Cardinals Major League Notebook: 09/23/09

Astros pitching is what the Cardinals offense needed to get back on track as they rapped out 15 hits in an 11-2 win Tuesday night in Houston.

INSIDE PITCH

 

   Just in time for the postseason, the Cardinals offense is taking shape in a big way. After being held to three runs or fewer in seven of their previous nine games, the Cardinals have scored 18 runs and collected 30 hits the last two nights in Houston.

 

   "We've got guys on the bench, Ryan Ludwick, Brendan Ryan (on Tuesday), who've got a good argument to play," manager Tony La Russa said. "That tells you we're good and we're deep."

 

   Colby Rasmus, who has been riding a roller coaster and batting under .150 against left-handed pitching, had two hits against left-handers Tuesday, including his 16th homer of the season. He also scored three runs.

 

   Meanwhile, Joel Pineiro, who is likely to be the third starter in postseason play, gained his 15th win of the season and first in three weeks.

 

   Pineiro needed just 87 pitches to pitch seven innings. He limited the Astros to one run on five hits.

 

   CARDINALS 11, ASTROS 2: The Cardinals pounded out 15 hits for the second consecutive night. Besides Colby Rasmus' three hits, Yadier Molina had a double and two-run homer. Mark DeRosa had two singles, giving him five hits in his last two games.

 

NOTES, QUOTES

 

   --The Cardinals, who had 90 days to do so, voided the $3.1 contract they gave to 16-year-old Dominican OF Wagner Mateo when a post-signing physical revealed a "pre-existing condition" and an injury. GM John Mozeliak wouldn't reveal the specifics, but there had been reports that Mateo had a vision problem and an injury that resulted from it. "I think disappointment is a very fair word," Mozeliak said of the breakdown in the deal.

 

   --With the magic number at two for the Cardinals to clinch the National League Central, Wednesday will be the first night they will have a chance. Second-place Chicago will be at Milwaukee at the same time the Cardinals are playing Houston.

 

   --3B Troy Glaus was left home at the start of a nine-game trip as he continued to deal with a strained oblique muscle. With additional reserves set to join the team in Colorado, general manager John Mozeliak said it was beneficial for Glaus to get personal treatment in St. Louis. Glaus' status for a possible postseason roster spot will be revisited again before the season is over, but it seems unlikely he will be healthy enough to help much in the opening round.

 

   BY THE NUMBERS: 4-0 -- Records for both LHP Trever Miller and RHP Blake Hawksworth. Their ERAs through Sept. 18 were 1.77 and 2.36, respectively.

 

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's better to do it right now than at the end of this month, when we're going into something that hopefully we're going into." -- RHP Ryan Franklin, on the Cardinals' week-long swoon a couple of weeks before the playoffs would begin.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

   --RHP Kyle Lohse, who worked six impressive innings in a win Monday at Houston, has been tabbed to pitch Sunday in Colorado, with RHP Joel Pineiro, who won Tuesday, to be off until next Tuesday at Cincinnati. Pineiro then would be in line to start the last game of the regular season Oct. 4 in preparation for his Game 3 start in the playoffs.

 

   --1B Albert Pujols' 129th RBI of the season was the 1,106th of his career, moving him one past 1B Jim Bottomley into third place on the all-time Cardinals list behind OF Stan Musial (1,951) and OF Enos Slaughter (1,148). He passed Bottomley with a third-inning single that scored Skip Schumaker.

 

   --C Yadier Molina, who cracked his first home run in more than three months Tuesday, said the time was now for the Cardinals. "We need to finish strong and take it into the postseason," he said.


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