marlins over the last five innings.


"Everybody who pitched got humongous outs," said La Russa. "You cannot give the bullpen enough credit."


CARDINALS 11, MARLINS 6: After being swept in a weekend series by Atlanta, the Cardinals lowered their magic number to 10. LF Matt Holliday knocked in three runs, two on a first-inning single and the other on an eighth-inning double. CF Colby Rasmus finished off a four-run eighth with a three-run homer.


Notes, Quotes


      RHP Blake Hawksworth, a rookie, gained his fourth straight victory by working 1 1/3 scoreless innings after Todd Wellemeyer was removed. Hawksworth gradually has gone from long relief to prominent relief. "He's done it the way you're supposed to do it," said manager Tony La Russa. "He was impressive in spring training. He went down to Class AAA and didn't pout. He was going to be an innings guy, which means ahead by a lot or behind by a lot. Then there was that kind of famous extra-inning game (a 15-inning win over Los Angeles), where he was the guy (Hawksworth worked three scoreless innings for his first big-league win). From then on, he's gotten more and more assignments when the game's on the line. That's the way you hoped a guy would respond to it."


      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 on two consecutive nights. "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 10 by four before Friday when Chicago comes to St. Louis for a three-game set. But there are only five 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


      CF Colby Rasmus has 15 homers after not hitting any in April. He got his seventh three-hit game Monday, raising his average to .260 after it had sunk into the .240s. "I think he's got tremendous upside," said manager Tony La Russa. "I think he handles the pressure really well. He's got a lot to learn and hopefully he's learning quickly."


      LF Matt Holliday has his third straight season of 100 or more runs batted in. He has 48 of those RBIs in 47 games as a Cardinal.


      2B Skip Schumaker had his second three-hit game in succession, boosting his average to .298. Proving the value of a good leadoff man, the Cardinals are 13-1 when he has three or more hits in a game.


      3B Troy Glaus is hurt again. Glaus, who was slow to respond after offseason shoulder surgery, suffered back spasms during a minor-league rehabilitation assignment. After starting three games recently for the Cardinals, he suffered an oblique injury while batting Saturday. He was unavailable for Monday's game, and it is not known how soon he will return.


Medical Watch:


3B Troy Glaus (oblique) was injured Sept. 12 and did not play Sept. 13-14.

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